Ya Allah, my du’a is for the violence, taking place in my country to stop! Everyday one listens to the news and the ‘constant’ are tales of murders, massacres, kidnappings, rapes, oppression and so many other atrocities. It seems like every minute, every second, Nigerians are being tortured and armed banditry, theft and abject poverty is on the increase.No longer can one drive on the free way without the fear of being snatched. At this rate, one cannot be prepared for the level of the intense misery that innocent Nigerians continue to suffer. The murders, kidnappings, mass rapes and massacres across the country, especially the North has gone on for far too long. Hundreds of innocent Nigerians have been slaughtered and the systematic sexual attacks on women have been widely reported. People are consistently in danger of being kidnapped. Tens of thousands have been displaced and even more are living in conditions of the barest subsistence in refugee camps.

The circumstances that the refugees have been forced to in the refugee camps are bleak, made worse by the ordeals that still haunt the children, many of whom were witnesses or the victims of the most extreme violence.

Not to respond to the plight of the hungry children, the widowed mothers, the incapacitated men, the homeless refugees, the victims of violence is inhuman. Not to ease their solitude by presenting them with a ray of hope that the violence will stop or that they would be able to go to their homes, is to banish them from human memory. And in forgoing their humanity, we betray our very own.

We must remember that those that have been directly affected by the widespread violence are real people with children, with lives and responsibilities. It’s troubling to know that the news of violence in our country is becoming commonplace. People are getting used to hearing about violence on a daily bases, so much so that they are becoming jaded to it.

There is a danger that even the most moral amongst us can grow numb to the incessant accounts of carnage presently happening in Nigeria. The propensity of us creating a dense psychic fence across the worst that the world has to offer is bound to happen because we don’t want to face the stark reality of the massacres taking place in our communities. But it is a tendency that we must fight. Hiding, ignoring, or denying what is happening to our fellow countrymen, our fellow human makes a cruel culture.

We must remind ourselves of the dangers that are intrinsic in the emotion of indifference to the suffering of others. Stories of atrocities on the scale of those coming out of Nigeria cannot be told too often. We must face the reality of what is happening in our own backyard. It is so much easier to turn a blind eye to the victims, to pretend that the violence is not happening. It is so much easier to avoid such rude interruptions to our work, our dreams, our hopes and our daily lives. More than those perpetrating the crimes, it is the indifference to the suffering of others that makes the human being inhuman. If we continue to minimize the violence-taking place in Nigeria, it would mean that somewhere we have lost ourselves as humans. And, that, we cannot afford to do.

The response to the crisis at both the federal and state levels has not been satisfactory. Not enough has been done to address this ever-growing insecurity. Federal security and law enforcement agencies have not established effective rapid response means; they have only arrested few perpetrators of violence and have not presented enough compensation to victims of that violence. This enormous human catastrophe must come to an end. The administration, together with affected state governments need to work together, taking immediate steps to shore up security for members of every community.

To competently tackle the increasing violence in Nigeria, government has to bring a number of recommendations to life. We must embrace policy suggestions for reducing violence and containing crime in Nigeria. The goal is to put Nigeria’s violence reduction efforts back on track, especially now that the rate of violence has once again risen.

To start off, there has to be a complete overhaul in the security service. Officials need to be relieved of their duties for new personnel that will look at the crisis through fresh eyes and use different, more effective strategies. Whatever the present security services are doing now is clearly not working.

Government and security forces have to focus on those mostat risk for violence by functioning in a manner that displays its understanding that crime prevention is most effective when it is acutely targeted. The intervention that are normally most effective in reducing violence are those that directly target the small networks of individuals already engaging in or most likely to engage in violent behaviors. With intelligence, the government would be in a better position to prevent violence before it occurs. 

Our security needs to operate as a local police force, which would identify criminal problems and creating ad hoc intelligence for solving them. This will provide the kind of community policingthat establishes affiliations with residents to reduce crime. Such a strategy would create trust between the forces and the communities that they operate in, be effective in intensifying police acceptability and citizen gratification. With this policy, the security forces can concentrate on hot spots of violence and the particular gangs and individuals that are terrorizing citizens. This is even more vital because most of the victims of violence and kidnappings report back that the criminals and kidnappers have established towns inside the bushes where they keep their captives. Our forces need to infiltrate these locations. This should be carried out by the security forces whom can engage with the masses in the areas most affected by the violence. This will provide the government with the intelligence needed to tackle this crisis.

It may not always be easy to identify or engage with criminal gangs and individuals, but officials must appreciate the fact that, in order to reap results, violence reduction means must be targeted specifically. ‘Focused deterrence’ is a strategy that adopts sanctions and rewards to stop individual offenders and groups from engaging in violence. Any intervention that identifies violence elements and focuses on preventing particular criminal individuals or behaviors can be very effective.

Our security forces must develop these local intelligence capabilities, to be able to identify people and behaviors committing violence and develop local allies in the areas prone to violence. It is people inside the communities that best know where and when violent events occur and who partakes in them. A system that generates insider agents would be advisable in order to target crime and violence, more than any form of a central top-down strategy.

We must also sink inenough funding to crime prevention programs.  If our authorities are serious about crime prevention, the security budget may need to be increased or, at least, remain consistent over time. To make sure the funds are being utilized properly, there needs to be transparency by communicating to the Nigerian public how the funds are being used. Funds must be allocated to create impact evaluations, and most importantly, to make their findings public and replicable. Nigerians will not complain about the amount of funds that are invested in keeping our citizens safe as long as the funds are utilized in a proper and transparent manner.

The state governments that have been affected more with the violence should liaise with federal authorities more in order to lessen risks of violence. There is a failure on behalf of government to outline a well-defined and comprehensible method to recognizing the scope of violence and resolving its spate. Increasingly, this is putting Nigerian citizens at risk.

The government should also cooperate with the traditional rulers in the affected areas because these leaders still have a firm base and significant control of the people in their communities.

Furthermore, we need to coordinate more with our neighbors to stem cross-border movement of armed bandits. Nigeria must work closer with Cameroon, Chad and Niger in order to monitor movements across borders, especially of gangs that have been identified as aggravating internal tension and insecurity in Nigeria.

For the long term, we may also need to implement crime prevention programs in our educational system and workshops that will work towards helping at-risk populations to control their emotions, impulses and reactions to strife, need and anger.

In order to reduce the increasing violence in Nigeria, these recommendations and more must be adopted and distributed by the most effective interventions. 

While some of the suggested policies will not produce instant results, the Nigerian authorities have got to take corrective actions and do it overtly with a greater sense of urgency. Failure to respond, resolutely and efficiently, allows us to continue descending into increasingly deadly violence.

As I perform my duty of Ramadan, I raise up my hand and pray to The Almighty Allah for all the victims of violence. “…Ya Allah, my du’a is for the violence, taking place in my country to stop!”

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