From Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
A new trend of movement for security of lives and property through better cooperation with security agencies has begun in Anambra State with the recent inauguration of the Eminent Persons Forum in Awka, the state capital.
Former Vice President of Nigeria, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, and the Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, at the gathering held at the Women Development Centre, Awka, commended the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Ibrahim Idris, on his initiative to introduce community policing across the country.
Ekwueme described the policy thrust as laudable, something that has been suggested for a long time.
“It is something being preached for a long time. This time, it is being configured in such a way that crime prevention is not left in the hands of the police alone.
“With the involvement of community leaders and local vigilante, it would optimise the task of crime prevention,” he said.
Governor Obiano, while lauding the initiative, said that security remained key to investment and development.
The governor, who was represented on the occasion by his Deputy, Dr. Nkem Okeke, said that the community policing project was a wonderful idea that needs the support of all Nigerians, adding that the people in Anambra communities should always avail the police of credible information on suspicious activities and persons around them.
The deputy governor noted that Governor Obiano takes anything that has to do with security very seriously, which, he said, has earned the state a near crime-free status.
According to him, security holds the key to development because without security, the people cannot invest.
He described the Eminent Persons’ Forum (EPF) as a noble idea, noting that community policing works because the residents of various communities know the criminals in their midst while the police are limited in number and can’t be everywhere at the same time, hence the need to build bridges in the communities.
He pledged that the Anambra State government would keep supporting the security agencies in the state and also foster better police-citizen relationship.
Anambra State Commissioner of Police, Mr Sam Okaula, while inaugurating the EPF, said it would help the state police command in the fight against crime and criminality in the state.
He disclosed that the forum has a membership of 180 persons cutting across all strata of the society, with five from each of the 36 police divisions in the state.
He said that the EPF was borne out of the realisation that policing in a complex society like Nigeria requires carrying the people along.
The commissioner thanked Governor Obiano for providing the platform for security agencies to work effectively in Anambra, and gave the assurance that the officers and men of his command would continue to deliver optimum results in the the state.
Okaula noted that the forum comprised people who had distinguished themselves in their fields, and their selection was in accordance with their exalted positions in their communities, as well as immense contributions to development and concern over security matters.
“Their agenda includes the fight against crime and criminality in Anambra State and to partner the police in promoting cordiality, harmony, peace, law and order in their various communities,” he said.
They are also to expose police complicity, compromise, inefficiency, corrupt tendencies and any act of infraction when they occur, because the command had mechanisms in place to check such unacceptable traits.
“This event marks the beginning of our collective resolve to transform Anambra State into a nest of peace, a haven where everybody can walk the streets without fear of a kidnapper breathing down his or her neck or robbery gangs visiting homes with impunity.
“May I also seize this opportunity to remind you that crime and criminality thrive only where good people decide to keep mute. Crime will continue to soar to high heavens where the public continue to see the police as an enemy. Criminals would continue to rape justice with impunity if you refuse to pass useful information to the police.
“Our quest for a crime-free society will remain a mirage if we don’t cooperate, collaborate and synergise to fight crime and criminality,” he said.
The Vice Chancellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Prof. Joseph Ahaneku, in his remarks, noted that the police in the country, particularly those serving in Anambra State with Governor Obiano’s intervention, have been very helpful in security matters .
He said that because of the effective security network in the state, universities and other higher institutions of learning domiciled in the state now carry out their research work and other activities unhindered.
Also the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, who was represented by Ajie Okadigbo, Chief B.O. Adibua, urged the participants to take the EPF as a very serious duty.
He said that the Divisional Police Officers in the various police stations have many problems to contend with, but community policing would help them to succeed.
The monarch admonished members of the forum to be grounded in information in their various localities and feel free to share such information as it concerns crime and security to the police without delay.
The leader of Hausa community in Anambra, Alhaji Garba Haruna, on his part, hailed the peace and tranquility between the Igbo and other ethnic groups resident in Anambra.
He said the Hausa community has already keyed into the community policing project and assured of their maximum cooperation in fostering peace and security.
Other dignitaries that attended the event were the former Commissioner of Police, Delta State and currently Coordinator of Vigilante Services in Anambra State, Chief Ikechukwu Aduba, the traditional rulers of Awka, Eze Uzu Gibson Nwosu, and his Nnewi counterpart, Igwe Kenneth Orizu, among other traditional rulers.