Insecurity is a major problem that affects the everyday lives of people resident in Edo State. Crimes such as kidnapping for ransom, internet fraud, human trafficking, and armed robbery are commonplace in cities and communities across the State. Organised political violence such as inter-communal land boundary conflicts, land grabbing, herders’ attacks, electoral violence and thuggery also shape the landscape of insecurity in the State. This poses a critical challenge for peaceful living and calls for urgent policy response by stakeholders and government in the State.
Issues and Dynamics of Insecurity in Edo State
There are various types of security threats and violent conflicts in Edo State. The key and routined ones are inter-communal land boundary conflicts, land grabbing phenomenon, herders’ attacks, political violence, kidnapping for ransom, internet fraud, human trafficking, chieftaincy tussle, and armed robbery.
Insecurities and violent conflicts are linked and mutually reinforcing. They are shaped and influenced by the socio-economic and political context of the State. Also, they produce untoward outcomes that have undermined peace and security across the state with overwhelming negative consequences for lives, livelihoods and investment.
Different actors are involved in activities that perpetuate insecurity in Edo State. These actors include cultists, kidnappers, armed robbers, cyber fraudsters, human traffickers, and herders.
However, both formal and informal political actors such as politicians, religious leaders and traditional rulers who are supposed to reinforce security and mitigate violence have colluded with non-state violent actors to undermine peace.
Several efforts have been made by concerned individuals, groups and government to intervene and resolve these raging security threats and violent conflicts. Some of the efforts include formation of vigilante groups, putting curses on criminals by traditional rulers and women, police and judicial intervention, invitation of military to mount surveillance around flashpoints, protests and peaceful marches or procession to draw attention of relevant authorities, setting up of taskforces, sensitization programmes and construction of anticrime rhetoric. Despite these efforts, violent insecurity has continued to surge, due to the state-centric nature of the responses which trump human security calculations.
Crime rate is on an upward trend.
There is an increasing link between crime in Edo State and criminal groups in neighbouring states.
Large scale farming of marijuana/cannabis in rural communities is fueling the rise of criminal groups in the governance of rural communities where illicit drugs are cultivated.
Edo State government should go beyond mere impressionistic programmes and psychological re-assurances – telling the people after attacks that the criminals will be arrested and prosecuted. This is very convenient but superficial. There is need for strategic thinking on bolder steps to deter the outbreak of insecurity. The following steps are important:
There is the need for government to empower the vigilante groups through training, remuneration and provision of operational equipment to facilitate their activities.
The current disconnect between the communities and the law enforcement agencies should be addressed. A bottom-up and citizens-driven approach can be adopted for the people to claim ownership of security management.
Government should revamp the ailing factories such as the Bendel Brewery, Edo Textile Mill and several others across the state in order to create job opportunities for teeming unemployed youth.
The Edo State government needs to provide functional infrastructures, such as regular electric power supply that are supportive of the growth and development of small scale business and artisanship.
There is an urgent need for value reorientation in Edo State. Ostentatious lifestyle and get-rich-quick syndrome should be discouraged through de-construction and re-construction of the current value systems.
Enactment and Enforcement of Anti-Open Grazing Legislation
The Edo State House of Assembly should enact a law against open grazing of cattle to reduce clash between herders and communities in the State.
Speedy Delivery of Justice
There is an urgent need for Edo State Government to ensure efficient justice delivery in the State. This will address the number of pending criminal cases before the courts in Edo State.
Control of Drug Abuse
Stakeholders should promote enlightenment campaigns on the dangers of drug abuse and addiction.
Disarmament of Criminal Gangs
There should be intense effort to reduce the circulation of small arms and light weapons (SALWs) in Edo State through disarmament of criminal gangs and the regulation of artisanal production of firearms by local blacksmiths.
The intelligence gather capacity of security agencies should be boosted through retraining, inter-agency cooperation and use of state-of-the-art technological gadgets to stem the tides of insecurity.