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#ENDSARS: Community Policing As An Alternative By Ifeoluwa Aduloju

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The rallying cry from Nigerians to end the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARs) of the Nigerian Police Force is the major issue in Nigeria now. The main reason being accusations of intimidation, harassment, brutality, indiscriminate arrests, even extra judicial killings and acting as a menace against the people they are meant to protect. The Inspector General of the Police, Mohammed Adamu last Sunday in response to this announced the banning of SARS and other tactical squads of the force from routine patrols.

A terse statement issued by Force Headquarters in Abuja indicated that other tactical squads affected by the ban include the Special Tactical Squad (STS), Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Anti-Cultism Squad and other tactical squads operating at the federal, zonal and command levels. The ban means that they are stopped from carrying out routine patrols and other conventional low-risk duties notably stop and search duties, checkpoints, mounting of roadblocks, traffic checks among others.

It is pertinent to note that this will be the fourth ‘ban’ on SARS in 4 years. While recognizing that the Nigerian Police Force has recorded some success in the fight against crime and in the maintenance of law and order, it will be not be far from the truth to assert that it has not totally done well. To begin with, Nigeria is seriously under-policed, combined with poorly trained and lowly motivated personnel who see their status as an opportunity to extort the public. Crime rates have been on the increase as people even accuse the police of conniving with criminals to rob them of their belongings resulting in cases of “stray bullets”, “accidental discharge” etc.

Many Nigerians have been sent to untimely graves by gun-throttling police officers. In a report jointly produced by a New York-based Open Society Justice Initiative and the Network of Police Reform in Nigeria, they described police stations in the country as “torture chambers.” It accused the Nigeria police of routinely carrying out extra-judicial killings of suspects, torture or molestation while in detention. The report added that the pattern emerging from the study “is that the police are more likely to commit crimes than prevent them.”

Achieving peace and maintaining law and order in any society remains a herculean task. While developed countries like Britain, USA, Canada, Australia etc. have attained some levels of maturity in the maintenance of law and order, crime detection, developing countries like Nigeria, with high incidence of corruption, are faced with the challenge of effective and efficient policing. In the specific case of Nigeria, while the country continues to combat the Boko Haram menace, militancy, kidnapping, armed robbery and banditry, rape and other criminal activities being perpetrated against innocent people, citizens now seem to have another fear in the reported horrific activities of SARS and other similar units of the Nigerian Police Force. This fear originates mostly from the negative activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), the Joint Taskforce (JTF) and the Anti-riot Police Personnel (Mobile Police). These squads have been accused of mounting roadblocks on Nigerian roads and engaging in maiming and sometimes killing those who resist their extortionist and other graft activities.
Torture, which is nicknamed “discipline” by the Nigerian Army, is also common among various departments of the Nigeria Police Force, particularly its Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and SCID or SCIB operatives. Even human right organizations are not spared in the abridgement of the rights of Nigerians.

These social vices combined with the low performance of the Nigerian Police has prevailed despite the existence of the Ministry of Police Affairs, Police Service Commission, Nigerian Police Academy and College, changing from the Nigerian Police Service to Nigerian Police Force and the billions of naira annually allocated to them. What could be the answer to this state of insecurity, criminality and police inability to contend crime and insecurity?

Community Policing

This submission attempts to review how community policing may provide alternative solutions to reforming the entire force and regain the trust of Nigerians in the country’s security apparatus if properly implemented. Crime detection becomes easier when communities are adequately involved. This is due mainly to the fact that members of a given community could easily detect strangers and criminals and report the same to community police officers among them. This way incidences of crime will be reduced, law and order maintained and peace achieved. However, police should be able to anticipate the security needs of their host communities, armed with comprehensive criminal statutes and a clear understanding of what populace expects of their police force.

Sometimes Police understanding of what the citizens expect from them usually vary from the actual preferences of the citizens. For instance, the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) understanding of the security expectations of Nigerians may dwell on the fight against armed robbery, kidnapping, militancy, oil bunkering, Boko Haram and arson while the preference may not be limited to these expectations but include fight against rape, domestic violence, police impunity and unlawful detention.

Community policing strategy should prioritize community cohesion. Divided communities are prone to violent conflict. The policy framework must be designed to align and collaborate with existing community-based groups to understand community needs. The familiarity of community policing actors with residents will be valuable in mobilizing community groups towards suing for peace in the face of conflict or working together to tackle criminality at the community level.

