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Community policing and multi-pronged insecurity

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TO say that the ever-escalating pervasive insecurity all over Nigeria has reached crises point is merely stating the obvious. Nigerians have been suffocating under the maze of “internal contradictions” in the political leadership of the country. The “national question” incorporating the “national contradictions” would have been solved if the recommendations of 2014 National Conference were implemented by the present administration. The apparently insurmountable insecurity conundrum would have been tamed with the multi-level security architecture recommended in the 2014 National Confab recommendations. In federal polity the world over, community policing is within the purview of the federating units.

  Thus the recommendation of the federal government for a community police is a misnomer given that Nigeria is practicing federal system of government. It is the deliberate aberration of the principles of federalism that spurred the myriad of problems in almost all the sectors of governance in the country.

  The National Assembly in apparent grope in the dark has set in motion the process of constitution amendments; and one wonders if the members are ignorant of the far-reaching deliberations of eminent Nigerians in the National Confab and the pragmatic recommendations to reverse the downward trend in the socioeconomic growth and development of the country. In fact, one would say that if sanity still prevails in the country, the process for another constitution amendment should be stopped and the recommendations of the national conference be dusted up from the shelf and implemented. The solution of the ever escalating and multi-pronged insecurity is already there.

 The appeal of the National Assembly and the Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (NCSIA) to President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency on security is totally uncalled for.

Under the federal system of government, there are only two tiers of government viz: the central government and the federating unit called “regional government or state government. There are multi-level police viz: federal police and state police; while community police falls within the prerogative of the federating units. Community police is essentially based in the hinterland; and even in the institutions of higher learning, there is community police.

So why should the federal government suddenly jump into community policing? It is simply to defang the south-west security platform called ‘Amotekun” established to protect their people from the foreign invaders masquerading as herdsmen whom the police under the covert order of the federal, are left to be committing havoc in the name of feeding their cattle. 

  Exposing of the subterfuge of the federal government on community policing, Adekunle Ade Adeleye contended thus: “Many Nigerians see the federal government as meddlesome. The government’s reaction to the South-west’s formation of West Nigerian Security Network [WNSN], codenamed Operation Amotekun, has been viewed in many quarters as disruptive and even outrightly subversive. And so when the federal government began underscoring its resolve to inaugurate its community policing scheme through what it describes as special constables, critics saw the plan as designed to defang Amotekun. Alas, everyone appeared to be mistaken. The constables would not be paid. But Amotekun guards will be paid the national minimum wage”.

  The subtle attempt to run away from restructuring the country’s decrepit system of federalism and the evasion of the National Confab worthwhile recommendations has led the federal government to ridiculously distort the concept of community policing cloaking it with nebulous and quixotic attributes to be tied to its apron string of the Inspector General of Police (IGP). Consequently, the much-hyped community policing will be operating like the grossly inefficient Nigeria Police which turns its eyes whenever crime is traced to the murderous invaders from the Sahel region masquerading as herdsmen.

Hear the Inspector General of Police: “Modern policing requires the deployment of intellect, respect for extant laws, being civil to citizens, knowledge, and sound professional judgment.

  “Community policing is intelligent-driven, intelligent-led and technologically-guided, policing strategies as well as the renewed commitment of personnel to their mandates. It is only when you are close to the people you are protecting that the best results can be achieved. It is indeed in cognizance of this that we are embracing the concept of community policing, which is directed at building strong partnership with the citizens in our drive to attain our mandate”.

  In its incisive editorial denouncing the Inspector General of Police’s brazen distortion of original concept of community policing in his sensitization tour of states on his much-hyped brand of community policing, the PUNCH pointedly averred:   “The present gyrations of the police brass and the federal government are pathetic. In the face of the horrific insecurity in the country, they are also ominous. Rather than move with times, a narrow elite is obdurately bent on preserving the single centralized policing system, pushing back against regional initiatives and the inevitability of state policing.

