by Samuel Ogundipe
Despite a sweeping law that has led to the disappearance of commercial motorcycle operators from major streets of Lagos following over claims that they’re responsible for most criminal activities, the State of Lagos still ranks high as one of the states with the highest crime rates in the country, according to a new survey released by the Cleen Foundation, a non-partisan public policy think tank.
The survey, which is the most comprehensive yet since Governor Babatunde Fashola banned commercial motorcycles on major roads in Lagos in 2012, finds that Lagos is still a hotbed for the criminal elements of the society.
Key findings in the report show that about 67% of Lagos residents have fear of becoming victims of crimes while 23% claim to have experienced crime in the last one year.
Similarly, the general public believe that crime rate in Lagos actually increased from 12% to 21% between 2011 and 2012. Robbery (at 28%) and theft of property (at 17%) are more prevalent crimes in the state.
The findings further reveal that about 47% think violent crimes in the state are more likely to be committed by people born and living in Lagos while 33% think such is committed by people born outside but living in the state.
The survey also shows that, unlike its counterparts in the Southwest that have seen reduction in assault-related crimes, assault cases in Lagos State skyrocketed 27% to 38% in 2012 from 11% in 2011.
The survey, however, shows that crimes like kidnapping and gun violence have subsided:
‘‘Kidnapping and attempted kidnapping dropped from 3.3% in 2011 to 0.2% in 2012. In 2012, 3.3% residents in rural areas experienced threat at gunpoint while 2.3% persons living in urban areas had such experience while, from 2011 to 2012, the rate of attempted murder declined 2.2% in Lagos state,’’ the survey revealed.
And of the 1% of total Lagos residents who possess firearms, a substantial majority of them (74.2%) gave personal protection as their rational.
The foundation concluded its report by giving one recommendation each to both policy makers and residents:
‘‘To effectively fight the recent scourge of kidnapping in Lagos state and to avoid further escalations, government and security agencies must act as a matter of urgency by putting adequate structures in place.
‘‘To reduce the increasing fear of becoming a victim of crime in Lagos State, there is also a need to strengthen community partnerships with the police to facilitate cooperation and communication between local Police and the community.’’
The survey sampled a total number of 11,518 Nigerians across all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory with 50% female and 50% male, all of who are above 18 years of age. The report did not state the margin of error.
While reacting to the report, Lagos State chairman of Motorcycle Transport Union of Nigeria, Paul Ugo, told The Scoop that the report merely corroborates the belief he and his association have held all along and what they told the state government before it began effecting the ban on commercial motorcycling.
‘‘The law was too severe. They didn’t put it in place to reduce crimes. Governor Fashola knew the law will not reduce crimes. He did it because he won’t need our votes again. But we’ll continue to fight it out in court even though we lost at the first hearing.’’
Similarly, Mr. Aminu Akande, a Lagosian from Ogba axis whose car was recently stolen outside his home, said the state is still very insecure and warned residents to be very vigilant and not have a false sense of security.
‘‘The security situation is still very bad in Lagos because my car was parked outside my house where I always park it before I go to bed. I woke up next day only to discover that my car is gone. I have made several trips to many police stations across the city but no luck yet and I’ve even given up already,’’ he lamented.
‘‘My advise to people now, after all I have been through, is to monitor their properties very well and stop thinking there’s security because there’s nothing like that,’’ he said.
But another Lagos resident, Olayinka Marquis, who also spoke to The Scoop noted that while she agrees that the survey is a true reflection of the current state of criminal activities in Lagos, some improvements have been made within the last few years and credited it mostly to the Lagos State Security Trust Fund, an independent body commissioned in the early days of the incumbent governor, ‘Tunde Fashola.
‘‘I won’t say the report is not correct. I think it’s correct. But Lagos is safer now, at least, compared to before. Things will improve. The money for the Security Trust Fund is judiciously spent, I think.”