Looking at the obvious (and maybe justified) resentment many people have about Nigeria’s security operatives; it is enough to explore its relevance in community policing. Community policing offers a myriad of opportunities in Nigeria, depending on how it is structured and applied. One crucial element to consider should be how it can maintain fruitful relations and promote community action against crime and conflict. Community policing frameworks must take into consideration the numerous identities that exist within the community. It is not enough for its members to be drawn from the communities, but their perspective towards carrying out their operations is key to building community partnerships and promoting durable peace. Therefore, to make community policing work, implementing states must explore different angles.

Community policing should bring the police and citizens together to work to prevent crime and solve neighborhood problems. It emphasizes the significance of stopping crime before it takes place, as against responding to calls for service after the crime happens. It (community policing) also provides the people of a given community more control over the quality of life in their community. In community policing, the police become part of the community. Consequently, the police get a better sense of resident’s security needs and engender trust between the residents of the community and the police.

Community policing forums must also be broadened to include residents from all ethnic, religious, occupational, and age groups in the community, so that all residents’ needs and perspectives are included in discussions of community issues and problems. A major constraint on community policing is underfunding.

Community policing requires much greater funding than traditional policing, since it requires that all officers be trained and retrained, more modern crime-fighting equipment, and morale-building pay raises for officers. An additional issue bearing on the success of community policing in Nigeria is the emergence of local vigilante groups to fight crimes in communities where police have done little to maintain law and order. Local governments should promote regular local seminars to enlighten vigilantes on their roles, limitations, and their cooperation with the police force. The efficiency of this approach is however, faced with some challenges bordering on interference of some ‘powerful’ members of society in the course of justice, inertia on the part of some corrupt police officials who want the status quo to be maintained, financial constraints, and the unpleasant image of the police.

The SARS unit was set up to solve the problem of violent crime against society, now that a majority of its personnel has deviated from the initial vision and become the same elements they are to stand against, it can be said that there is credibility and a need to pay attention to the call to end SARS. The problem with this ‘solution’ however is that it will only be a smokescreen, almost a knee-jerk reaction to a deep rot that has been festering for long in the entire system.

If the unit is eventually disbanded, the personnel will not disappear or be retired, they most likely will be reassigned to other units; thus, carrying and redistributing the same rotten orientation with them. The many ‘reforms’ promised over the years and now reiterated by the Government and the IGP should be totally implemented with backing legislation criminalizing police brutality and indiscriminate use of force. Enough of the lip service and press statements.

Also, lower ranked police officers, constables and traffic stop officers need not be armed with weapons. Some of these officers are not properly trained or educated enough to effectively carry out law enforcement without a show of force. There is a general landscape of poor education, flawed recruitment process, training deficiency, poor funding, welfare & equipment, and above all, unparalleled political interference that has been beguiling the Force and has continued to do so, in spite of the credentials or credibility of the IGP.

In the end, we the people need to understand that achieving a working partnership between communities and the police is a two-way street, as no one can fairly seek accountability when there is no equity. The Civil Society needs to do its part in rebuilding trust in the nation’s security operating system by upholding the rule of law, and enforcing the spirit of patriotism by imbibing good character and cooperation with relevant security agencies. Even in the face of slight and offence, citizens cannot continue to take law into their own hands, entrench a culture of violence, practice an eye-for-an-eye or jungle justice, and yet demand for civil and courteous police who are cut from a different cloth.

Conclusion

The effectiveness of community policing depends on the public having confidence and trust in the police. With the security challenges in the country, trust in the police is quite low in Nigeria. The police must address the problem of corrupt officials and limit the involvement of police agencies in partisan politics, since community policing requires that officers be viewed by the community as unbiased public servants rather than as tools of oppression for ruling political parties. Police training must also focus on developing skills and qualities related to effective community policing. This means officers should be schooled in liberal subjects such as sociology, psychology, and political science. This will facilitate officers’ involvement in community development and positive interactions with community residents.
This strategy will only be guaranteed if local partners that will work directly with community policing actors are included in the planning and implementation stages of community policing as well as adequately trained to discharge their duties. Such inclusion should be systematic enough to capture the specific roles and responsibilities of community actors in working together with traditional institutions to resolve conflict or tackle crimes at the community stage. Regardless of the realities of existing security structures, community policing promises good outcomes in Nigeria if properly employed.

