Citizens of Nigeria Deserve Security Guardianship
In a 2000 paper published in the International Journal of African Studies, I presented a case for local police devolutions in Nigeria that will bring the police closer to the people. The article argued that a colossal policing command headquartered in Abuja, Nigeria could not possibly provide adequate policing functions to the security trepidations of the citizens. That proposition was deduced before the mayhem of the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeastern part of Nigeria that has resulted in the molestation and kidnapping of innocent Nigerian school-aged girls from Chibok in 2014.
The essence of the article for police decentralization in Nigeria is that having local police systems will help the Nigerian police to have enhanced control over policing matters, with the advantage of being more answerable to local needs and being more understanding of diverse cultural practices in the country. Yet, opponents of local police formations point to the impact of political abuse and section 214 of the 1999 Constitution that bestows police powers only to the federal government under a military administration.
Nigeria is no longer under military rule and therefore should change the constitution to reflect the practice of federalism that allows citizens to bear and carry arms for self-defense and self-protection. A federal system distributes power among the different units of government. Even if the Constitution gives all the authority to the central government, states have the responsibility of establishing their regional security policies for the safety and wellbeing of their respective citizens, if they can pay for these policies. States can interact strategically with each other to handle their security concerns.
While community policing is an excellent idea to implement in different states, its formation must be real and functional and backed by the Constitution and police leadership.
It is self-defeating to rely on the federal government to provide for the security of over 200 million people in Nigeria alone. It is an arduous task to achieve. No wonder bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, and terrorists move freely in the country, turning it into a warzone. People live in constant fear and are afraid to drive from one state to another. The establishment of the Amotekun security network in Western Nigeria means superior safekeeping and is an ingenious idea for the country so far. Different regions must follow the Amotekun example without just clamoring about establishing community policing within the central police structure. While community policing is an excellent idea to implement in different states, its formation must be real and functional and backed by the Constitution and police leadership.
The community policing philosophy cannot be used as a cop-out from establishing regional security arrangements. Nigeria can have community policing and still embolden regional safety measures to prevent kidnappings, terrorism, and other evils that violate human rights with utter impunity.
What all the regions need is archetypes of Amotekun, a “forest force” backed with robust financial budgets and the support of the state governments. There are many advantages to such “leopard” approaches to the security problems in Nigeria. In the first instance, regional-security commands will be established to share intelligence with each other as well as the central Nigerian police command. Everyone benefits from partnerships and information-sharing among different units of government.
Nigerians will enjoy a life of happiness again if the terrorists and other bandits realize that they are being watched. Terrorists and bandits also fear for their lives, and heavily arming these regional security setups will help stem the tidal wave of carnage caused by these criminals that have destroyed so many lives, properties, and families in Nigeria. Nigerian citizens deserve to be armed for self-protection. The criminals should not be the only ones with weapons of human destruction.
Criminals will always succeed in disrupting the Nigerian economy when they know that there is an absence of capable guardians. There are motivated offenders everywhere in the world; however, the presence of hardening targets and dexterous security schemes will ultimately slow down the disorder that is common in Nigeria today. Nigeria will not become a security failure if the federal government believes that regional security outposts can complement its security policies since the primary function of government is to provide safety and protection of the people.
The central police command should work hand-in-hand with regional security apparatuses to take control back from the terrorists occupying territories and to avoid breakdown of the state officialdoms.
If Nigeria fails to triumph over its internal security matters, terrorists and bandits will continue to pose security challenges to all Nigerians. The central police command should work hand-in-hand with regional security apparatuses to take control back from the terrorists occupying territories and to avoid breakdown of the state officialdoms.
The thirty-six states of the federation ought to develop distinct security agencies and join each other in the gathering of intelligence through community and neighborhood security sectors. Moreover, the establishment of regional security pillars, like Amotekun, will employ the youths. The citizens will become grateful to their state governments for providing them with suitable protection. Global examples abound. In Japan, the Koban, community defense outposts, are everywhere in the neighborhoods, providing intelligence and information for crime prevention, making Japan the country with the lowest crime rates in the world.
The United States has the FBI (central or federal police) and state, municipal, campus, mall, park, airport, railroad, water, and even housing project police units. Like Nigeria, it also practices a national system of governments. Tanzania has sungusungu, a state-supported community effort that protects its pastoral and farming industries. Why can’t Nigeria have regional security outposts? Policing in Nigeria with a top-down policing methodology only cannot provide adequate security guardianship for the citizenry