Amidst worsening crime rate and insecurity nationwide, the federal and state governments as well as the police authorities have intensified the implementation of community policing in rural areas across the country.
While the police have appointed community police officers in each of the 36 states of the federation and the 774 local government areas to ensure smooth implementation, the states have intensified the screening, recruitment, training and acquisition of critical tools for potential officers.
The training of the local security personnel is being done by the states in collaboration with the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).
LEADERSHIP Friday gathered that in some states, community policing has fully taken off with participants set for the training that will aid their operations.
In Benue State for instance, the Security Council has approved the recruitment of 2,300 personnel for community policing and 460 Community Volunteer Guards, also known as vigilantes, to complement the efforts of conventional security agencies.
Governor Samuel Ortom during an interview said the decision to embrace community policing was in line with the resolution reached at the North Central Security meeting held in Lafia, Nasarawa State in January this year at the instance of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu.
He said 100 community policing personnel would be recruited from each local government area alongside 20 community volunteer guards, adding that both the community policing personnel and those of the volunteer guards would help the police in intelligence gathering against crime.
He said, “As stipulated in the law, activities of the volunteer guards would be supervised by the permanent secretary, Bureau of Internal Affairs, while the council chairmen and district heads would coordinate same at the local government headquarters and ward levels respectively.”
Similarly, all is set to send over 800 youths that were recruited for community policing in Taraba State for police training at the Police Training College, Jaaji.
A member of the Taraba State Community Policing Committee and former chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the state, Mallam Abdulahi Gembo, disclosed this to LEADERSHIP Friday in Jalingo, the state capital.
Gembo said the state government recently constituted a 13-man standing committee to organise and screen youths that would be sent to the police for proper training in professional community policing.
He noted that the process of the selection had commenced and those who pass the screening would be presented to the IGP for onward training in the first week of December 2020.
Gembo said the state government had taken community policing very serious since it had been discovered that the scheme would tackle communal conflicts and promote peace among people of the state.
In Kwara State, community policing took off since August 25, 2020 when Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq inaugurated the Community Policing Advisory Council (CPAC) in Ilorin, the state capital.
The spokesman of Kwara State police command, DSP Ajayi Okasanmi, confirmed that the participants would soon undergo training that would aid their operations, adding that the training exercise is being done in batches.
“Some states have had their turn, it will soon be the turn of Kwara and other states that have not had their trainings,” he said.
Okasanmi said both Governor AbdulRazaq and the state Commissioner of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, were committed to the idea of community policing and its success in the state.
“Community policing focuses more on using intelligence and constant interactions with community folks to prevent crimes. However, what this means is that the success of this idea lies in everybody seeing security as our collective business,” AbdulRazaq noted at the inauguration of the committee in Ilorin.
The State Advisory Committee comprises the head of the state’s traditional council (chairman); the police commissioner (co-chairman); heads of the various security agencies in the states; heads of police community relations committees; representatives of each senatorial district; and a representative each of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
The Delta State government has also expressed optimism that the state’s security outfit, “Operation Delta Hawk”, would commence operation before the 2020 Yuletide.
Governor Okowa, who made this known at a meeting with traditional rulers and religious leaders at Government House, Asaba, said necessary equipment to make the outfit operational had been procured.
He explained that the process of establishing the security outfit took a while because he wanted to ensure that everything was in place, adding that the outfit would tackle kidnapping and other violent crimes, including farmers-herders clashes.
“We set up the ‘Operation Delta Hawk’ which we are hopeful will be operationalised before Christmas. The team has already been selected and trained and we have been able to get men on ground to participate.
“For them to be able to undertake such programmes, they need body armour and vests which we have gotten recently. We are in the process of concluding the installation of the communication equipment, the mast is already being provided and by the time we are able to complete the communication equipment installation, then we can truly start.
“The ‘Operation Delta Hawk’ team will work closely work with vigilante groups across the wards and communities and will help to tackle issues relating to kidnapping, farmers-herders clash and violent crimes,” he said.
In Rivers State, it was gathered that community policing came into effect in May 2020, following the launch of the State Community Policing Advisory Committee (SCPAC) and the inauguration of State Community Policing Committee (SCPC) by Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.
