Confusing state police with community policing – The Guardian

The need to properly and effectively police the nation according to global best practices came to the fore again last week when South-south governors, the Police High Command and other stakeholders held a one-day security summit in Asaba, the Delta State capital.

Fittingly christened ‘‘South-south Nigeria Police Regional Summit’’ with ‘‘Strategic Partnership for Effective Community Policing in the South-south Zone’’ as its theme, the summit concluded that community policing is the best option to secure the Nigerian polity.

In the communique that was released at the end of the summit, Inspector-General of Police Abubakar Adamu who was in attendance and representatives of all governments in the region endorsed community policing as a panacea to increased crime and general insecurity. Welcome as this idea is, we reiterate our position that creating State Police, which is currently hindered by Constitution provisions, is the best option for the nation.

The state of insecurity in the country is unacceptable. It is scary and dangerous. Human lives are routinely violated by rampaging hoodlums despite promises of improvement. Our highways are no longer safe. Kidnapping has become an everyday occurrence in most parts of the country, including the Federal Capital Territory. Ritual killings are reported almost every day.

In the North East, the ruthless and murderous Boko Haram scoundrels have continued to torment innocent citizens. Certainly, we cannot retain old methods in a rapidly changing security situation. The current police command structure, which centralises policing is anachronistic and ought to be jettisoned to save the nation from an implosion. The impunity with which people commit crimes is simply insulting to nationhood. It is perhaps for these reasons that the south-south governors convened a summit to address security challenges in the country.

During the week in question, the skewed nature of the composition of the Police High Command also received critical attention. The appointments of commissioners of police deployed to the 36 states do not reflect the federal character requirement, which is duly enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria. Out of 36 CPs deployed to head the police in the states, the North West has 12, North East has eight CPs, while South East has only one. Abia and 13 other states do not have any CP serving as state police commissioner. This contravenes the federal character principle as enshrined in Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended. Framers of the constitution were averse to one section of the country lording it over the other in terms of federal appointments.

Meanwhile, two intertwining issues arise on policing the nation. The first is the idea of community police. The other has to do with the command structure. Community policing is the way to go. It involves grassroots participation. However, it is not simply by training locals who would be taking orders from a distant IG that the desired results would be achieved. Community policing means leaving internal security matters in the hands of officials who are familiar with and who live in the community. We cannot have proper community police under a CP who reports directly to and takes instructions only from the IG. It is an anomaly. Added to this peculiarity is the situation where though a state governor is referred to as chief security officer, he cannot really give orders to the CP who heads the police in his domain.

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