The agitation to end SARS can be refocused with a basis on the need to ensure that the framework for community policing is genuinely able to present a marked departure from what exists today. This has to evolve through partnership with community-based organizations, civil society groups and the Nigerian Police Force.

Aduloju is the Media and Communication Officer
Progressive Governors Forum, Abuja.
Email: ifeoluwaaduloju@gmail.com

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DJ Switch And Blood of the Innocent – By Sunday Attah

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Obianuju Catherine Udeh, also known as DJ switch indeed attempted to steal the limelight when she purportedly live-streamed the incident that took place at the Lekki Tollgate some days back. I recall that she became the reference point wherein she alleged that over 78 people were killed. And as usual, the whole country went to town with this number alleging massacre, genocide against the youths and all manners of words were used to describe the Nigerian Army.

I had suspected the mischief in DJ Switch all along but lacked the facts to prove my point due to the sensationalisation of the whole event. But my time came when she recently came out to clarify issues and this time around introducing another twist.

DJ Switch has all of a sudden switched the number of people that were massacred from 78 to 15, as a fact, she stated that there was a young boy that indeed shielded her from the bullets of the soldiers and he dropped dead.

DJ Switch, in her recent outing, was a bag of contradiction and unintelligence so much so that I wondered how she was able to make a fool of the whole country and still has the nerves to further insult our sensibilities by claiming that aside from the soldiers that were at the Lekki Tollgate, there were also about 45 SARS operatives that came and were shooting at peaceful protesters.

She also stated that they carried the corpses of those that were killed and gave them to the soldiers who loaded them into their vans and drove away. I am indeed speechless because this movie that DJ Switch produced would go down in history as the movie with the highest subscription.

As a start, there was pandemonium and people were running for safety after the lights went off. There were gunshots in the air, and all others scampered for safety except the lead actor in the movie, DJ Switch whose role at the time was to be counting the number of dead bodies before her battery went dead.

It is also assumed that she has some supernatural protection that made her dust the bullets that were fired into the crowd and felling people and she was counting. And the climax of it all is the fact that she was so brave amid pandemonium to lift dead bodies to where the trucks of the soldiers were, which they eventually loaded into their trucks and zoomed off.

Again, these people that were killed are aliens that dropped from the sky with no relations or family. I also suppose Eniola Badmus was also amongst those that were dead before she resurrected.

I do think that the overarching aim was to score cheap popularity, not minding the consequences of her actions. What DJ Switch succeeded in doing was fooling everyone with fake news. I am constrained to add that probably she was amongst those conscripted by those powerful forces against Nigeria to heat the polity with falsehood, which they succeeded in doing hence the outpour of emotions from wide and far, including outside the shores of Nigeria.

This action by DJ Switch is not only despicable, it is also worse than genocide because for somebody to deliberately spread lies that is capable of setting the country ablaze and she sees no qualms with it is indicative of a motive that is worse than genocide.

We must also remember how. Radio-Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), One Thousand Hills Free Radio, incited the genocide that claimed over eight hundred thousand lives during a hundred days in 1994. I would assume that was the model DJ Switch and her sponsors wanted to adopt in Nigeria because if that wasn’t the case, how could one be able to do live streaming if indeed bullets were being fired into the crowd.

In my opinion, that was meant to spark an ethno-religious conflict in Nigeria because the overarching aim was to paint a picture of the victims as from a particular ethnicity in Nigeria and this would lead to reprisal attacks across the country.

DJ Switch indeed has to apologise to Nigerians for selling her soul to the demon in return for a plate of porridge. Not just that she also has a moral burden to tell Nigerians why she elected to spread falsehood and who her sponsors are. I think this is necessary to put the records straight.

I am afraid that the likes of DJ Switch dots the nook and cranny of Nigeria and are prowling looking for the perfect opportunity to instigate violence by spreading fake news. I think at the point, Nigerians do not need to look further for proponents of fake news because they are those who would take selfies during protests dramatising how they support a cause, but in truth, they are only acting the script of their paymasters.

