Nigeria is being touted as one of the most insecure countries in the world, after it recently became the world-leader in importation of armored vehicles.
Nigeria took the title from Iraq, Afghanistan and Latin American countries, and it is estimated that about 30 percent of customers for armoured vehicles worldwide come from Nigeria.
In just the past 5 years, about 800 – 900 units of armored vehicles have been imported into the country, coming at a cost of over N60billion.
In 2011 alone, Nigeria imported 600 and 1,000 armoured vehicles , coming behind Iraq, Afghanistan and Latin America. But recent figures however indicate that Nigeria has overtaken these countries on account of growing insecurity, as well as a seemingly love by the elite for amoured vans.
While the position of Iraq and Afghanistan as major importers of armoured vehicles is understandable because of the war situation in those regions, not a few have wondered why Nigeria should be number one in the world.
Gerald Gho, a security expert who spoke to our reporter on the thriving high profile business said that before and during the 2011 general elections for instance, politicians massively placed orders for heavily fortified anti-ballistic vehicles.
He said, “A lot of politicians and wealthy Nigerians embarked on high level security measures around their residences, particularly in the face of high-profile kidnappings that the country has witnessed.”
The high rate of small arms proliferation in the country may be another reason that armoured cars have become a common sight in Nigeria, he added.
It costs between N60million and N80million to armour an imported Sport Utility Vehicle, depending on the different levels of fortification, while the starting price to armour a saloon cars is put at N45million and above.
Saloon cars can also be fortified up to levels B6 (AK – 47 8M-16 Protection) and B7 Armour-piercing rifle protection” according to manufacturers sources.
Describing the position of Nigeria on armoured vehicle importation rating as no exaggeration, Huan Ka Kyui, a high ranking official of an armoured vehicle manufacturing company in Thailand, said that the first time his company received a request for an armoured car from a Nigerian was as far back as in 2003 and since then, the number has increased steadily.
John Graham, Brand Manager Armoured, Military and AVM (Armoured Vehicle Modifier) Programme for the Jaguar Land Rover group said Nigeria is the emerging market for anti-ballistic vehicles, adding that armoured vehicles are classified into Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) which can be used for military operations, Cash-In-Transit (C-I-T), ambulances, mobile clinics and passenger vehicles.
Special Purpose Vehicles are mostly purchased by banks and security operatives, while the passenger vehicles are used by individuals and government at various levels. These armoured cars and specialised vehicles customised from such brands as Jaguar, Mercedes Benz S-Class to the Cadillac Escalade and Toyota Land Cruiser, do not come cheap. (BusinessDay)