“Critics see a nexus between the birth of the South-West security initiative,  Amotekun , and the sudden rush for community-policing acrobats as a federal pushback. Without mincing words, the government is responding to calls to decentralize policing with recourse to even more centralization! It is simply further entrenching the central security command system…it is to further micro manage security at the community level. States are better placed in a federation to oversee community policing initiatives.

  “The government version has no future. First, the IGP, Muhammed Adamu, last month, directed state police commissioners to commence the recruitment of special constables, asking them to “liaise with traditional rulers and community leaders” to screen volunteers. The 1999 Constitution establishes state governors as the chief security officers of the states; it also provides for democratically elected local government councils to administer the LGs. The attempt to circumvent elected state and LG officials and empower unelected, hereditary personages is anachronistic. Traditional rulers report to the LGs. As a result, it is absurd to confer such responsibility on unelected and unaccountable authorities.

  “A distant authority cannot bypass LGs to control community leaders. The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari [rtd.], and his security chiefs should stop toying with the lives and security of Nigerians. The centralized policing system has failed disastrously.

  “Delay in effectively decentralizing has tipped the country closer to the precipice. Community policing should be left to the states under a full state policing system. It is absurd for the federal government to get involved in the recruitment, command and control of community policing personnel. As in the US, central government’s contribution to community policing is limited to funding, research, grants and technical assistance to local units. The government should stop the diversionary manoeuvres, provide support to regional security initiatives and urgently lead efforts to amend the constitution to dismantle the central policing system in favour of state policing”.     

  That Nigeria needs multi-level policing as against the federal government’s brand of community policing which is not a public-paying job is suspect because it suddenly came out of the trepidation of multi-level [regional policing] policing epitomized by the south-west “Amotekun” and northern “Shege ka fasa”; these are in line with the 1999 Constitution irrespective of the twisting by those who have a supposedly covert agenda from the monstrosities and criminalities of the murderous Fulani herdsmen.

  A Sunday Sun columnist, Ralph Egbu, condemning the floating of a brand of community policing to assuage the covert yearning of a section of  the country who are not comfortable with multi-level security platform which remains antidote to the vicious exploits of what Femi Fani-Kayode described as “the local Janjaweed  known as the Fulani herdsmen and murderous terrorist militia”; and the unrelenting Islamic fundamentalist, Boko Haram being subtly pampered said: “We are talking of restructuring and the north is refusing, yet leaders from that part of the country visit countries abroad and see that security infrastructure is in layers. There is state police, township police and community police; each of them with independence in terms of operational commands.

  Big entities like universities, banks and big businesses have armed private guards who provide efficient security for these entities. In our case, we are disarming the citizens and insisting that a nation as large as ours should run a one police system. It wouldn’t work. We are talking about community policing to recruit men and women into what is called “constabulary police”, voluntary security personnel unarmed, under a central command; it wouldn’t work. We need independent command system. Foreigners are flooding into other parts of Nigeria including rural areas; it is time we began to know who they are and the reason behind the heavy mobility. We will have security once there is sincerity of purpose”.

  Ropo Sekoni, writing in The Nation Sunday condemning the federal government’s brand of community policing traced the ready resort to centralization of everything to the centralist mindset of the military jackboot and contended thus: “Successions of military command rulers re-designed Nigeria in the image of military command system.

They smashed the balance between national and sub-national governments that was the core of the federal constitutions of 1960 and 1963. Believing that centralism model after military system of giving orders to subordinates would produce guaranteed unity of the country, military rulers made law enforcement and security of lives and property an exclusive function of the central government. But now the assumption about how to create a united country through centralism has not washed and the president should know this. The popular saying across town is “how did things get this bad for Nigeria.

  “The theory of military rulers that centralisation of governance is needed to unify a diverse society has lost its relevance, if the Nigerian condition 20 years into post-military era illustrates anything…For this, the colonial government recommended a federal system that shared power and sovereignty between national and sub-national governments. No area requires freedom of parts of a federation to govern themselves more than protecting lives and property, the main purpose of modern democratic governance.

