Community Policing and Surveillance Contract

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By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi –

There is no gain any more saying that the nation Nigeria is currently riddled with high rate of insecurity which includes but not limited to banditry, armed robbery, kidnapping, is no longer the news. Such daily sad occurrences have become word made flesh and now dwells among us.

The newsy aspect of the conversation  is that the weak, defective and unclear provisions of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution not only exacerbate the challenge, discouraged development in the country but most regrettably responsible for the myriad of problems confronting the nation in ways that see both Nigeria and Nigerians keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.

However, if there is any development in recent time that dispatched signals about the urgent imperative  for our leaders to drop the habit of tackling security challenge in the country which has morphed to the ‘next level’ with the same thinking used when it was created, and contemplate state/community policing in the country, it is the result that have trailed the ongoing surveillance contract recently awarded by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), to Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited, a company owned by High Chief Government Ekpemupolo (A.K.A. Tompolo), the ‘Ibe-Ebidouwei of Ijaw Nation’.-and Global Ambassador of the Ijaw people.

Going by commentaries, if policy makers in the country could take time to study Tantita’s recruitment process, their operational dynamics and environmental matrix, they(public office holders) will discover without labour that Tantita as a company and pipeline Surveillance project run on the wheels of state/Community policing templates.

They share the same spirit, virtues and attributes.

Take as illustration, the majority of Tantita’s security personnel were recruited from, and posted to the same community/environment where they hail from. They operate and watch over pipelines within their communities and environs.

As a result of this security template/roadmap, barely two months after Tompolo was awarded the multi-billion naira oil security contract, he discovered over 58 illegal points in Delta and Bayelsa States where crude oil is being stolen. More specifically, there was a media report that Tantita Security Service Nigeria Limited, on Thursday, October 7, 2022 successfully arrested a crude oil tanker, loaded with an unspecified quantity of crude oil at the Escravos River in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta state.

Similar results and breakthroughs are precisely what state/community policing could achieve if allowed in the country.  

The reason for the above assertion is not farfetched.

Aside from the new awareness that globally, provision of security can no longer be viewed in a unitary way as such thinking is out-fashioned, if an objective analysis can replace emotional discussion regarding state/community police, it is glaring that there are no federal police or state police models, but there are fundamental differences between the two. While cultural and geographical homogeneity which are strong factors and advantages of state policing are lost in federal policing, state police depend on these factors and more such as historical and friendship to keep society orderly and without anarchy. This value no doubt makes productive policing without disorder. And state governments have the capacity to fulfill this obligation.

President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), is aware of this fact.

In August 2019, while he played host to the traditional rulers from the Northern part of the country led by the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, the President stated that the ongoing reform of the police would include recruitment of more hands, cultivation of stronger local intelligence and networking with communities, traditional rulers and adequate training. This in specific terms will include recruiting more police officers from their local government areas, where they would then be stationed in the best traditions of policing worldwide. Working with the state governments, we intend to improve the equipping of the police force with advanced technology and equipment that can facilitate their work.

From his speech, he did not only underline  the importance of but also underscores the virtues and attributes of recruiting more police officers from their local government areas, where they would then be stationed in the best traditions of policing worldwide.

The next question is; having seen from Tantita’s examples and achievements, the usefulness of recruiting, and allowing officers to work in their familiar environments, what alternative is open to the nation if  not state/community policing particularly as it is obvious that the vast majority of states can afford it.  

In my view, there is no alternative to having state police that are adequately equipped and completely answerable and controlled by the state governors.

In fact, there are other major reasons that are Buhari-specific as to why the constitution urgently needs to be amended to accommodate state police.

Basically, if providing adequate security for the masses is the government’s priority, it should be the collective responsibility of the citizens to contribute to the success of the process. What the masses are saying, and wanting in my understanding, is that the padding of the Second Schedule of the Exclusive Legislative List, of the 1999 Constitution with about 68 items has made Abuja suffer ‘political obesity’ and needs to shed some weight via power devolution.

As noted elsewhere, the bloated exclusive list has made our nation to currently stand in an inverted pyramid shape with more powers concentrated at the top and the base not formidable enough making collapse inevitable if urgent and fundamental steps are not taken. What the proponents of state police/restructuring are saying is that the majority of the items are too trivial for the Federal Government to handle and should serve the greater good of the people if left in the hands of both the state and the local governments.

Utomi Jerome-Mario is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), A Lagos-Based Non Governmental Organization (NGO).And could be reached via Jeromeutomi@yahoo.com /08032725374.

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