Community Security Initiatives: Panacea for Safety of Lives and Property


Special Report by Christopher Afolabi and Atilade Atoyebi 

During the colonial era and shortly after it, Nigeria had Local Authority Police. There was even a lesser outfit in rank called ‘Akoda’ in the then Western Region. At that time there were less crimes and criminality. 

The decentralization enabled each Local Authority to control and secure it’s area of jurisdiction.

Today, there is over-centralisation of the Police Force to effectively combat crimes and criminality ravaging the country. Helpless rural communities are now becoming the main targets of bandits. 

The number of policemen cannot cope with the security workload of today. There are 371,800 policemen in Nigeria as at now. This is not the right figure for a population of 200 million people. The goal as admitted by the government itself is 650,000 police officers and men for the country.

Yes. There are police training colleges in more than 20 locations across the country. The real problems are about quality of the training and facilities in those institutions. Recall January 18, 2013 when former President Goodluck Jonathan inadvertently stopped over at Police College, Ikeja. The filth that confronted him brought the issue of poor facilities in those institutions into the open. Police trainees surely deserve better than what is obtainable now. 

Some Nigerians will remember the period in the past when the Nigeria Police had an efficient intelligence department, popularly known as CID. It is expected that now that information and communication technology drives processes, the police should have been way ahead of criminals in deployment of ICT technology for effectiveness. The media is awashed with crime stories like never before and the novelty by the perpetrators is unparalled in the history of the country.

On balance, the belief in many quarters is that the police force is underfunded.  

This has turned the Force into a beggar organization as many States chip in from time to time by providing operational vehicles and communication equipment. Corporate bodies also render assistance. 

There is the image issue, nevertheless. Unscrupulous officers and men dent the ‘good name’ of the police by engaging in the very atrocities that they have been recruited and trained to curb. Indeed, the challenges facing the Police are many and interwoven.

Little wonder, therefore, why individuals and organisations have been strengthening their private securities as it is now difficult to sleep with both eyes closed. This was what the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu said on assumption of office in January 2019, “My appointment represents a call to duty and a charge to restore the dwindling primacy of the Nigeria Police Force within the internal security architecture of our beloved country.”

Only recently, the Southwest States comprising Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Ondo and Ekiti launched Operation Àmọ̀té̩kùn with Leopard as it’s Logo to expand the security dragnet in their zone. They want to assist the police and other law enforcement agencies to tackle the rising waves of kidnappings, clashes between farmers and herdsmen as well as armed robberies and banditry. They don’t want to wait till eternity before a belated solution is put in place by the Federal Government. 

Already, negative opinions and reviews plus adverse social media posts are going on to thwart the Southwest efforts at combating crime right from the grassroots in the zone. There is a news report making the rounds that the Nigeria Police is threatening to arrest any of the operatives of Operation Àmọ̀té̩kùn found to be carrying illegal weapons. Like Nigerian would say, haba! Why should some of the participants in the scripting of the security outfit suddenly pose as its detractors? Is this a subtle complaint about not being carried along?

The good news though is that the Northwest zone wants to copy what Southwest has just achieved. Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State said so lately while speaking with newsmen. Professor Wole Soyinka, the Nigerian Nobel Laureate is drumming support for Operation Àmọ̀té̩kùn. Constitutional lawyer, Itse Sagay has said that the formation of the Southwest security outfit is legal. An envious Ebonyi State is grumbling that Southwest ‘stole’ its idea of a community security watchdog which is a sign of support. What is more? Vocal youth and cultural organizations are lending their weight behind the Southwest initiative. Such groups include: Arewa Consultative Forum, Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo, Ijaw Youth Congress, Delta and Middle Belt Forums. 

Undoubtedly, Operation Àmọ̀té̩kùn has come at a time when the Federal Government is beginning to address the issue of community policing. The problem is that the speed at which this is being done is like that of a snail which is in commensurate with the lightening speed with which criminals operate in the towns and cities and now in the hinterland. 

Let’s face it. Criminals operate without let or hindrance within the country’s various communities. Pseudo security outfits situated in the communities should be in place to fish them out. Lives and property are bound to be safer with the evolving security rearrangements that may turn out to be a dressed rehearsal for actualization of the idea of State Police. 

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