On Tuesday, former Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai (retd.), revealed that Nigeria currently ranks fifth globally in countries affected by organized crime, following the Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia, Myanmar, and Mexico.
Buratai cited the Global Organized Crime Index and stated that Nigeria also ranks second among 54 countries in Africa and first among 15 countries in West Africa in terms of organized crime.
During a one-day international conference on organized crime in Abuja, titled “Organized crime network as emergent threats to national security,” organized by Igbinedion University in collaboration with the Buratai Centre for Contemporary Security Affairs, he disclosed that other countries affected by organized crime include Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.
According to the Global Organized Crime Index, Nigeria has a criminality score of 7.15 out of 10, ranking it 5th out of 193 countries. Buratai emphasized that countries experiencing conflict or fragility tend to have the highest criminality levels. He attributed Nigeria’s ranking to porous borders, prolonged conflicts in neighboring countries, such as Somalia, DR Congo, Libya, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Sudan, as well as poverty.
Buratai noted that the influence of jihadist groups in the Sahel region, who exploit vulnerable populations and employ violence to achieve their agendas, also contributes to the proliferation of criminal networks in Nigeria. The absence of effective law enforcement, weak deterrence mechanisms, and weak governance structures further enable criminal organizations to operate with impunity.
He highlighted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a significant transformation in organized crime. Cybercriminal activities saw exponential growth, taking advantage of the increased online activities for work, leisure, and commerce.
Drug traffickers resorted to innovative methods of smuggling illicit goods, concealing them within shipments of essential pandemic supplies. Economic hardships resulting from anti-contagion measures also increased vulnerability to human trafficking and exploitation.
Buratai stressed the need for governments, international organizations, and law enforcement agencies to collaborate comprehensively to address these issues. By implementing stringent measures, conducting thorough investigations, and promoting sustainable development initiatives, a safer and more equitable world can be achieved.
The alarming reality of ongoing criminal activities, including crude oil theft and the displacement of communities for mining minerals, must not be ignored, as they undermine stability, perpetuate violence, and exploitation.
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