The South East governors and other leaders recently opposed the implementation of the community policing template of the Nigeria Police Force in the zone because it was not in line with the agreement they had in January this year with the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu. Consequently, the governors and other stakeholders in the zone resolved to implement a community policing programme that should be locally driven. They have also mandated the State Houses of Assembly in the zone to commence the enactment of state security laws that will legalise the establishment of a regional security outfit, in line with its joint security programme for the zone.
At the meeting, which was attended by the leadership of the Igbo apex socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, traditional council in each of the five South East states and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the zone, the governors urged the IGP to revert to the initial agreement with him concerning community policing. According to the Chairman of the South East Governors’ Forum and Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, it was only proper and sensible that officers from the South East region should be posted to drive the initiative since they know the terrain better than any other police officers who are not indigenes of the zone to stem insecurity in the area.
Umahi’s submission cannot be faulted. The need for a regional security outfit for the South East is legitimate and desirable considering the rising insecurity in the zone. There is no doubt that the current centralised policing in the country cannot guarantee adequate security. Even the envisaged community policing which the Federal Government is still foot-dragging in its implementation cannot be relied upon. For any effective community or regional policing in the zone, members of the force must come from the zone. Bringing in outsiders who are not from the zone will be counter-productive in view of the fact that they are neither familiar with the zone nor could speak the language of the people.
Moreover, the security situation in the zone has been threatened by activities of killer herdsmen in recent times. The quest for a regional security outfit for the South East is long overdue. The recent comments by the leader of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, Bello Abdullahi Bodejo, that the group will soon roll out vigilance groups across the country does not help matters. The continuing menace of herdsmen in many parts of the zone makes the formation of a regional security outfit very imperative. The South East governors have prevaricated on this matter for too long. This is the right time for them to take the bull by the horns and come up with a security outfit that will guarantee adequate security for the zone. They should emulate their counterparts in the South West who have risen to the occasion by inaugurating the Amotekun regional security outfit to protect the people of the zone from rising insecurity and killing of people.
Therefore, the South East governors should go ahead and create the zone’s security outfit in line with our laws. However, such a regional security agency should not be seen as a rival to the Nigeria Police Force. It should rather complement the force in ensuring security in the zone. Setting up an effective regional security outfit has become necessary considering that the touted community policing has not taken off and there is no sign that it will soon be operational. Moreover, the existing security architecture has been overstretched by the insurgency in the North East and other forms of criminality across the country. Those in government should be reminded that the security of life and property is the primary function of government as eloquently stated in Section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Therefore, we urge the governors of the South East to establish a security outfit for the region in view of creeping insecurity in the zone. The security outfit should be exclusively driven by personnel from the zone. The South East governors should muster the political will to ensure the success of the initiative. Therefore, the State Houses of Assembly in the zone should enact the enabling laws for its take off. We believe that the regional security outfit will complement the Nigeria Police in ensuring adequate security in the zone.