  “The conclusion to this series is to urge federal legislators not to just add “community policing” but to also reflect the change[s] in the architecture of law enforcement in the federation along the line of best practices in other federations’ multilevel police system. Neither Amotekun as constituted and Nigeria Police now to be impregnated with community policing function is likely to serve the security needs of a culturally diverse country of 200 milion people”.

  Any public policy analyst or ethno-religious groups who fail to locate the source and spring of security quagmire the country has found itself to the deliberate truncation of the sacred, sacrosanct, and inexorable principles of federalism, should have his head examined by competent psychiatric personnel.

  There is no gainsaying the fact the political science bears the characteristics of a science because the inputs and outcomes have to do with researches, data and accuracy in the computations. To this end therefore, conscious , deliberate, mischievous and brazen violation of the clearly enunciated principles would lead to unimaginable disasters which place the society on the road to stony Golgotha. Nigeria is heading towards a failed state status due to the woeful failure of the leadership to come to grips with the fundamental and basic responsibility of governance taken for granted the world over which is effective and efficient security architecture.

  The source and spring of this lamentable failure is a section of her populace who out of devious scheming based on an uncanny religious agenda captured the levers of power since the country’s attainment of political sovereignty through the brazen electoral malfeasance. The craze which snowballed into socio-political upheaval and on the ruinous trajectory to a 30-month devastating and fratricidal civil war, has not shown any sign of abatement.

The same trajectory led to seizure of power by the military jackboots noted for never passing through the crucible of the art and craft of civil governance. Acting through them, the principles of federalism which were cherished in the first republic federal system of government were dumped into the scrap heap of history and in its stead, a contraption backed with the notorious 1999 Constitution with its defining mantra of “federal-unitary” arrangement.

 In the first republic, federal arrangement obviously germane for a multi-ethnic and multi-religious conglomerates, the federating units viz: Eastern, Western, Northern, and Mid-Western regional governments operated efficient and effective security templates which conduced to socio-economic and political activities.

  It was the vaulting and vaunting ambition of the very section of the country that sowed the virulent seed that destroyed the elaborate security architecture. The rest, according to common saying, is history.

  There would have been no groping in the dark by the federal government for an effective solution to the challenges of gross insecurity in the length and breadth of the country if the federating units had been allowed to float security platforms as practiced in a federal setting. Constitutional government the world over is guided by established laws and infractions attract sanctions to restore sanity in the society.

  The unconventional practice of centralising security infrastructure by the military regimes in line with its central command structure has literally ruined the development of the country because development never thrived in an atmosphere of pervasive insecurity.

  Nigeria Police Force has been a behemoth in character and practice. This is because of the management law which prescribes that over-centralization breeds inefficiency. If constitutional democracy which thrives on rule of law is practiced in the country, there would be no cause to say that governors would abuse state police. An Igbo saying has it that “no killer would like to see somebody going behind him with a knife”; that is why the federal government [and its unconscionable apologists] which grossly abuse Nigeria Police Force would quickly say that governors would abuse state police. Ordinarily, the president should not be responsible for the appointment of the head of Nigeria Police, Inspector General of Police [IGP] because of the natural inclination of the head of the cops to obey the president without question irrespective of the rule of law and human rights.

  To say that the overall fortunes of the country is spiraling on a tailspin cascading down to a precipice and ultimate disintegration on accounts of the intractable insecurity ravaging the entire country, is merely echoing the already known truth. The auguries are scary and unimaginable because the powers-that-be consciously failed to nip the disaster in the bud.   The pragmatic and time-tested remedies are there but the holders of the levers of power in their blinding quest for an illusionary ethno-religious dominance,

[some perceived it futile and foolish quest for “Islamization and Fulanization
of Nigeria”]

refused to apply it.

  The solution to effective security cannot be located to the supposed community policing which has been hyped to high heavens. Community Policing has become a way of running away from state police otherwise known as “decentralized security infrastructure” as obtained in countries that practice federalism.

