Between Gun Violence and Banditry: Is America Safer than Nigeria?

Homicides are up by nearly 14 per cent in New York, 22 per cent in Los Angeles and 13 percent in Washington DC in 2021. In fact, the year 2021 has been described as the most deadly year of gun violence in the US in the last two decades.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes, in the case of murders per a million people, Nigeria ranked 121.8, 3 times more than the United States of America. However, the United States ranked 88.8, 59 times more than Nigeria which ranked 127th in the case of gun crimes in both countries. 

In the case of homicidal crimes per 100,000 people, Nigeria ranked 31, while the United States ranked 59.  In the matter of drug use, Nigeria was placed at 0.7 per cent, while the United States was 0.57 percent. The report also said that crime levels in Nigeria have increased 82.35, that is 47 percent more than the United States which ranked 55.84.

In terms of residents who believe that crime rates have increased in the past 3 years, Nigeria ranked 27th, 11 per cent more than the United States which ranked 65.22 on 44th position. A look into the United Nations report clearly shows that Nigeria and the United States are not significantly different in terms of safety and insecurity.

A social blogger, Ayodele  Ogunjobi,  stated that Nigeria security situation is different from that of the United States. According to him, Nigeria is in a state of war, particularly in the northeast and it is that element of terrorism that makes Nigeria’s security situation look gloomy.

Speaking further, Ogunjobi stated that Nigeria should embrace a decentralized police system, with state and local governments having the constitutional backing to operate their policing systems in manners that they can afford.  This will ensure police efficiency and ease of security operations.

The United States, for example, operates both federal and state police forces. The country has 75 federal law enforcement agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which deals with interstate crimes. The FBI has some 20,000 plainclothes agents who usually concern themselves with major offences such as murder, kidnapping and robbery. It publishes a list of the ‘most wanted fugitives’ and provides state and local police forces with relevant information that can help them fight crimes in their domain.

According to reports, the FBI has had its role expanded to include ‘homeland security and there are talks of merging or at least co-coordinating the activities of the FBI with those of the Central Intelligence Agency. Each US state also has a reserve national guard under the command of the state government that can be called on to deal with civil unrest such as riots, as well as natural catastrophes like earthquakes, fires, floods and hurricanes. All these police forces have their jurisdiction and laws governing their operations in the United States.

A report by the United Nations recommends an approximate median of 300 police officers per 100,000 inhabitants. Put in another way, this is approximately 100 policemen to 30,000 inhabitants of any country.

Nigeria’s 371,800 policemen to a population of over 200 million people have gone far below that recommendation. Little wonder the country battles with numerous security issues. There are quite a numbers of lessons to learn from America, much as citizens of both countries live with significantly enormous fears of internal violence and insecurity.

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