BACKLASH With Prisca Sam-Duru: Next Level of Everything
When the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, unveiled ‘Next Level’ as its slogan during the 2019 presidential elections, not very many people saw anything good coming out of the party. While pro- Buhari led government sang their praises for planning to take Nigeria further from ‘Change’ to the ‘Next Level’, anti-Buhari and sceptics dismissed the APC with a wave of the hand. They felt that the party hadn’t done anything with their change mantra and so may not go anywhere with the ‘Next Level’.
Well, if you ask me, even though ‘Next Level’ was just fully activated on Wednesday 29th May, 2019, Nigerians have been experiencing ‘Next Level’ of almost everything evil, since the mantle of leadership got to President Buhari. There has been a sharp increase in the rate of crime in the country, the manner in which it is being perpetrated and the items targeted.
While high profile crime such as armed robbery rate keeps skyrocketing, very low profile ones seem on hot chase to record an overwhelming feat. Nigerians have now taken robbery to the next level!
In the month of May alone, the community where I live recorded about twenty cases of robberies. There have also been similar reports from neighbouring communities. It’s so shameful to narrate some of the incidents as this confirms how badly Nigeria’s economy has dwindled. One of the victims of the robberies, a man who works as a security officer with a company, has had his house burgled three times. On the first visit, the thief or thieves stole some sachets of noodles, few cups of rice and garri, bottle of palm oil, and other petty food stuffs.
Few days later, an aboki (derogatory name for Hausa labourers), was caught with stolen pot of soup and cloths, hidden in his cart. Within the same week, some thieves burgled a house and after stealing few gadgets and food stuffs, also stole chin-chin and from there, went straight to another house where after stealing, forgot some of the chin-chin. You can imagine!
In this same area, robbers broke into a grocery shop and in fact, had a field day. They had the good time of their lives. You can imagine having enough time to drink tea before making away with bottles of wine and other stuffs. Meanwhile, this shop owner pays a certain amount as security fee.
There was also a case where by a suspect allegedly lit fire on a commercial cyclist (aboki), in a bid to force the ‘okada rider’ to part with his motorcycle. The suspect got burnt as well in the process. The ‘aboki’ ran to a nearby house and the owner of the house took him to a hospital. He was said to have died days later. The suspect was caught and taken to the police station, only to reappear days later. The information that went round was that no member of the community was ready to pursue the case for fear of being attacked by the suspect’s gang members. Besides, it was said that the suspect was released because he was beaten black and blue before a ‘Good Samaritan’ called in the police.
After doing their laundry, Mr Stephen’s family spread the cloths in front of their house and relaxed in the sitting room, watching the television. Thieves scaled through the fence and made away with all the cloths. Everything! It was like watching a Nollywood movie.
Not long after, a thief was caught with damp cloths, indicating that they were stolen from where they were hanging.
And just before the end of Rammadan, a thief broke into the house of a carpenter through the window, while the daughter was home alone. The young girl raised alarm and neighbours gathered to apprehend the thief. While escaping through the same route he came in, he held on to a half bag of semovita. It is normal for robbers to abandon their loot while escaping but this thief held on to the half bag of semovita as though his life depended on it, and escaped. What a Next Level thief!
The last experience of the man, whose house was burgled three times, would perhaps remain the worst and most helpless experience of his life. His house was burgled the third time and fortunately, the thief was caught with the stuffs he stole. He had them packed in a Ghana-must-go bag. He was mobbed as usual. And it was decided that he be taken to the police station. Before this man knew what was happening, everyone disappeared, leaving him with a local vigilante. After walking some distance, the vigilante also decided to abandon the man. The man however, managed to get to the police station with the thief. Surprisingly, the police officers asked him to take the thief first to the hospital for treatment, as they do not accept wounded culprits. This man looked up and down and wondered how he would spend money treating the very thief that had been terrorising him. So, he decided to bring him back to the community. On the way, the thief attempted to attack him but he overpowered the thief and in the process, the thief threw down the bag and ran off.
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Are you still wondering why Nigeria has been rebaptised with so many names; poverty capital of the world, poorest country….?
When people say there’s hunger in the land, it takes some of these incidents to understand how grave the situation is. Why would a human being steal a pot of soup or food condiments, if not severe hunger?
The country is in too bad a condition. People are afraid of taking suspects to the police due to fear and lack of trust. And this is an open invitation to more thieves springing up. One thing is certain, its almost impossible for Nigerians to catch a thief or armed robber without first mobbing him or her. In worst case scenario, the culprits are set ablaze. But if the culprit is lucky, help comes before tyre and fuel arrive. So what happens now that people have been told that the police do not entertain any report whereby the suspect has been wounded? Is it possible for people to resist the temptation to carry out jungle justice? Now that communities and of course the society at large are threatened with such ill, and are left with the ensuing tall task, I’m beginning to wonder if we aren’t already sliding into an ‘Advanced Next Level’ of stealing.
The poor masses are definitely experiencing next level of hunger and poverty which has ushered in next level in stealing and other crimes, and until something drastic is done to engage the youths positively as well as revive the economy, we are in for Next level of worst times.