Informal security: it implications on urban safety in Nigeria
The greatest challenges facing the world in the 21st Century” are poverty, inequality, insecurity and climate change (Beal and Fox, 2009). With more than half of the world’s population living in urban areas, the reality of the 21st Century cities is that these issues will impact strongly on cities and as Yunusa (2010) submitted, the battle against these mutually reinforcing situations shall be won or. lost in cities.
Urban insecurity threatens the quality of life, human rights, social and economic stability and sustainable development in cities around the world (UN Habitat, 2005). This is especially true in developing countries that are doubly burdened with high poverty rates and many informal settlements. The poor are the worst affected by urban crime and violence, regardless of their geographical location (Ki Moon, 2007). Literature further attested to the fact that usually, areas of the city that are most blighted by violence also happen to be the poorest (Briceno-Leon Zubillaga 2002, Winton, 2004).
Security is a pre-condition for urban development (DFID, 2006). In fact, according to UNDP (2007), peace can only be achieved when cities have achieved victory on the security front where victory spells freedom from fear as well as on the economic and social front where victory means freedom from want. Therefore, understanding the relationships among urban poverty, urban insecurity and urban development are important research focus, especially in Nigeria, where over 70% of her population live below the poverty line in the over 400 slums scattered across her cities and are daily confronted with a deteriorating public security situation.
The security situation in Nigeria has exacerbated in recent times, and this has manifested in high crimes rates as well as astonishing frequency in incidents of kidnapping and terrorism.
Between January 20, 2012 and February 21, 2013, the News Analysis Portal of the UnitedNations (IRIN, 2013) recorded 193 terror related incidents in Northern Nigeria, mostly in thecapital cities of Abuja, Damaturu, Kaduna, Kano and Maiduguri. The Africa Insurance
Organization (2012) also reported that Nigeria was the 2012 ‘kidnap for ransom’ capital of the world, accounting for a quarter of globally reported cases. Furthermore, with a rapidly growing young population, the threat of violence continues to be a real challenge. A cursory analysis of news reports points to increasing cases of domestic violence, child abuse, proliferation of youth gangs, corruption and various forms of organized crime.
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The World Bank’s (2011) position is that if decisive action is not taken, the scale of urban violence can eclipse that of open warfare. For millions of people in cities of the developing world, violence, or the fear of violence, is a daily reality (UN Habitat, 2007). Rising urban crime across Africa contributes to pervasive fears that impede commerce, fray social capital, and undermine normal urban activity (Baker (2010). The Global Report on Human Settlements ‘(2007) estimated that 60% of all urban residents have been victims of crime, with 70% of them in Asia and Africa. Alemika and Chukwuma (2012) from a 2012 nationwide criminal victimization survey discovered that while 75% of Nigerian urban residents lived in fear of being victims of crime, 31% were victims in the past year.