Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
A fresh breeze is blowing across the six states in Nigeria’s South West. It is an air of adequate security that will nip the insecurity pervading the zone in the past few months in the bud.
Recently, the South West geo-political zone security summit was convened by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, and hosted by Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde. The event was held at the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan.
At the security summit, all the governors, traditional rulers and other critical stakeholders promised to support the police, having listened to the IGP, to combat insecurity in the South West and in Nigeria as a whole.
Aare-Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, who was not given the opportunity to talk at the security summit held in June, was given an ample opportunity to speak on how to better secure Yorubaland and the country at large. He said the police should not see pressure groups fighting for their people as enemies of government.
In the same vein, a traditional ruler from each of the states in the zone was permitted to contribute to the discourse, as well as representatives of Ndigbo, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) and other critical stakeholders.
Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, who hosted the summit, and his counterpart from Osun State, Gboyega Oyetola, personally graced the summit. Also, deputy governors of Lagos (Dr. Obafemi Hamzat), Ogun (Mrs. Noimat Salako-Oyedele), Ekiti (Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi), and Ondo (Mr. Agboola Ajayi) represented Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Dapo Abiodun, Kayode Fayemi and Rotimi Akeredolu respectively at the summit.
The event was also attended by traditional rulers from the six states in the zone, including the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II; Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu; Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo; Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji Aje Ogungunniso I; and Olugbo of Ugboland, Oba Frederick Akinruntan.
The host governor, Makinde, presented a welcome address. That was immediately followed by the roadmap to effective security in the South West, and Nigeria as a whole presented by the IGP. The presentation was seen as a soothing relief to troubled hearts in Yorubaland.
Makinde noted that the deteriorating state of security in the South West, and the country at large, prompted the DAWN Commission to organise a security summit on June 25, 2019, during which the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, Mr. Taiwo Lakanu, represented the IGP.
His words: “It was a consensus that measures to be put in place to address insecurity in the South West should be based on a regional approach. In furtherance of this noble and lofty ideal, a holistic framework for security of the South West is being put up by the DAWN Commission.
“In Oyo State, in the next few days, we shall unveil a security roadmap, focused on the following: improvement on security infrastructure, awakening the security consciousness of our people, encouraging robust partnership of non-state actors, such as the traditional institutions, volunteers, and other well-meaning residents of the state.
“The security roadmap will also feature application of technology in fighting crimes and criminalities, collaboration with development partners, especially in the areas of capacity building for our security personnel and others, promotion of effective synergy among security agencies deployed to the state, ensuring effective oversight of the security agencies to curb excesses, especially in the areas of corruption and trampling on the fundamental rights of our people, ensuring the judicious use of assets of the state assigned to the security agencies, and ensuring the sustenance of the afore-mentioned measures, as well as periodic review of the measures to meet the dynamic nature of the society.”
Makinde said the overall objective of the intervention is to ensure “safety and security of our people, reduce the fear of crimes, as well as ensure that all residents of Oyo State, and investors can go about their lawful endeavour without let or hindrance.
“We are not oblivious of our obligations under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government. We consider this sacrosanct. Let me, therefore, state categorically, that we will do whatever is necessary to protect the lives and property of our people in Oyo State within the ambits of the law.”
While presenting the roadmap, the IGP, Adamu, mentioned the achievements recorded by the police in the South West and Nigeria in the fight against extra-judicial killings, kidnapping, armed robbery, cultism, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition and so on, with a view to showing that the police have been working assiduously to combat the menace.
“I am delighted to note that ‘Operation Puff Adder’ which we launched as a strategy to stabilise the security profile in the country and other strategies that we have emplaced since January 2019 have so far been a success story.
“In consequence, between January and August 2019, a total of 552 murder suspects were arrested with 66 such arrests effected in the South West. Similarly, 2, 015 armed robbery suspects were arrested with 363 of the figure arrested in the South West, while 1,154 kidnapping suspects were also apprehended in various operations. And 147 of these were arrested in the South West. Furthermore, 1,183 suspected cultists have also been arrested with 425 of this figure apprehended in the South Western States.
“In relation to recoveries, 1,356 firearms of various calibre and descriptions were recovered in various intelligence-led operations by the Police with 277 of such recoveries made in the South Western part of the country.”
The police boss, who listed other feats achieved by his men, said the Safer Highway Motorised Patrol Scheme and Safer City Scheme would be re-launched in the South West soon. He said a fleet of patrol vans have been purchased and would be deployed to highways and cities. He said cutting-edge Close Circuit Television (CCTV) technology would also be deployed for surveillance functions across the highways and vulnerable locations communities in South West, and other parts of the country.
