States to the rescue – The Nation

  • Resolve to use forest guards, drones to fight herdsmen banditry

Many states, including Anambra, Benue, Ebonyi, Enugu, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, and Kaduna have indicated active interest in deploying drones to fight all forms of banditry. In addition, states in the Southeast have agreed to hire not less than 1,700 ‘Forest Guards’ and install CCTV at strategic points in the region, as well as clear bushes around highways up to 50 metres, inside, to improve visibility for motorists in areas with thick and deciduous forests.

In all, there are three strategies on the plate of states to fight crimes, ranging from kidnapping, armed robbery and other life-denying forms of banditry in rural areas of many states perceived by many governors as victims of a failed or failing security system. For effectiveness, each of the states ought to adopt all the strategies to deploy technology and community members to assist in intelligence gathering that can prevent crime and identify criminals before they become too dangerous to unarmed citizens. In other words, states that have put emphasis on establishment of forest vigilantes and those who put emphasis on use of technology should share strategies to fight criminality in the forest of states and along inter-state roads.

Undoubtedly, that states need to resort to new measures to defend their rural communities is an indication that the existing security architecture in the country has failed to protect citizens and their property as demanded by the country’s constitution. While failure of existing federally controlled law enforcement and security maintaining agencies may be seen by many as incidental, we consider the festering of insecurity in many parts of the country in the last few years as a symptom of flawed philosophy of securing a large federation of diverse cultures.

It is, however, reassuring that many states have accepted the inevitability of multiple systems of maintaining law and public order that can create space for subnational governments to design security architecture to meet their special needs in the various cultural zones.  It is also remarkable that states are calling for an integrated police system that will allow for synergy between national and subnational policing. State and community policing systems that are popular in other parts of the world are good models for Nigeria to consider as it looks for better ways of securing citizens and their property.

Furthermore, the rhetoric about the imperative of multi-layered policing is at present justifiably high. But states must be prepared to move the rhetoric to policy and implementation levels in good time. Hiring forest guards is doable and should not take inordinate time to achieve. States with forests in the country used to have forest guards to prevent deforestation. Such template can be enlarged to protect the lives and property of citizens in the forest areas, and those who understand the nuances of the specific communities should be hired and trained before the current insecurity problem gets worse.

On the side of the central government, red tapes ought to be removed for states wishing to obtain license or approval to import and use drones and other technological devices to protect the roads and forests. Similarly, the central government should provide leadership for the use of technology to fight crime by providing state-of-the-art anti-crime technologies to federal security agencies that can collaborate with states to rid the country of crimes.

We encourage states to use local farmers, hunters, fishermen, and local  people in other occupations  to participate in  joint  civilian task forces, through efficient intelligence gathering, to prevent and combat criminality in the land, just as the country has been doing in the last few years.

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