Policing is a vital part of any society. Even during the medieval periods, which Thomas Hobbes described ‘’as life outside society would be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short,” individual policing and territorial watch were the orders of the time.
Effective policing is a 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 will materialize.
A cursory and on-the-spot look at the activities of the police authorities, especially at the levels of the Inspector General of Police and Com- missioners of Police with regard to taming crime and dispute settlement in states like Osun, Lagos, Abuja FCT Command, Kogi, Enugu,
Oyo, Ogun, Kano, Sokoto, Kebbi, Anambra, and Cross River, with others also trying, crime detection has had tremendous improvement as major crimes have been detected, arrests made and crime syndicates busted. With the IGP Special Intelligence Unit fishing out crime operations, I am of the view that the tool, intelligence, machinery and method used by this professional unit should be infused into every unit of the force so that the heights recorded do not fade away as the tenure of the IGP elapses.
Crime response options must be on the table always but there are crime periods. Particular crimes, including terrorism are perpetrated at peculiar periods. For instance, in the build up to elections in Nigeria, violence could be incited through hate speeches. Though this is not yet seen as a legal offense but in so many instances, it has caused deaths of innocent people. From my research, incidents of kidnappings, assassinations, ritual killings, riots, and jail breaks are very high and have reached an alarming rate because arms proliferation and political desperation pervert the mindset of the players in the polity. Towards religious celebrations, the men of the underworld usually lay siege as they aspire to live a large life but lack in the legitimate capacity to amass such. Dealing with these periods, the police needs special areas like crime prevention advocacy, detection, prevention and a crack team.
One other very important area the police needs to pay attention is crime creation by bad eggs in the police. A crime can be created when 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 have caused societies endless unresolved enmities that the society perpetually contend with. Suggestion boxes or accessible email addresses could help in the detection of these 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.
The following institutions have a greater role than even the police because they are the main custodians of the people and easily influence actions and inactions of their subjects or admirers by their actions, inaction and utterances. Institutions like: royal fathers, religious leaders and clerics, senior members of the ivory tower, schools, recreation centers, business organizations and political parties. These institutions, as a matter of responsibility, conscience and posterity, must devote time, resources and character in the management of the psyche of their subjects because in war or anarchy, hunger is common to both the rich and the poor.
Lastly, just as the police authorities ensure that we are able sleep with our two eyes closed, eternal vigilance on the part of the police and the public remain the price to pay for our collective and individual liberties.
► Mr Akinola Iwilade, a tourism researcher and pub- lic poetry oration presenter, wrote from Iwo, Osun State via email.