The proponents of fake news are also those that would live stream events when the supposed bullets are flying around and bringing people down but them because they have the powers to dodge live bullets.

DJ Switch must as also realise that the blood of the innocent people that lost their lives as a result of her misdeeds would continue to haunt her and her paymasters. And this is what happens when people betray their God-given gender for anything else that pleases them, and when they know that evil has occupied them like a house.

Indeed the whole world was fooled by DJ Switch, whose primary mission was to cause a crisis of unimaginable proportion. I can bet that we shall soon hear from her again with regards to the number of dead persons she counted. Maybe this time, it would be 10 and no longer 15.

Attah is just trying make common sense from Abuja.

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#EndSARS: Listening to President Buhari From a Hater’s Perspective – By Isaac Ikpa

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Unarguably, a few Nigerians take President Muhammadu Buhari for granted, especially, the frustrated elites and their acolytes who are also ignorantly recruited to hate Mr. President. But there is nothing extreme about it. All over the world, leaders are hated by some and loved by others.

To this clan of haters of Buhari, they think in their narrow and shallow minds of being more Nigerian than President Buhari and so, he ought not to be Nigeria’s democratic leader. But since they are not God, Buhari is today Nigeria’s President and shall serve in that capacity until 2023, unless the King of Kings decides otherwise.

Therefore, the wailers and haters decorate him with funny epaulets such as “Baba Go Slow,” “civilian dictator,” “Jubril of Sudan,” “Mr. clueless,” and many others. But these people hardly pay attention to President Buhari’s positive sobriquets such as “Mai Geskiya” or “anti-corruption campaigner” or “Mr. Integrity.” It pains some souls that Buhari is associated with a positive virtue. But it came naturally from Buhari years of expression, strength of character and values of integrity.

Engage these anti-Buhari apostles on social media and take the position of defending President Buhari, his government and populist policies, even the beneficiaries spew terrible insults on your person. An axiom says, God protects the innocent. So, He has never abandoned Buhari for the ravenous wolves to devour. He emerges after every evil plot against him stronger and undistracted.

President Buhari addressed the nation on the aimless and continuing #EndSARS protests, which have turned violent and bloody in some states. He was not only articulate, but exuded wisdom and savvy as a leader. He spoke plainly and bluntly, but told Nigerians the gospel truth. He condemned the beastly actions of the protesters and called a spade, a spade.

The President acknowledged the democratic and constitutional rights of Nigerians to peaceful protests; but strongly abhorred the influenced violence and bloodshed trailing the demonstrations now. Of course, the reported sexual abuses of women, which has also featured in the #EndSARS protests can never qualify as genuine expression of grievances against government. The protests now reek with preconceived and executed criminalities. Mr. President is aware and such insanity cannot be condoned by any responsible government.

Mr. President was firm and resolute that national security cannot be compromised and the demonstrators must also respect the rights of other citizens to go about their legitimate businesses, while they protest peacefully. His message was clear and strong by his assertion that Government’s quick response to the five-point demands of the #EndSARS protesters should not be misconstrued as sign of weakness. Sometimes, a leader must be firm in his decisions.

But perhaps, the perpetrators and sponsors of the violence and bloodbath in the guise of #EndSARS protests may not decode the President properly because they have a devilish agenda, which must be executed by all means. But they are not men enough. They would have rather faced Mr. President directly instead of hiding under a phony protest. That’s a sign of cowardice!

But Buhari’s speech, stunned, amazed and pained his haters. The demonstrators accused President Buhari of a plethora of wrongdoings and neglect of Nigerians. The accusations were further amplified by their elite sponsors very incitingly. But the President’s speech prima facie elucidated, brought to limelight and weakened the arguments of his traducers and haters.

When he reeled out what his administration has done and is still doing for the welfare of Nigerians, particularly youths, women and most vulnerable groups, it shocks many to chilliness.

There have been subsisting unhealthy arguments and quarrels with President Buhari by political elites, the moment he declared that Nigeria’s wealth must be enjoyed by all citizens, especially the majority poor. It raised tantrums and darts were hurled at Buhari by the few elites sitting on a large chunk of Nigeria’s commonwealth. The current violent agitations by some influenced youths you in the name of #EndSARS protests stems from this background. There is an awkward mentality in Nigeria. Once a few wealthy elites are bruised, they feel their anger is representative of every Nigerian.

