It’s not a nice feeling to be caught in a web of dangerous or life-threatening situations. It’s even worse for it to happen in our dear country, Nigeria, where systems are often crippled to the point of slow response or all-out inactivity. Always self-prioritise and take the necessary safety measures in case of emergencies.
We’ve compiled some vital steps to take when it feels like you are in harm’s way.
Police is your friend
An important first step to take when involved in life-threatening situations is to visit and make an official report to the nearest police station in your neighbourhood. Never take matters into your own hands, especially if such problems escalate to involve violence.
The Nigerian Police Force (NPF) has a dedicated website with the official mobile numbers of each state’s PROs and another page with emergency numbers for every state. In cases where you’ve been a victim of cybercrime, they have an official website where you can file a complaint or report suspected individuals.
Use national and state emergency lines
Many Nigerians understandably have trust issues when it comes to the functionality and responsiveness of systems that have been put in place by the government. The emergency services are one such systems, but it’s not a good bet to rule them out completely.
Nigeria’s toll-free emergency number is 112. It’s an umbrella code that caters to all emergencies from fire outbreaks to road accidents or flood and even personal safety. It’s also important to get familiar with the emergency services in your state of residence. For instance, Lagos State has contact numbers for designated agencies.
Amplify your cry for help on social media
Some social media platforms have proven to be effective in helping people get out of life-threatening situations or get the help they need. For instance, X (formerly Twitter) has become a go-to for people to get the public, and sometimes, local authorities’ attention.
Police officers like Benjamin Hundeyin and Olumuyiwa Adejobi have gained popularity for taking up requests or offering guidance to citizens on X. The NPF also has an official account on the platform, dedicated to receiving complaints about erring police officers.
In addition, several cases ranging from missing persons, fraud or abuse have been solved because they were shared on X. It’s important to follow relevant security-related accounts and reach out whenever you find yourself in life-threatening situations.
Inform trusted contacts
It’s important to let everyone around you know what is going on as silence will only embolden perpetrators of abuse, intimidation or harassment. Inform your family members and friends about what is going on.
In urgent situations where you can’t get to family and friends quickly, inform your neighbours.
Use technology to your advantage
Apple recently released an iOS 17 feature called Check-In. The feature detects when you’ve arrived at your destination and automatically informs family and friends. Every 15 minutes during your trip, the feature also asks if you’ve gotten to your destination. If you don’t respond, it’d automatically share useful information with loved ones. It’s important to get familiar with security features on your mobile devices and set them up ahead of time.
Another useful hack is to take photos, audio and video recordings when you find yourself in distressing situations. The evidence gathered can help the police or other security agencies carry out a smooth investigation and absolve you in case of false accusations.
Know your legal rights
Many Nigerians land in avoidable situations because they don’t know their rights. It’s important to get familiar with your fundamental human rights as a Nigerian citizen to avoid being a pawn in the hands of corrupt police officers, landlords or people who want to ride on your ignorance.
This should always be the last resort. You might sustain serious injuries, get implicated and even land in jail while trying to defend yourself.
However, just as Yoruba people are commonly assumed to make empty threats, doing so could save you from potentially threatening situations and get you flagged as not-so-easy targets. Still, It’s important to always gauge the situation properly before taking the bet on self-defence.
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