Policing is a vital part of any society. Even the medieval periods which Thomas Hobbes probably described ‘’as life outside society would be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short’’, individual policing, territorial watch have been part of our humanity from time immemorial.
Effective policing is panacea and a major lifeline for good governance in any type of government whether democracy, oligarchy, monarchy etc as the success or otherwise of a government is anchored and permitted by the level of social order created by the system of the society’s policing efficacy because without peace, social order and sanity, no sustainable development can materialise. In theory and in practical, the primary responsibility of any government is the protection of lives and property.
My opinion on the incumbent commissioner of police is that of a man that manages information efficiently, engages stakeholders timely and gives instructions and interventions in emergencies properly. I witnessed one of his professional coordination; The recent kidnap of some lecturers at Igboora showed that the much clamoured community policing can only reach desired heights if experienced information manager is put as commissioner of police. Shina Olukolu is a round peg in a round hole in effective and target oriented community policing.
Crime response options must be on the table always but there are crime periods. Particular crimes, except kidnapping, including terrorism are perpetrated at peculiar periods. For instance, in the build up to elections and shortly after elections in Nigeria, violence incitement through hate speeches; though not yet seen as a legal offence but in so many instances, it has caused deaths of innocent people, kidnappings, assassinations, ritual killings, riots, and jail breaks, from my research, are always on the high and at alarming rate because arms proliferation and political desperation pervert the mindset of the players in the polity. Towards religious celebrations, men of the underworld usually lay siege as they aspire to live a large life but lack the legitimate capacity to amass such. Dealing with these periods, the police need special areas like crime prevention advocacy, detection, prevention, crack team and community interaction like the one organised by the Inspector General of Police on August 23, 2019 for the Southwest and a very similar one organised by the Commissioner of Police in Oyo State last Thursday, September 27, 2019 at the police headquarters at Eleyele, Ibadan.
A cursory and an on-the-spot look at the activities for effective Community Policing in Oyo State has shown a new dimension and workable synergy being fashioned out to address the challenges. Speakers at the interactive session included government representatives, royal fathers led by the representative of the Alaafin Of Oyo and security agents who dealt on the issues. Apart from the Commissioner of Police, Shina Olukolu who gave outstanding progress report in defeating crime, experts like Fatai Owoseni, a retired Commissioner of Police who served as Commissioner in Lagos state and is currently the special adviser to Governor Seyi Makinde on Security and others took turns to give solutions and preventive methods.
At the interactive session was an eye-opener to the fact that ethno-branding of criminality against a particular tribe is unfair, unsubstantiated and unjustified as the prime suspects in the kidnap paraded at the event were from various tribes (Fulani and Yoruba.) The transparent readiness and efforts, even at the expense of their lives , at which people like Alhaji Yakubu Bello, Ibrahim Abubakar, the Chairman and Vice Chairman of MACBAN in Oyo State and others put in physically exposing and tracking ‘shafts in their grains’ is legendary and have shown the Fulani community in Oyo State under MACBAN does not support or condone kidnapping and banditry but are also victims and not complacent of the nefarious activities of these misguided criminals. Infact, Ibrahim Abubakar lost a car during the tracking exercise.
One other very important area the police need to pay attention is CRIME CREATION BY bad eggs in the police which Fatai Owoseni placed the fault partly on the recommendations from community leaders during recruitment exercises of the police as he claimed some of the recommendations were not always reflective of the true picture of the character of applicants. A crime can be created when a sustained intimidation of an innocent citizen is orchestrated in connivance with police men. Deliberate destruction of peace instead of arbitration in community issues through intimidation, unlawful detention and incitements has caused societies endless unresolved enmities that the society perpetually contend with.
Owoseni suggested alternative dispute resolution for herdsmen/ farmers conflicts, adherence to guidelines for vigilantes by proper registering with Divisional Police Officers, community intelligence gathering of suspicious movements and also governments interventions .615, according to Owoseni, is the toll free security number enhanced by the Oyo State government in collaboration with all mobile networks with the capacity to receive and process efficient information coordination through calls and text messages on security issues from the public. Suggestion boxes or accessible email addresses could help in the detection of officers who create crime.
Police authorities should begin advocacy against crime with new initiatives like creating ambassadorial portfolios for people who have, through their professions, made effective efforts at curbing particular crimes. This can create a chain reaction for people to want to do something against crime while simultaneously the society becomes safer.
People that influence actions and in actions of people either positively or otherwise in the society are religious leaders, royal fathers, artists, social critics, rich-wealthy people, spiritual leaders, heads of families, community leaders, political leaders, security agents, youth leaders, and social, economic, academic, professional and cultural institutions and organisations. These groups individually or collectively command influence knowingly or unknowingly, consciously or unconsciously, based on their follower-ship or fans strength.
These groups have a greater role in Effective Community Policing than even the police because they are the main custodians of the people and they easily influence actions and in-actions of their subjects or admirers by their actions, inaction and utterances . Fatai Owoseni also agreed with my thought process by saying ‘’leaders of the society determines how decent a society will be’’. Institutions like: Royal Fathers, Religious Clerics, Ivory Towers, Schools, recreation centres ,business Organisations, artists and political Parties, as of responsibility, conscience and for posterity, must devote time, resources and character in the management of the psyche of their subjects for a more decent and value oriented society.
And lastly, as the police authorities ensure that we sleep with our two eyes closed, eternal vigilance on the part of the police and our communities remain the prize of our collective and individual liberties.
Iwilade writes from Iwo, Nigeria.