Can regional security outfits solve insecurity challenges in Nigeria?

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Mohammed Adamu
Mohammed Adamu

There is no doubt that the worsening security situation in the country has necessitated the establishment and adoption of regional security outfits to secure the lives and property of Nigerians. Perhaps, this initiative should be taken a step further by restructuring the country and returning Nigeria to a true federal structure, which has been the yearning of many Nigerians

By Anayo Ezugwu

THE governors of the southwestern region and the Inspector General of Police, IG, Mohammed Adamu, adopted Operation Amotekun at their meeting on Thursday, February 13, 2020.  They also ratified the community policing model proposed by the federal government, saying that the initiative would be complementing Operation Amotekun and the conventional police operations in all local communities.

Speaking at the end of South-West security meeting on community policing in Lagos, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State and chairman, South West Governors Forum, said it was time to deploy community policing because of the peculiarity of every state as being practiced in some advanced countries.

“The governors of South-West and the IGP have held a very fruitful discussion and it is clear now to all of us that community policing, which the Nigeria Police is anchoring, is one that will benefit all of us. We have chosen that we will embrace community policing in its entirety,” he said.

To substantiate what Akeredolu’s claim, Adamu said: “This is the second meeting we have held with the governors of the South-West region concerning the creation of Operation Amotekun.

The just-concluded meeting was to discuss and fine-tune Amotekun. Our conclusion is what the chairman of South-West Governors’ Forum has explained. “The police would be part of the recruitment, training and deployment of personnel to be assigned for Amotekun operations. The initiative would complement the community policing model.”

Apart from the southwest, northern groups have also unveiled a regional security outfit, Operation Shege Ka Fasa in Kaduna to tackle kidnapping and banditry in the zone. The Coalition of Northern Group, CNG, said they had written to the Northern States Governors Forum to support the group. Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, spokesman of the group, said if the northern governors and leaders from the region fail to give the necessary support, the CNG would obtain the required legal backing for the outfit from the relevant federal authorities.

“The outfit is designed to be the vanguard of the entire north, encompassing every ethnic group and religion and would be patriotic in its operations in addition to performing general complimentary tasks for enhancing security in the region. We wish to draw attention that it is absolutely impossible to expect that communities would continue to fold their arms while criminals invade their abodes, kill, abduct and displace them,” he said.

Likewise, the South-East governors are also contemplating establishing a security outfit for the region. But the governors and Ohanaeze Ndigbo are presently at loggerhead on whether to adopt the federal government’s community policing or formulate regional security outfit. While the governors chose to go along with community policing, Ohanaeze Ndigbo insisted on the formation of a regional security outfit to be known as Ogbunigwe.

Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State and chairman, Southeast Governors’ Forum, said they were satisfied with the strategies for the implementation of the community policing programme in the zone. “We reached a satisfactory and acceptable decision and agreement. The IGP’s presentation was not different from our neighbourhood watch, our vigilante operation and forests guard, the herdsmen and farmers peace community among others. When we saw that this is totally in tandem with what we are doing, we decided as your governors to embrace the initiative of community policing,” he said at the end of South-East Security Summit in Enugu.

But Nnia Nwodo, president general, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, called on the federal government to allow the South-East to establish their own security to take care of their challenges and peculiarities. “Mr. IGP, our farms have been devastated and the herders that devastated our farms carry AK-47 rifles. You cannot be talking about community policing when the people you want to supervise, you do not understand their language.

“Your legal architecture doesn’t take into consideration that our governors, by the constitution, are the chief security officers of their various states and this gives them the responsibility to protect the lives and property of their citizens. So when you begin to talk about recruitment, with the commander and control, and you do not share with the governors and representatives at the local areas this command and control and recruitment, this exercise is dead on arrival,” he said.

With Ohanaeze Ndigbo mobilizing supporters to protest against the decision of the governors to jettison the idea of regional security outfit, it is also likely that the South-South will soon unveil its own version of a regional security outfit. But the question many Nigerians are asking is will regional or community policing solve security challenges facing the country?

Only time will tell if these arrangements will bring the desired peace in Nigeria. But in the last 10 years, there has been steady rise in criminal activities across the country. From Boko Haram to banditry, kidnappers, Fulani herdsmen, cultism, ritual killings and armed robbery, the list is endless.

There is a common consensus among Nigerians that the current security situation in the country is deplorable. The level of insecurity and anxiety are worse than what obtained during the era of President Goodluck Jonathan. President Muhammadu Buhari’s led government has shown apparent like of capacity or rather unwillingness to tackle the security challenges facing the nation despite the billions of tax payers’ funds that are appropriated annually.

From all fronts, Nigerians live in perpetual fear of attack. Human life is worth nothing in Nigeria. The land is polluted with blood of the innocent. Boko Haram appeared to be more rejuvenated. There have been claims and counterclaims of the defeat of Boko Haram, which this administration had promised to vanquish within six months of coming to power, but it appears that the insurgency group is stronger than they were five years earlier.

The situation has necessitated the strident calls by notable Nigerians for the decentralisation of policing. Following the escalation of crimes in the country in recent times, many Nigerians have made case for the establishment of state or community policing across the country. Most Nigerians believe that the centralised policing system has not been able to check escalating insecurity. They believe also that a regional and community approach to securing the country is what Nigeria needs at this point in time.

It is believed in many quarters that the formation of regional security outfits is necessary and Expedient, considering the daunting security challenges facing the country at present. This school of thought claimed that regional security outfits would among other things entail curtailing the menace of herdsmen and armed banditry that have turned Nigeria into a terrorist nation.

To make the matter worse, the Nigeria Police Force, with about 371,800 personnel, have not been able to weather the storm. All plans to increase the numerical strength of the force to 650,000 have not been successful. But the IGP believes that community policing will close the manpower gap in the force and engender security of lives and properties.

The federal government through Adamu has ordered for the commencement of the nationwide recruitment of 40,000 Community Policing Officers, CPOs, from the 774 local government areas. Not less than 50 CPOs will be recruited from each local government area. Those to be recruited must be between the ages of 21 and 50.

According to some security experts, for community policing to work, the regional security outfits recently unveiled in the country and others yet to take off should be part of it. For instance, in different parts of Nigeria, local vigilante groups are assisting the police in crime control. These groups, including Hisbah, and the newly floated Amotekun, should be fully integrated into the scheme.

Olaide Oyewole, an analyst, urged the federal government to support the governors in their bid to secure the states and regions. “There is no crime in trying to protect one’s territory from internal and external dangers. Over the years, every region has been a victim of attacks by different terrorist groups. “Setting up security outfits in the different regions of the country show that the regional leaders and governors are sensitive to the security situation in the country,” he said.

On his part, Jude Oseh, youth advocate, said: “In as much as different regions are tired of relying on the federal government for protection, the decision to start creating regional security outfits needs to be defined. “We cannot keep defying the rules and expect stability. Policing is not the exclusive responsibility of the FG by virtue of section 153 subsection 216 of our constitution.”

– Feb. 14, 2020 @ 18:59 GMT |

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