Monday, December 29, 2008

High Rate of Bank Robberies

If proper statistics are taken, nearly 100 lives of security personnel, bank officials and customers as well as money running into billions of naira must have been lost in countless bank robberies and bullion van attacks in 2008 alone. From Lagos to Aba, Port Harcourt to Kaduna, Ibadan to Enugu, Ilorin to Ile-Ife, the spate of bank robberies has become so alarming and the criminals so daring that it would seem as if our police authorities have gone to sleep as their personnel on sentry duties at the banks often present feeble resistance to the invading robbers’ onslaught. In most cases, these policemen get killed for the robbers to get access into the banks.
Mostly operating in broad daylight during business hours, the robbers would descend on their targets, holding bank officials and customers at gunpoint as they empty the vaults without any form of resistance.
The latest of such bank raids took place in the ancient city of Ile-Ife when daredevil robbers launched Rambo-style attacks on four different banks within the same vicinity. At the end of the operations, no fewer than 10 persons were killed and about 40 others wounded while an undisclosed amount of money was carted away.
Also, bullion vans used by banks for cash movements have become juicy targets of daredevil attacks by robbers who use various means, including unthinkable ones, to accomplish their mission. Stories were told of how brigands riding on motorcycles waylaid a bullion van and succeeded in robbing it in Port Harcourt while another incident was reported where robbers blocked a highway with trailer to rob a bullion van.
So overwhelmed were the banks by these incessant robbery attacks that at a stage they had to lock out their customers for several days in Ibadan and Aba to draw government’s attention to what is fast becoming the growing insecurity of banking services and personnel in the country. They are especially peeved by the police’s obvious inability to curb the alarming trend of bank robbery.
To be sure, the current alarming upsurge in bank robbery in the country cannot be totally detached from the sociological context of the general reasons for the upsurge in most other forms of criminalities in the society. And these include biting poverty and chronic deprivation. Added to these is the stupendous display of affluence by some goons whose source of wealth nobody bothers about. While these are not in any way a justification for social deviance, they are definitely contributory to its prevalence in recent time. This problem is even compounded by the fact that most of the jobless youths, who were engaged as political thugs during past elections but have relapsed into idleness at the conclusion of the elections, now resort to armed robbery with even more daring boldness as they still have with them most of the arms procured for them by their old principals – the politicians.
Also, it is difficult to overrule the possibility of collusion between the invading robbers and some of the target bank officials, bullion van escorts or even policemen on sentry duties at the various banks. This is because most of the attacks are too precise to be mere coincidences.
To get round this problem, the banks need to strengthen their security preparedness. This is why we support the recent directive by the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mike Okiro, that banks must procure bullion vans that are not only bullet-proof, but are also fire and bomb resistant.
There is also the urgent need for Mr. Okiro to find the current situation worrisome enough for him to erase the fear of people in words and more importantly, in action. He should bring the police up-to-date on modern crime detection, prevention and control measures. This, first and foremost, calls for adequate equipment and training of the officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force. It is worrisome that most of the robbery operations are successful as the police are always out-gunned and out-manoeuvred by the obviously better prepared robbers.
Policemen should be adequately remunerated while the compensation package, in case of on-duty death and injury, should be reasonable to encourage the operatives to be more committed to duties. For, it is only logical that if we are to expect any tangible improvement from our law enforcement agents, their conditions of service should be.