Nigeria has been ranked among the top ten criminal markets in the world for human trafficking, firearms, illicit cannabis, and heroin trade, fauna crimes, synthetic drugs, and non-renewable resource crimes by the Global Organized Crime Index for 2021.
According to the index, the countries with the highest levels of criminality are those that are experiencing conflict or fragility, and these countries are particularly vulnerable to organized crime.
According to the report, the Democratic Republic of Congo topped the list of the criminal markets with a score of 7.75, followed by Columbia 7.66; Myanmar 7.59; Mexico 7.56; Nigeria 7.15; Iran 7.10; Afghanistan 7.08; Iraq 7.05; the Central African Republic 7.04 and Honduras 6.08.
Other high-scoring countries include Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, where conflicts have decimated the formal economies, led to mass displacement and an influx of weapons.
The Institute for Security Studies and INTERPOL collaborated on the report as part of the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime.
Tuvalu 1.54, Nauru 1.76, Sao Tome & Principe 1.78, Liechtenstein 1.88, Samoa 2.04, Vanuatu 2.20, Marshal Island 2.31, Kiribati 2.35, Luxembourg 2.36, and Monaco 2.43 are the lowest-scoring countries with better resilience and social safety.
The report states, “In breaking down criminality and looking at the 10 criminal markets covered, the global average was slightly lower at 4.65, with human trafficking determined to be the most pervasive worldwide (with a global average of 5.58). Indeed, human trafficking features in the top five criminal markets of every continent in the world. After the trafficking of people, the illicit cannabis trade and arms trafficking were assessed to be the second and third most pervasive markets worldwide, with global averages of 5.10 and 4.92, respectively.”
According to the index, human traffickers exploit victims for profit both within and outside of national borders, using sexual exploitation, forced labor/modern slavery, forced begging, organ trafficking, and child soldier recruitment, with the vast majority of victims being women and girls.
It affirmed that opportunities for human trafficking have increased with internet technology, which provides both a ready online market and, simultaneously, the means to exploit people with greater anonymity, adding that the human trafficking market is present in a wide range of contexts, from both stable countries to those in conflict, often overlapping with other criminal markets, such as human smuggling.
The Index data further shows that, as with criminal markets, East Africa is home to the most influential criminal actors on the continent, driven predominantly by state-embedded actors.
Overall, state-embedded actors scored 7.22 in the region with Central Africa (7.55) leading the way, followed by North Africa (7.17), West Africa (6.90) and Southern Africa (6.90).
The report reads, “Criminal networks are also prevalent across all regions in Africa, but none more so than in East Africa (6.83) and West Africa (6.43). On the other hand, while Central Africa is home to countries with some of the highest levels of state capture in the world, criminal networks in numerous countries in the region are fairly weak.
“While mafia-style groups are the lowest-scoring criminal actor type across the continent, there are several countries in Africa where highly organised gangs, armed groups and militias yield significant influence in the criminal landscape, many of whom have even been strengthened by the COVID-19 pandemic, capitalising on openings in illicit markets and in doing so consolidating control over the communities in which they operate.”