SCPAC has 17 members while SCPC has nine members with the chairman of the state traditional rulers’ council, King Dandeson Douglas Jaja, as chairman.
According to the Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mukan, special constables are currently being recruited as recommended by the Police Force Order 291 on community policing.
He stated: “The order empowers the police at all levels to engage in active partnership with law-abiding citizens and government agencies, among others.
“It allows the police to collectively and collaboratively solve problems of crime, reduce the fear of crime and ensure the safety of communities. Deriving its powers from the order, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, thought it expedient and pertinent to work out modalities for a seamless approach”.
Meanwhile, the Imo State government, working in tandem with the directive of the federal government, has inaugurated the Community Policing/Advisory Committee with a charge to members to ensure that they work hard to fish out criminals.
Governor Hope Uzodimma used the opportunity of the programme to inform that the federal government, through the Presidency, had approved such inauguration all over the country. He explained that the sole aim was to ensure peaceful co-existence of indigenes and non-indigenes, ethnic groups and tribes in communities all over the federation.
The governor emphasized that the committee is not an alternative to security agencies like the police or the army, rather the outfit would partner with them to ensure that communities are properly secured, hence making their job easy.
Uzodimma added that the committee is to work to ensure that people live together in love and peace and to expose criminals, reduce acrimony among Nigerians in the state and ensure peaceful co-existence, noting that they should work hard to identify all social vices and deal with them according to the law.
He charged the commissioner of police to work out modalities for the creation of the zonal, local government and community prototype of the committee, promising to give them all necessary assistance that would enable them succeed.
Speaking after the inauguration, the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Celestine Okoye, said community policing had been there from the beginning, especially in Igboland where the age grade system was deployed to secure the villages in the past. He commended the governor for the bold step of constituting and inaugurating the committee, describing him as a “very security-friendly governor.”
However, as states march towards the implementation, the major challenge has been funding in some areas, LEADERSHIP Friday gathered.
The Anambra State government complained that funding has been its major constraint since the take-off of community policing initiative in the state.
The state Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. C-Don Adinuba, who confirmed to LEADERSHIP Friday that community policing had already taken off in the 179 communities in the state, said a vigilante group was established in each community to provide direct security in the area, and function as an intelligence gathering outfit.
In addition to the funding problem, Adinuba stated that supremacy battles with traditional rulers in most of the communities is another problem hindering smooth operation of community policing in the state.
He stated that the state law establishing vigilante groups in a every community in the state places the management responsibility on the traditional ruler of the community, but lamented that because of the despotic instinct of some of the traditional rulers who rather set the vigilante operatives after their perceived enemies, the arrangement had become a source conflict in the affected areas.
Adinuba said, “Funds to purchase operational vehicles for the vigilante groups in the communities is now a major problem for the state government.
“The operational vehicles the government earlier purchased for the vigilante groups have all worn out, and they need to be replaced and this costs a lot of money. You know that some of the traditional rulers are recalcitrant and despotic, so such traditional rulers are clashing with the presidents-general of the communities.
“The state law establishing the vigilante group confers on the traditional ruler of the community the power to manage the vigilante group in his domain. And, in some cases, you find out that some of them deploy the vigilante members to hunt their enemies or those who are opposed to them”.
It would be recalled that the IGP during a Strategic Police Managers Meeting in Abuja, noted that recent incidents of armed banditry, kidnapping and armed robbery, especially in Kaduna, Niger, Kogi, Katsina and Zamfara states had prompted full and speedy roll-out of the community policing strategy across the country.
“Accordingly, as conceptualised, formulated and approved by the government, the current effort will be citizen-centered and driven by members of each community,” he said.
Adamu added that the plan would involve the setting up of Community Policing Committees (CPCs) at the ward, local government and state levels including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The committees are to identify credible and suitable citizens from across each locality for appointment as special constables who will serve as community policing officers.
“The committees are also expected to identify the security challenges peculiar to their communities and partner with the local police in formulating plans that would mitigate the challenges. The community policing officers are to deal with and resolve low-level security issues without necessarily resorting to police stations unless the issue is of serious legal and security consequences and require police intervention. The idea is to improve the capacity of communities to develop solutions to local security problems working closely with the local police,” he said.
