In Praise of Community Policing, By Issa Aremu



I join many Nigerians to acknowledge and appreciate the remarkable activism of Mr Mohammed Adamu,mni since January 15, 2019 he was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari as the 20th Inspector General of Police of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. His tenure has witnessed landmark security legislation and establishment of institution aimed at repositioning the police force and ensure internal security (IS). I recall that on the 24th June 2019, President Buhari signed the Nigeria Police Trust Fund (Establishment) Bill into law. The six (6) year- Act, provides funds for the training and retraining of personnel of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), aimed at providing the Force with modern security equipment as well as improve the general welfare of the personnel. Honorable Minister of Police Affairs, Mr. Maigari Dingyadi, had since inaugurated the board of the Police Trust Fund.

The IG has been singled out as a passionate driver of the principle of Community Policing programme, commendable and timely. He has since initiated some steps to promote peoples’ ownership of policing by engaging with the state governors and other stakeholders through various “regional” security summits across the different geopolitical zones in the country. Many Nigerians have commended the disbandment of Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) by the Inspector-General of Police, as a mark of sensitivity to people’s legitimate protest against the excesses of some few in the force. Community policing (CP) is a relatively new complimentary approach to overcoming the challenges of insecurity. It involves all stakeholders and Communities in Policing. Indeed CP is a practical way of democratizing policing in a democratic system. I commend the Nigeria Governors’ Forum led by its chairman, Dr Kayode Fayemi for initiating the peace meeting with the leadership of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), security agencies and other stakeholders on Monday January 25, 2021, on the recent security challenges in Ondo State.

 

In principle and details, that singular meeting was an art of Community Policing in action we just witnessed in Ondo as contained in the Community Policing HandBook. I am excited by some of the outcomes of the GF meeting which show that when there is a community engagement, we can overcome any security threats. Godliness is in the details of some of the resolutions. The first was the consensus by all stakeholders around the mantra: that “security and welfare of the people of Nigeria is the primary purpose of government as enshrined in the 1999 constitution of Nigeria as amended.” What should be added is that in a democracy, it’s the police that is constitutionally mandated to guarantee internal security.

Secondly, stakeholders also emphasized the unity and indivisibility of Nigeria adding that insecurity is a national challenge, not peculiar to any tribe or region but must be addressed by the cooperation of all. We must stop profiling criminals and their victims. 1999 constitution describes all Nigerians as citizens. Only Criminals would profit from unconstitutional profiling of criminals and their victims instead of calling them for what they are: criminals. Farmers and headers are working men and women. Herding and farming just as working in a factory is not a function of your tongue but skills and productivity. Every avoidable clash between farmers and headers pushes Nigeria further into food in security and import dependency. This should guide national narratives on avoidable clashes between ordinary producers being criminalized by their origins. The Ondo meeting also made the point that “Security agencies have been trying to stem the tide of criminality in the country but must step up their efforts in the fight”. We must stop magnifying the few security threats of criminals. On the contrary we must amplify some successes of the police and security agencies in combating crimes. Remarkable innovations and changes under IGP Adamu’s leadership are well documented. There was Operation Puff Adder, supported by other tactical police departments. This innovation led to mass arrest of criminals, recovery of firearms and stolen vehicles, and rescue of thousands of crime victims. Notwithstanding the persistent occasional threats of bandits, crime rate across the country has been stabilized. Significantly too, is the new professionalism of the police working with other stakeholders and security agencies in ensuring the conduct of peaceful, free and fair national and state elections. Nigeria just marked 21 years of uninterrupted democracy. Credit goes to the Police service for maintenance of law and order during often raucous campaigns. The most recently celebrated was the concluded successful Edo and Ondo State elections under your leadership. The police in collaboration with other security agencies commendably mid- wived credible, free and secured election adjudged among the best global electoral practices.

 

This is where Community Policing comes in to upscale the good work of the police service . GF’s meeting also resolved that “There is the need to build a partnership for peace and security with MACBAN and jointly wage war against criminality.” It went furthers to say “There must be an enduring framework with MACBAN in a way that will help address security issues.” I will suggest that the enduring framework should not just for MACBAN but for all segments of the community who are coping with security challenges of varying dimensions. It was not MACBAN that shut down greater parts of Imo state two days ago. It was some youth believed to be members of the Eastern Security Network (ESN) who dared to engage the military in a war of attrition. .Lastly is the role of the Media in ensuring peace and security. According to the GF, “Fake news is another issue that makes our security worse than solving it”. “The order of the Ondo State Governor was misconstrued and misrepresented by a section of the media. He only ordered those occupying the Forest Reserves in Ondo State illegally to quit”. the governors disclosed!Possibly as long as there are fake people, agent provocateurs and mischief makers, there would properly be fake news. My suggestion is that all stakeholders must communicate the truths to counter fake news which again can only be possible within the context of all inclusive community policing committees which the IGP had laid out in his vision of CP.

Issa AREMU mni