Obviously irked by the abysmal failure of the federal government to come to grips with the ever escalating security lapses and solution conundrum the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, apparently threw caution in the wind expressing utter frustration on the nation-wide lamentations of the massive blood-flowing in all parts of the country as if the country is under a terrible siege of ferocious foreign invaders baying for blood of Nigerians.

  The duo pointedly said that the current template for security has fallen short of expectations and called for new template for security in the country. In an action to demonstrate their seriousness of the raging inferno, the duo sought audience with the president to find a new measure to stem the tide of blood flow which has exposed the country to international odium and ridicule.  To the utter consternation of Nigerians, the heads of the national legislature came from Aso Rock and began to sing a different tune, depicting that the president has become a somewhat “philosopher king”, who knows everything that is good for Nigerians.

  The unexpected volte-face threw Nigerians off balance in their utter condemnation of the heads of the National Assembly.

In his analytical masterpiece, The Nation Sunday columnist, Idowu Akinlotan contended as follows: “Shortly before they met President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President Ahmed Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajamiala had spoken publicly about what the president was  doing in combating insecurity. In their widely quoted speeches, the excitable legislative leaders aggregated the tough and fiery rhetoric of lawmakers who described Nigeria’s security system as ineffective while also calling on the president to sack his service chiefs.

  The media even summed up Sen. Lawan’s position as locating Nigeria at a ‘tipping point’. The legislative leaders’ epiphany on both insecurity and the complacency of security chiefs surprised many people…Emerging from the meeting, not only did the parliamentary leaders begin to hem and haw, they incredibly almost turned full circle, rationalising and defending the president’s nebulous approach and the service chiefs’ jaded panaceas. For a massive and increasingly complex security problem that needed new paradigms and philosophies, if not altogether new political structures, parliamentary leaders began mouthing the usual and indefensible approach of throwing money at problems”.

  Other equally concerned Nigerians were extremely exasperated and wrung their hands since they had expected that this time, the president would heed the clarion calls to re-jig the service commanders to get fresh hands that would explore new grounds to face the ravenous insurgents and the marauding herdsmen allegedly trooping from the Sahel Region to make life hell on earth for Nigerians.

  Not done yet in his utter exasperation on the tepid approach to the spilling of human blood by the Islamic terrorists and murderous herdsmen without venturing for an effective multi-level security platforms as obtained in federal polities the world over, Akinlotan continued: “After five years in office, and with the security crises spiraling out of control, which the President even seems perplexed to explain, it is strange that presidency officials do not see the problem as calling for a thorough rethink of the dynamics at play, a rethink of strategy and personnel, and a comprehensive reordering of priorities.

  “Bandits, kidnappers, rustlers and herdsmen promoting ethnic cleansing measures do not suddenly get up and go rogue. There must be underlying factors. The presidency has not shown that its senior appointees understand the underlying issues, nor has it convinced the country if it can link those issues with the insecurity that is manifesting and worsening.  But whether the president understands these issues or not, especially given the way he has expressed surprise, he must understand that it is not the opposition or unknown political forces that are undermining his government.

  “The factors leading to widespread insecurity began a long time ago, and years of miscomprehension of the problems coupled with a pigheaded and self-righteous approach to solving it are making it intractable and producing a class of criminals who have nothing to lose, not even their lives.

  “The National Assembly has not helped matters by failing to stand firm and be combative over worsening insecurity. When they debated the matter, they mirrored popular sentiment, and courageously came out with sensible and feasible resolutions. The president has also not helped matters by viewing criticisms and antagonism to some of his policies and appointments as either an affront to his office or a national security challenge.

  Admonishing the president to reflect on the imperative of running a country in an inclusive template the cerebral columnist concluded as follows: “if the president does not climb down from his high horse, if he does not abandon his controversial policies that have clearly failed to work, and if he does not find good sense to re-jig his security team, the situation may deteriorate to a point where he will begin to toy with either declaration of emergency or emergency rule. Once he gets to that slippery slope, there will be no turning back. Not only will the problem worsen, especially with abuses counted and painted in ethnic and religious colours, he will also find that the problems exacerbating insecurity have been left severely unattended to”.         

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