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Crime rate in Kano surges as phone snatchers invade city, experts blame high poverty level

It was around 11pm and the ever-busy Ibrahim Taiwo Road was silent and free from the hustle and bustle of its impatient commuters.

The hard cries of conductors and ever-revving engines of carryalls had died, too.

Bello Sagir, a Kano-based language practitioner, had just hung up a call and was trying to push the phone into a side pocket when a man flagged down the Keke-Napep he was boarding.

It was as swift as it was unexpected as a fierce-looking young man emerged from nowhere and snatched his phone.

The language practitioner could not put up any resistance no matter how hard he tried; it was at knife point.

Sagir’s experience is similar to that of a business man in the city, AbdulmalikShuaib, who lost his phone Infinix X4 worth over N70,000 to a similar incident along Dangi Interchange.

He was riding his motorcycle one evening when two bloodshot-eyed phone snatchers armed to the teeth sandwiched him.

“Give us your phone, save your soul,” they said, brandishing sharp-edged daggers at him.

These days, phone snatchers in Kano city are the final arbiter; they have the final say as they decide who lives and who dies, who is dispossessed and who escapes.

Many of their victims are not as lucky as Sagir or Shuaib.

Some others have lost both their phone and their life; others have sustained serious wounds and bear the scars for life.

Sometime in September 2020, phone snatchers ended the life of a physiotherapist working with Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital.

TijjaniShuaib was taking a walk one Sunday around 10pm at Jan Bulo, when the hoodlums stabbed him to death.

Why The Menace Increases

MuktarNura, a lecturer at the Department of Criminology Security studies at the School of Continuing Education, Bayero University, Kano, attributed the rise in the cases of phone snatching in the city to some factors, namely, high rate of poverty, substance abuse, unemployment, lack of proper Islamic knowledge, among others.

He said: “Poverty, unemployment and substance abuse are some of the key factors that lead so many vulnerable youth to engage in phone snatching.

“This is due to the fact that in many instances the perpetrators of this crime are not in their real senses and want to meet their demands.

He added that moral decadence, which pushes many of these youth with little or no Islamic knowledge to engage in such illegal acts, and victims’ attitudes of displaying fancy mobile phones when outdoors are also other push factors that drive them to engage in unwanted behaviour like phone snatching.

He added: “Easy or available ways or places of selling out these snatched or stolen items also to some extent contribute to the increase in the menace of phone snatching as many of these stolen items might easily be unlocked by many computer software experts who in some cases are also the syndicates of these criminals.”

What The Authorities In The State Are To Stem The Menace?

The state Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of operations, SuleBalarabe, said the operatives of Anti-Daba unit of the command recently arrested no fewer than 60 phone snatchers.

However, the command is joining forces with unions of phone sellers to curve the menace, as it organized a workshop for phone sellers on Friday, believing phone sellers have a role to play.

Speaking on what the Kano State Government is doing to avert the crime in the state, the Chief Press Secretary to the state governor, Abba Anwar, said the government is giving security agencies in the state all the necessary support and cooperation to fight such crimes.

According to him, the government has recently installed CCTV cameras at various locations with a control room at the police headquarters to monitor the state.

Anwar said: “Such crimes are common features of urban cities across the globe. Yet Kano State Government would not relent. First of all, he government organizes security summits to encourage community policing.

“In order to fight unemployment and substance abuse, which are some of the root causes, in the first tenure, the Ganduje administration empowered about 1million youth and preparations are on top gear to embark on other empowerment programmes.

“Youth in hundreds have been employment in the state civil service and the government has established a multi-billion skills acquisition centre, where youth will be trained in 24 different types of skills.

He added that to tackle substance abuse, the government has established a task force on drug abuse and open market drug will soon be banned as the traders will be relocated to the multi-billion naira commodity exchange market Dan Gwauro where their activities will be efficiently supervised.

What Are The Solutions?

MukhtarNura said that there is the need for the government, CBO’s as well as the general members of the community to establish possible alternative ways of alleviating poverty particularly among the teeming youth through creating job opportunities and other entrepreneur and skills acquisition programmes.

Nura said: “Parents and Guardians should take up responsibility; and government, CSO’s, other relevant stakeholders as well as general members of the society have to take possible measures of tackling substance abuse among the youth.”

He added that through public awareness, preaching at worship places, recreational programmes and campaign this can be achieved, saying that strict rules and regulations that will guide the business of buying and selling second-hand mobile phones be enforced.

Culled from Daily Trust