Published On: Fri, Jun 21st, 2019

Insecurity: A case for community policing

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By  Lawrence Olaoye

Unargubly, the main challenge threatening the very existence of Nigeria today is insecurity. While there are myriads of others, security of lives and properties takes pre-eminence.
The main essence of governance, according to the constitution, is to guarantee the security and provide welfare to the entire citizenry.
So, the success or failure of any government world over will basically be assessed on these two parameters.
Even though President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration’s focus since 2015 Change mantra was on insecurity, economy and corruption, the challenge of the first seems to be more imperative now than ever.
According to the President, there can be no meaningful economic development without first tackling the issue of security of lives and properties. It therefore behoves on government at all levels to invent an unconventional solution to resolve the insecurity challenge for peace to return.
Time has now come for the government to put in place all constitutional measures geared at confronting the menace of banditry,
insurgency and kidnapping that have now become scourges inflicting debilitating pains on the psyche of the populace regardless of status. The ubiquitous strikes of the dare Devils has made free movement within the country a dangerous venture.
Bandits and kidnappers across the country have grown even more brazen in their attacks on the people. The other day, kidnappers along Kaduna-Abuja expressway dared the convoy of the Kaduna state governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai. They only bowed to the superior fire power of his police escorts.
Recently, Ondo state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu’s convoy was similarly attacked by kidnappers but he escaped by whiskers after they engaged the police escorts in a gun battle.
Prominent traditional rulers have been successfully abducted across the country. Men of influence have tested the hemlock from dare Devils kidnappers. Only those who are lucky to come out of their captivity alive after paying huge ransom live to tell the stories. The unlucky ones have their destinies truncated leaving behind tears and sorrow.
Now that no one is safe, the nation’s security architecture must have to be tampered with to accommodate the life threatening developments.
Central policing, as being presently practiced, obviously is not working and cannot work.
Since the alteration of the nation’s security architecture will require constitution amendments, it behoves on the Ninth Assembly to quickly set in motion machineries for the amendment of the ground norm to, at least, allow community policing.
Traditional rulers should be further empowered to monitor the activities of their subjects and report any suspicious movement to the security agencies. Since criminals are not ghosts and they carry out their nefarious activities after painstaking plots and plans at a base among the people. Chances are that with community surveillance, they could be nabbed even before they strike.
Community leaders know everyone in their areas and could easily point out criminals to the law enforcement agents if they are encouraged to do so. Zamfara state governor, Bello Matawalle, recently took the bull by the horns when he decended heavily on some traditional rulers for allegedly aiding and abetting bandits in the state.
While he would applaud the governor for taking a bold step to address the challenge of banditry in Zamfara by whipping the compromised community leaders, it must however be stressed that they can only be held accountable if they have official recognition and provisions to take responsibilities for the security of their domains.
It is in this line of thought that the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squard (SARS) led by Tony Ojukwu, Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), recommended the creation of local government and state police to the government.
The President had already directed the Ministry of Justice, Inspector General of Police and NHRC to work out modalities for the implementation of the report of the Presidential Panel.
He requested that the report be studied and a white paper produced within three months. Buhari’s specific directive, according to him, was that a three-man panel be set up to produce the white paper.
“The report of the white paper committee will form the basis of the decisions of the government on the many recommendations, including the setting up of state and local government police made by the Ojukwu panel,” Buhari’s spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu explained.
This is reassuring in the sense that having state and community police will give the state governors some measures of control over the security situation in their domains. As presently constituted, state commissioners of police are not answerable to the governors. Immediate past governor of Zamfara state was so frustrated when he could not mobilize security forces to confront the bandits that he public relinquished his appellate as the chief security officer of the state.
Having community and state police will encourage inter-regional cooperation among the governors to rid the country of miscreants who are currently making life hellish for the people.

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