Armed Robbery in Nigeria- A Trend Analysis

Crime in Nigeria appears to be on the rise. Incidents such as Armed robbery, kidnapping, armed attacks and civil unrest were widely reported across the country this week.  As socio-economic conditions in the country remain dire, criminal elements are taking advantage of the poorly equipped law enforcement agencies, by attacking individuals and corporations.

Also on the rise are reports of bank robberies, which is a major concern for both bank workers and bank customers alike. With the declining economy and growing unemployment rate, it is likely that such criminal behavior will persist.


  • Bulwark Intelligence Data Analysis shows that Lagos state recorded the highest number of robbery incidents, between August 2016 and March 2017.
  • The analysis also shows that armed robbery incidents increased in March 2017.
  • There is a known correlation between crime and festive seasons in which crime increases a month prior to holidays.
  • This explains the spike in August prior to the Eid holiday in September and the spike in November prior to the Christmas holiday in December.
  • This is also the explanation the increase in March armed robbery incidents, ahead of the Easter holiday in April.


Some of the most common types of robberies experienced in Nigeria are home robberies, car robberies and bank robberies.

If armed robbers want to carry out an attack while the occupants are in the house, the criminals use various tactics to lure them out of the home including switching off running power generator sets or turning on tap water.

When it comes to traffic robberies, there is typically a spike during political campaign seasons, in which hoodlums take advantage of the rally crowds on the street to attack vehicles and rob occupants.

However, in a number of states across the country, carjacking takes place on highways and isolated roads. In a recent case, on 4 January 2017, motorist plying the Asaba-Ughelli road were warned to stop their vehicle due to an ongoing robbery on the road.

Vehicles parked along the Asaba-Ughelli highway during a robbery operation on 4 January 2017. Source: Pulseng
Vehicles parked along the Asaba-Ughelli highway during a robbery operation on 4 January 2017. Source: Pulseng

Another robbery trend is the targeting of malls and business establishments. On 8 January 2016, armed men stormed the grocery section of the Shoprite mall in Warri area of the state. The robbers escaped after looting shops that they destroyed.In addition to robbery of individual passengers, there are also cases of robbery attacks against bullion vans. Robbers strategically position themselves at routes applied by the unsuspecting drivers to hijack the van.

A recent attack was reported on 30 March 2017, where about five armed robbers hijacked a bullion van carrying cash to an undisclosed bank along Igwuruta Road in Ikwerre local government area of Rivers state and carted away millions of naira. The robbers intercepted the van, and shot directly at it, wounding the police escorts.

In addition to these are cases of bank robberies and robbery attacks on police stations, to raid their armouries. An incident occurred on 15 January 2016 in Ikare, Ondo State whereby fifteen people were killed including a police officer during a simultaneous attack on a police station and a bank; The robbers came dressed in police uniforms.

robbery-day-of-the-weekThe Bulwark Intelligence Data Analysis graph indicates that robbery attacks (over the last 7 months) including home invasions, opportunistic crime, organized crime, typically take place on weekdays with Tuesday recording the highest number of reported cases whilst Saturdays reported the lowest levels of occurrence.

Sundays recorded an unusually high amount of robbery incidents for the weekend. This correlates with recent reports showing a spike in home robberies on Sundays, while home occupants are away at church.



Bank robberies across the country have been occurring frequently as well.

Since January 2017, at least five high profile cases have been reported in the media. Many other incidents go unreported in the news.

This security threat affects not just bank workers, but customers and passerby’s as well.

bank-robbery-suspect-caughtBank robbers use a variety of tactics to gain access to the bank during both work hours and non-office hours. In some cases, a group of gunmen storm the bank wearing military uniforms and are coerced into allowing access into the banks.

In other cases, the bank robbers have used dynamites to destroy the security doors and gain access into financial institutions. In one reported incident in on 1st December 2016, in Alaba Market, Lagos State, the armed robbers poured acid on the padlock of the burglary proof at the entrance of the warehouse. After gaining entry they escaped with merchandise worth millions of Naira.

There have also been cases of robbers’ tracking bank customers who withdraw cash, trailing them and robbing them as they depart. Perpetrators pose as bank customers, and look out for customers withdrawing large amounts of cash. Once their target is spotted, they contact their colleagues outside the bank with a description of their target.

Bank robberies continue to be an issue. Recently in Imo State, on 22 February 2017, five people including a bank manager were killed when 10 robbers attacked the bank. While in Kogi State, a recent bank robbery on 29 March 2017 in the state left residents in fear after the attack resulted in the death of two policemen attached to the bank.


There is no indication that the situation will change in the short term, but it is assessed that large presence of security forces will likely reduce the risk posed by criminal elements. All banks are advised to remain vigilant and ensure to have adequate security presence within their premises during operational period.

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