Opinion: Kogi State Government vs Community Policing

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It has come to my notice that the government of Kogi State of Nigeria under the leadership of His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Bello has purchased a total of 260 motorcycles and 10 Ford Trucks as operational logistics to support the activities of Col. Hassan Aliyu-led Kogi State Vigilante Service.

This guesture according to the Security Adviser and spokesman at the event Navy Commander Jerry Omadara rtd, it is meant to demonstrate the  commitment of the STATE GOVERNMENT to provide security and community safety to the good people of the State.

In this light, the government was categorical in his resolve to put the state on the pedestal of community policing as a strategy in security in  the confluence region of north central Nigeria.

On this note, I would like to thank and congratulate His Excellency for this feat having previously gained the IG award for his positive proclivity in the security sector of the state economy. At least some reasonable steps have been taken at this level.

Community policing has no doubt become the bride of  those governments and stakeholders who seek for genuine sense of safety to their people worldwide. As a citizen of the state that proclaims the adoption of community policing, I feel partly fulfilled on the premises that my area of research and professional interest has gained celebration at the home front in Nigeria.

I have conducted a research on community policing that has won ‘High praise’ in Britain. I have been privileged to be on the team of world-class academics and professionals providing cutting-edge training to a range of security operatives such as Singapore police in the UK.

In view of this, seeing my root being bereft of frantic effort to ensure successful outing in this regard could be annoying. This concerns have become palpable in view of life-threatening security situation in Nigeria and Kogi State in particular.

However, there are contending issues at stake that needed to be addressed if this policy directions must be given desired seriousness.  Notably, on the premises of the need to ensure robust relationship between the police and the public to achieve security and safety conditions in the country, there was in 2003/2004 a UK-DEPARTMENT for International Development’s funded  community policing initiative run in conjunction with the Security Justice and Growth in Nigeria.  Empirical evidence indicated that this laudable programme was not successful. This is because there is wide communication gap between the police and the public given the Trust issues in vogue.

In as much as this forum does not create enough room for me to put everything in perspective, I want to say that similar Vigilante structure has been put in place previously in other places in Nigeria and Africa without desired results. To say the least, contrary to widespread beliefs in many quarters, community policing is not the same thing as Vigilante institutions. Some of these structures are recruited mostly from people of questionable backgrounds and in most cases meant to serve as thugs for political and other  pecuniary motives.

Governor Yahaya Bello would need to demonstrate that this is not the case. Vigilante groups should not be seen as parallel paramilitary organisation but must work collaboratively with the conventional state police for maximum output. Some of the underlying policies of Governor Yahaya Bello government has not addressed fundamental issues of concern that would create enabling conditions for the culture and ideology of community policing to flourish.

What has been done to alleviate poverty in his  domain? Hunger is everywhere.

What has happened positively to education in the state? Kogi State is leading in the area of industrial actions by workers.

What has been done to workers salary? The only point of defence is to tell the people on media of the difference between twelve and fifteen months arrears of unpaied salaries.

What has been done to human rights aspects since the government seemed to be uncomfortable with dissenting voices? The fear of the Governor is the beginning of wisdom in the State.

What are the short and long term training packages on ground for the Vigilante groups, the police and other notable security operatives? There are good evidences to suggest that an average member of the police personnel in Nigeria does not know rudiments of community policing.

The members of the public also need training components to really engender the philosophy of community policing in Kogi state within the wide spectrum of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Taking the right steps in this direction at the right time may go along way to restore the confidence of the people in the government of Kogi State of Nigeria.

– Dr Aminu Musa Audu is an expert in community policing and security based in the UK  and a member of the Board of Trustees of the British Sociological Association.

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