A special operation, according to him, is underway across South West, which will address the threat of kidnapping and armed robbery on the highways and other locations.
The IG said the police, under his watch,
In a bid to bridge security gaps in the country and give full effect to community policing vision, the Nigeria Police, he said, would recruit 40,000 community police officers across the country. They would be recruited from within the communities where the prospective applicants reside, he informed.
“In relation to South West, the CPOs shall be deployed to complement the police in law enforcement functions within their localities by performing low-risk and non-sensitive policing functions.”
Osun State governor, Oyetola, in his address, described security and welfare of people as the fundamental objectives of government. He said he was quite aware of armed robbery and kidnapping cases at Ikire, Gbongan, Ife area, Iwaraja Junction and Erin-Ijesha, as well as security threats from mining activities in Atakunmosa East and West Local Government areas of Osun State. He assured that no efforts would be spared in maintaining the status of Osun as one of the most peaceful states in Nigeria.
The state, he said, has supported security agencies in Osun with 25 armoured personnel carriers (APC).
“One area that I want to emphasise is the issue of recruitment of more policemen. The country is under-policed. The number of men we have is not sufficient to take care of the entire country.
“But in doing further recruitment, I want to suggest that we should look at the peculiarity of each of the states. Police could be the same Nigeria Police Force. But if you want to recruit, recruit from the local communities, train them and redeploy them to the communities. They understand the terrain. They may know where these criminals are.
“Again, in our state, we have the peculiarity of the mining sites. It is a blessing; but it has its own attendant problems. Bandits from Zamfara found their way back to our state. We have a lot of these criminals parading as miners, to the extent that some are from neighbouring countries like Mali, Chad, and Niger. It’s a major challenge.”
All the deputy governors, traditional rulers and ethnic leaders that spoke on the occasion also highlighted security challenges being faced in their states, proffered solutions and promised to support the police to nip insecurity in the bud in the South West.
The summit was rounded off with a communiqué read by Oyo State governor, Mr Makinde.
He said: “The IGP has approved the deployment of special forces to be commanded by a Commissioner of Police, who will lead a SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) team to support the crime-fighting initiative of the state commissioners of police.
“Governors of the South West geo-political zone have made commitment towards provision of more serviceable, fast-moving patrol vehicles in support of crime-fighting, which shall be launched in no distant future, to complement the available fleet.
“The traditional rulers have promised to join hands with the police to take the on-going fight against heinous crime to the doorsteps of the criminals. The Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) has equally agreed to partner with the police in fighting crime to bring it to the lowest ebb. The deployment of cutting-edge technology, like CCTV, will be strengthened. Aerial surveillance of flashpoints across the South West Geo-political Zone to be sustained.
“In order to give effect to the community policing vision of the Nigeria Police Force, Community Policing Officers (CPOs) would be recruited from within the communities, where they reside. This will complement the police in law enforcement functions within their localities by performing low-risk and non-sensitive police functions.
“It is agreed that the committee, consisting of policemen, other security agencies, the OPC led by Iba Gani Adams, Miyetti Allah (Cattle Breeders Association) and the citizenry should be set up in each state to further discuss the modalities on reduction of crime and criminalities as it affects the states.”
The traditional rulers that spoke on the occasion include Ooni of Ife, Oba of Lagos, Alake of Egbaland, and Olubadan of Ibadanland. They all promised to support the government in ensuring security of lives and property in the zone. They warned that security must not be politicised and that insecurity has been driving away investors
They also advocated adequate funding for the police. In their words, a hungry person would not be patriotic, noting that insecurity emanates from joblessness and poverty.
Aare Gani Adams commended the IGP for sending emissaries to hold meetings with him on how to effectively secure the South West and the entire Nigeria. He said the resolve of the police and South West governors to partner with the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) was highly commendable.
He promised to hold meetings with leaders of other security outfits and stakeholders, including the Agbekoyas, Vigilantes, leadership of community hunters, and other relevant security outfits across the South West. He has started taking steps in this direction as he has met with the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III and Soun of Ogbomoso, Oba Jimoh Oyewumi, Ajagungbade III, as well as some pressure groups with a view to strengthening security architecture of the South West and the country at large.
“Our royal fathers would be involved because they are in charge of their respective communities and I am very optimistic that with this development, our safety and security in the South West will be guaranteed and criminals will no longer find their ways into the region,” he said.