The IGP said when community policing becomes fully operational, citizens would be in control of their security with the guidance of the police and the community policing committees, while the Nigeria
Police would concentrate on the management of violent and other highly organized crimes with a view to pro-actively responding to them in a manner that engenders public confidence, trust, and public satisfaction in police service delivery.
The IGP however noted that the success of the community policing initiative in Nigeria, like in other policing climes, depends largely on the extent to which strategic police managers, particularly, state commissioners of police, area commanders and divisional police officers understand its concept and practice.
FG To Redeploy 9,694 Constables To Villages
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Police Affairs has revealed that about 9,694 pioneer special constables who graduated for the community policing programme are already being deployed.
The acting director/head, Press and Public Relations Unit, Odutayo Oluseyi, stated that the constables were ready to be deployed to their various communities to bring police activities closer to the people.
He explained that they recently graduated from 13 training centres across the country.
According to him, they were trained in basic police duties, concepts of the rule of law, police-community relations, intelligence gathering, neighborhood policing, basic knowledge of human rights and consequence of abuse of office in a democratic setting, among others.
Also, while speaking at the passing out parade for the pioneer set from Zamfara State at the Police College, Kaduna, the Minister of Police Affairs, Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi, said, “What we are witnessing today forms the nucleus of the community policing initiative and the reform agenda of Mr President.
“Community policing in Nigeria is one of the dynamic innovations aimed at bringing policing closer to the people through their participation to effectively curb crime and criminality.
“The knowledge they (constables) have acquired on the need for respect of human rights in a democratic setting will be of immense benefits in the discharge of their duties to forestall such infractions which led to the recent #EndSARS protests in the country.”
How New System Can Work Better – Security Experts
Meanwhile, security experts have urged the government to embrace community policing, saying the initiative would make policing effective in the country.
Speaking on how the state can make policing effective, the National President of the Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria (AISSON), Dr Ona Ehkomu, said lack of adequate resourcing is a big drawback to effective policing in the country.
He said with the Police Trust Fund and the new police bill, things are bound to get better.
According to him, from a strategic management perspective, police executives must find administrative, programmatic and technological means to achieve more with less.
“I urge police executives to build trust between the agency and the community that it serves. The community will see self interest in effective policing and support the police. The political pressure that will bring about improvements in police remunerations and conditions of service will come from the communities,” he said.
He noted that politicians would not give the police what it deserves, but what it lobbies for, saying the community holds the key to effectively speaking out for the police.
He said, “The ontology of policing, the epistemology of policing and the methodology of policing have to be subjected to dissection, visualization and empirical examination in order to create new models of effective policing. Better level of knowledge tools will be brought to the table to assist the police agency.
“I also urge the various police community relations committees nationwide to lend the police a shoulder to lean on in these tough times.
“The PCRC as a natural ally of the police agency must speak up and speak out now that the morale is low in the agency. We all need the police and they need us”.
He also noted that the individual police man must engage in self-talk that would encourage him to get back to work.
He noted: “The safety net that is provided by the police is torn right now. It will take the courage, commitment, dedication, patriotism, professionalism, perseverance and ingenuity of police men and women, police supervisors, police managers and other police officials to enable the healing that is required.’’
Also commenting on the issue, the Assistant Commander General (ACG) in charge of the Community Policing Vigilante Group of Nigeria (VGN) and member, American Chartered Institute of Security, Dr Immauel Ayisire, said there are two methods of policing which are the traditional policing method and the community policing method.
His words: “The traditional policing method by the nature of its operation and structure, they are not very good in prevention of crime because in most cases the structure, the Nigerian police for example, the Nigeria Police Force is a federal police force, and it covers all the states of the federation.
“From the onset, when you look probably at recruitment, recruitment may not have followed a particular format in terms of coverage of local government awards that is why you see that policemen have been posted from their communities to outside their communities to function as a police officer, and in most cases they have very short time duration. That is the system the Nigeria Police Force has been operating.”
He noted that it is true that when they started it, it was to create a kind of professionalism and impartiality, thinking that by the time you post those people out of their domains that would make them to be more professional, “and in modern policing today that has become a draw back because as a police officer you are supposed to understand your duties and obligations very well to equalise with the community, so that you will be able to enjoy the trust and confidence of community members.”