The last time Nigeria released a report on crime statistics was in June 2018 and experts say it is costing a country that is struggling with insecurity on multiple fronts.
The federal agency responsible for producing, analyzing and publishing the data, the National Bureau of Statistics (BNS), had first exit crime data in 2014. But that only covered events in Akwa Ibom, one of many states.
In June 2017, he share the first national report, relating to infringements noted the previous year. The report shows the number of offenses committed, classifying them according to crimes against persons, against property and against lawful authority, for the 36 states as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The NBS explained that the data was provided by the Nigerian police and then validated by them.
The following year, the agency published an even more detailed report on crime statistics. It breaks down offenses against persons into over 12 crimes, offenses against property into over 11 and offenses against lawful authority into over seven crimes. The report also gives the number of police stations, precincts, area commands and police officers in each state.
Together, the two reports help understand the trend of crime across the country and indicate hotspots for specific offences. But the NBS hasn’t released a more updated version in four years.
Sunday Ichedi, head of the office’s communications and public relations department, says they are not to blame as they could not release statistics without police cooperation.
“When they don’t give us, we can’t force them to produce,” he told HumAngle.
Ichedi, who described the problem as systemic, confirmed that the NBS has made repeated requests but does not always get answers.
“Even if we try here, the statistics in the line ministries are not all developed. And you need good statisticians to manage sectoral statistics. Talk about crime statistics, education statistics, health statistics, etc. But if you go there, you find administrative agents who manipulate data, which should not be the case.
“We cannot manufacture. We must rely on them to give us. We’re doing our best to build capacity, but it’s up to them to provide us with the data,” he added. “If the Nigerian police do not do their job, we cannot force them. We are like preachers; we will always try to preach to them to repent.
When HumAngle asked if inducements had been provided in the two consecutive years in which crime statistics were released, the NBS spokesperson said he could not comment on the matter.
Over time, crime statistics have appeared in a few other NBS publications, such as the Drug Crime Statistics (2010-2014) report, Drug abuse and law enforcement (2012-2016), a 2016 report compiled by prison authorities, and the 2017 and 2020 Social Statistics Reports, which mainly include figures from the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), the National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) . This latest report also contains 2016-2017 figures on missing persons, stolen vehicles and police rape cases.
Meanwhile, the police website has no resources, reports or documents section. the safety tips page is empty and it is said to be being updated.
The NBS has Noted that crime statistics include allegations of offenses committed made to the police, trials, convictions, acquittals, prison population, etc. The agency explains that for the Nigerian Police, which is one of the most important data collectors, the process starts from the station, which then passes the collected data to the division headquarters and then to the headquarters of the command and then to Force Headquarters.
The force has a research and planning department which is responsible for “request and receive statistical information on crime, accidents, police personnel, traffic violations, human rights violations, domestic violence, etc., from commands”. It is also expected to maintain a “rich and reliable database” of vital statistics. According to the NBS, the police produce both annual reports and a monthly appreciation of crime reports, mainly for internal use.
John Ogbonaya Amadi, who is the acting deputy inspector general in charge of the department, however, declined to comment and instead referred us to police spokesman Olumuyiwa Adejobi.
But Adejobi did not respond to HumAngle’s requests for several days and despite multiple reminders.
The problem of lack of statistical coordination and transparency persists despite public funding. A study of recent federal budgets showed that more than ₦947 million has been approved for the Ministry of Police Affairs as well as police trainings across the country for projects related to research and development. These also included installing and deploying a crime database, generating data and carrying out a national survey in partnership with the NBS, digitizing departmental records and purchasing equipment for research, planning and standardization.
Muazu Mijinyawa, a criminologist and researcher based in Ibadan, pointed out that fostering access to crime statistics helps solve insecurity. It serves as a reality check since official data is supposed to be more reliable than information gathered by citizens and other groups.
“When you have accurate or near-accurate statistics, you will know the major crimes that threaten the nation or the state. This helps us understand the distribution of crime,” he explained.
This will also allow law enforcement agencies to know where to focus their resources. He urged the police to develop a more functional data reporting system and end victim shaming so that more people can report criminal incidents at its stations.
The lack of access to recent crime statistics shows Nigeria’s lack of development preparedness, observed Damilola Ojetunde, data analyst with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).
“How can you tell the story of Nigeria that doesn’t have up-to-date crime statistics? And crime is not seasonal. It happens every day.
He noted that there is a department of planning, research and statistics in all government institutions, with which the NBS works, and wondered what the relevant police unit was doing. He said he was sure the institution would attribute the problem to a funding shortage.
“They fall back on civilians to give them money to finance investigations. We have seen very well the police pushing vehicles on the road because they have no money to refuel. It’s as bad as that. So is it the government institution that doesn’t even have funding for its basic operations that will now have funding for investigations or research? ” He asked.
“It tells us the attitude of the government towards growth, development and security, because progress is impossible without data. Most of the time in this part of the world we are reactive because it is impossible to be proactive without data. You must rely on historical information to plan for future events. Instead, when these things happen, we start looking for ways to mitigate.
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