By Emeka Oraetoka
What Federal Government probably failed to understand in the agitation for State Governments-led Community policing is that the Governors are not interested in controlling the Police to fight conventional insecurity; rather, they want to control the Police for Election and other political purposes and nothing more. It is obvious that Nigeria is currently grappling with politically induced Insecurity. If FG doubts this viewpoint, it should agree to the agitation for State Police, but with a caveat that the Federal Police will oversee the conduct of Elections in Nigeria, including Town Union Elections- Anonymous
Fundamentally, the Nigeria Policing system is administratively Federal in nature, that is; the Inspector General of Police (IGP) is the highest authority in administrative decision making process only. The IGP or the Commissioner of Police (CP) does not interfere in the Operational activity of Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) in any State. The question I have been asking those agitating for State Police without answer is; does the IGP interfere or controls the operational activities of the Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) across the country? It is safe to say that Nigeria Policing, though, administratively Federal, is Operationally Community based in nature. When Governors complain that they are Chief Security Officers on paper, that in reality, they cannot give order to their Commissioners’ of Police, I wonder the kind of order(s) they are talking about. The order they are probably talking about, is at best, partisan and election related in nature. At least, no Governor had complained in the past that he gave a Commissioner of Police in his State, an order to apprehend criminal(s) and it was disobeyed.
Now, what is Community Policing? To me, the concept of Community Policing has so much to do with the operational structure, notwithstanding whether it is within the context of Federal or State Policing. Fundamentally, the Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) under Federal Policing ensure security at the Community levels in Nigeria. On the other hand, Commissioners’ of Police in the thirty six states and FCT, coordinate the operational activities of the DPOs. A Commissioner of Police is at best, the public relation officer of the Police in a State. The IGP on the other hand, is Federal public relation officer. He, too, coordinates the activities of the States’ Commissioners.
What the proponents of State based Community Policing have not defined to my satisfaction till now, is what “Community” means in the context of Community Policing in Nigeria? According to an offline English dictionary, it defines Community as a group of people living in a particular local area. Another offline dictionary defines it as a group of people having ethnic or cultural or religious characteristics in common. Based on these definitions, how can we practice States-led Community Policing in a multiethnic State like Kogi, Adamawa, Plateau and Rivers States, just to mention but a few? Do we, for instance, handover Police control to Igala, Okun, Okene Communities? The same goes for Rivers, Plateau and other multiethnic States. Will each and every ethnic group in these States be having their own Community Police structure? If it is even decided that Local Government Areas within a given State are to be designated as Communities; will the DPOs within each LGA be reporting to the Chairman of LGA operationally? How do we come to agree on what should constitute a Community in Nigeria, for the purpose of legislation for States-led Community Policing?
Yes, Community Policing within the context of State Policing could work in South East and South West because of ethnic or cultural affinity, but it will still end up as regional Policing. Now, if two regions out of six go into Community Policing, what happens to the remaining four regions? The fact is States-led Community Policing will amount to a moving anarchy in Nigeria. But the protagonists of this variant of Community Policing, will argue that Britain and the US are good example of States based Community Policing. Fine as this viewpoint may seem, if we take a critical look at these countries, it will be seen that the two countries are linguistically homogeneous. When a country has just one language, it is already a Community, at least from the perspective of Dictionary definition of Community. On the other hand, if one looks deeply at current protests around the United State of America arising from the death of George Floyd in the hand of Minneapolis Police, one could see the potential problem of State-led Community Policing.
Ordinarily, the peaceful protest by Black Community in Minneapolis over George Floyd’s death, is justifiably correct and within their fundamental right as the Constitution of the US guarantees, but because Minnesota State where the unfortunate incident occurred, is controlled by the Democrat Party, the authorities there, systematically encouraged anarchy to paint the Donald Trump-led Federal Government in bad light, ahead of November 3, Presidential election. Inspired by that, other Democrat controlled States in the US, also encouraged anarchy in their domains. This is the greatest problem of State-led Community Policing. The agitators of this variant of Community Policing are only interested in controlling Police for political ends.
It is safe to conclude that a heterogeneous and almost a two party system nation like Nigeria will only court anarchy, if she contemplates State-led Community Policing. The current politically motivated Democrats hijack of Black Lives Matter demonstration in the US; is eloquent proof that State governments variant of Community Policing is potentially dangerous for Nigeria. The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu has shown leadership in the way and manner he is going about this laudable Federal-led Community Policing, particularly, the sincerity and openness ha is exhibiting in dealing with regional Police agitators. He has at best, shown professionalism in managing and Policing Nigeria.
Like the IGP said on June 23, 2020 in Gombe State while inaugurating the Community Policing Adversary Committee that the “Police can’t be everywhere, at the same time”, it goes to show that Nigerians are now a key factor in designing a good security architecture. Beyond this however, is the problem of Trust. This can be clearly seen in what the traditional ruler of Isanlu, Etombi, Agbana said on June 14, 2020, after eight (8) Policemen were brutally killed by armed robbers in Isanlu in Bank robbery. Hear him: “Kogi bank robbers used powerful guns, explosives, they probably had influential backers”. This writer believes that the best way to guide against the burden of Trust is to design a programme that will protect the identity of a whistle blower on crime, from the powerful and influential backers, the Etombi of Isanlu referred to here. This will greatly complement the Community Policing initiative.
The Mohammed Adamu–led Police should however, avoid relapse, otherwise the gains recorded on Federal-led Community so far will be lost. To consolidate on his achievements on this variant of Community Policing, the IGP may garnish the Community Policing with aggressive and confidence inspiring Preventive Policing measures. One of the measures is a whistle Blowing Initiative on Insecurity. This policy will hopefully make every Nigerian a whistle blower on insecurity. If Police under Mohammed Adamu, gives this preventive Policing a consideration, it will not only considerably reduce insecurity in Nigeria, but greatly complement Federal-led Community Policing.
Emeka Oraetoka, Information Management Consultant & Researcher
Wrote in from Abuja, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
GSM: 08056031187 09039094636.