However, by the revelations in Buhari’s address, most of the proponents and promoters of the violent protests are already aware of the President’s overriding concerns on the empowerment of the citizens and the actions taken; but others are genuinely ignorant of it. But sometimes, its difficult to change the perception and skewed judgment of a foe against you. It is also one of the burdens of leadership.

But which former President of Nigeria can sincerely boast that while in office, and within five years, he launched Farmerman; Tradermoni; Marketmoni; N-Power; N-Tech and N-Agro? These are welfare schemes that have gulped trillions of naira. These are not tales and good-hearted and unbiased Nigerians have attested to it at various times. Some of the #EndSARS protesters are also beneficiaries.

And in the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic and despite shrinking national revenues, President Buhari launched palliatives. Every state of the federation got Covid-19 palliatives. Some State Governments never bothered about it.

Currently, the Buhari administration is vigorously pursuing a broad-based plan to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within a span of 10 years; the establishment of N75 billion National Youth Investment Fund to provide opportunities for the youths and the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Survival Fund. And to support it government is paying three months salaries of the staff of 100,000 micro, small and medium enterprises; payment for the registration of 250,000 businesses at the Corporate Affairs Commission,(CAC); a sumptuous grant of funds to N30,000 to 100,000 artisans; and guarantee of market for the products of traders. Which previous administration in Nigeria can beat this record?

Having been stunned and speechless by the President’s address, the haters and wailers resorted to launch diatribes and upbraids on the President’s manner of presentation. Some claimed, he addressed the nation belatedly; others said, his pronunciation was corrupted. Yet, others said, it was not a live broadcast, but pre-recorded speech. How these arguments are more important than the contents of the message beat the imagination.

And very funnily, some Nigerians said, he delivered the speech while sitting, instead of standing and there were those who said Buhari didn’t speak like America’s President Donald Trump. All manner of trivial things have been conjured and today, it is the main subject of discussion on social media. That’s how unserious a people could become with themselves.

But good enough, President Buhari appealed to the protesters to stage their act peacefully and respect the rights of other citizens. Unlike the unmerited badge that Buhari is dictator, he neither ordered the military to stop the protest nor frowned at the youths on genuine protests; “… but this right to protest also imposes on the demonstrators the responsibility to respect the rights of other citizens, and the necessity to operate within the law. Therefore, it is wishful thinking to abuse the law and seek protection from the same law. That is the meat of the matter.

Ikpa wrote this piece from Abuja.

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Open Letter to Nigeria Political Leaders – By Olaogun Michael Sunkanmi

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Dear Political Leaders,

I write to you as a nation builder, patriotic Nigerian, and as one concerned about the progress of all irrespective of religion, ethnic and political affiliation.

Our country’s situation has its root cause in the repeated failure bequeathed on us and possibly the coming generation by successive administrations.

Leaders’ lifestyle in any society has a direct implication on citizens, whether positively or negatively, and such a lifestyle has brought us on our knees in a sorrowful state. Shall we learn from it?

Undoubtedly, greed and self-centeredness are some of the bad cultures that characterise man’s nature from the beginning. However, it seems that of Africa’s political office holders got raised to the power of a hundred, which also has been taken as the norm by the younger generation.

The cultures mentioned above have sent the lives of many to darkness and glowing stars to oblivion. Where have these cultures led us as a people?

Having studied the lives of leaders(past and present) in other climes, most especially in the western society, have realized that they have in them the culture of self-discipline in terms of what they need but with much priority on the needs of the citizens. Unfortunately, the reverse is the case in this part of the world.
As a concerned patriot, it is important to state that it is in placing citizens’ welfare above yours that you can peacefully enjoy whatever you may have legally acquired.

Equally, the citizens you have sabotaged their destines by siphoning their commonwealth will someday rise against you and also your children.

Let it be known that there is no safe haven anywhere in this digital age. Why not just do good and enjoy perpetual peace in and out of office?

Irrespective of who we are, let contentment be a way of life we must daily embrace so that few will not be a threat to many and vice versa.

May God heal our land. Amen!

Olaogun Michael Sunkanmi
Author of If Africa Will Ever Rise and Co-Founder, Pan Africa Youth Centre for Economic and Political Leadership

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