Nigeria: Hard Times For Bad Guys

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December 17, 2007: The anti-corruption campaign is making progress. Another former state governor, this one from the oil producing region, was arrested. While governors cannot be arrested while in office, once they are out, they are vulnerable. The anti-corruption commission is monitoring the performance of current governors, with plans to arrest those engaging in corrupt practices. This has forced many governors to be more discreet, and try to hide some of their stealing. That has at least reduced the extent of the corruption.

In the Niger River Delta, theft of oil (tapping into pipelines moving crude to the coast) has enriched dozens of gangs, and led to an arms race. The gangs buy assault rifles and pistols for their members, the better to protect their territory (and access to an oil pipeline). In the last few years, 50-100,000 additional firearms have come into the region. These have had an unpleasant side effect, as the newly armed gangster often uses his weapon to take whatever he wants. Theft, robbery and burglary have increased. The culprits are usually young guys with guns. The police are reluctant to go after these criminals, unless with lots of manpower. The gangsters have plenty of ammo, and will usually put up quite a fight if cornered. The increased number of gun battles produces many civilian casualties, as the fights frequently occur in crowded neighborhoods. The police are often not much better behaved, conducting "raids" or "investigations" that are little more than excuses to steal. In an effort to cut back on this, the government is more than doubling the monthly salary of police. For the lowest paid cop, this means a boost from $84 a month to $220. At the same time, more police will be prosecuted for corrupt acts, including holding commanders responsible to blatant bad behavior by their subordinates.

December 15, 2007: In north-central Nigeria, the city of Bauchi suffered several days of religious violence. Christians and Moslems fought over whether a new mosque could be built in a mixed neighborhood. About a dozen people have died, several dozen more were wounded, and over 3,000 fled their homes to avoid the violence. Dozens of homes and businesses were burned down. The problem is usually Islamic radicals among local Moslems, usually led by a cleric influenced by Saudi Wahhabi missionaries. While Islam has always been more militant than Christianity, this has gotten worse because of the Saudi religious organizations that encourage more militancy and violence against non-Moslems. In Nigeria, this is often made worse because Christians and Moslems are often from different tribes, which sometimes have long standing disputes over land or whatever.

 

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