Crime has been getting worse in Nigeria since civilian rule in 1999, or at least this is how it is perceived by the general public. In a nation-wide survey conducted in October 2000, 1,407 respondents were asked, 'has crime abated in your area within the past one year?' 65.8 per cent said crime in their areas had worsened. Of the 33.4 per cent who said the rate of crime had dropped in their areas, most attributed this decline to the emergence of vigilante and anti-crime groups.1 Perceptions of change may be distorted, but for the inhabitants of the big cities, violent crime is still an ever-present reality. In the period January to July 2001, 400 lost their lives to robbers nationwide. In Lagos alone, between August 2000 and May 2001, a total of 718 robbers were killed and 2,680 suspects were arrested at the scene of armed robberies. In the course of those robberies 273 victims lost their lives and 84 policeman were killed.2