The senate resolution on community policing

The renewed call by the senate last week for the de-centralisation of the Nigeria Police Force and the need for community policing as a way of addressing the country’s problem of insecurity reinforces the fundamental obligation of government, which is to guarantee the security of the life and property of every Nigerian. 

The call formed part of the recommendations of the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Nigeria Security Challenges, which was considered and approved during plenary penultimate Tuesday. The upper chamber had set up an Ad-hoc Committee on Nigeria Security Challenges on January 29, 2020, under the Chairmanship of the Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya A. Abdullahi.

Senate Spokesman, Senator Ajibola Basiru, said in a statement that the committee, in its report, made wide ranging recommendations which were also approved by the chamber. It urged the executive to direct the Ministry of Police Affairs and the Inspector General of Police to “decentralise the police command structure with operational and budgetary powers” vested in the zonal commands. 

The senate also urged the federal government to set up zonal security advisory committees at each zonal command to advise on the security challenges facing each zone. The composition of the zonal advisory council as proposed by the upper chamber include; governors in the zone; zonal AIG of police; state commissioners of police in the zone; state directors of the Department of State Security Service; zonal Immigration officers; zonal Customs officers; and representative of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps in the zone.

Others are: representative of the Nigeria Correctional Service in the zone; chairmen of state traditional rulers council in the zone; faith-based leaders in the zone; civil society representatives in the zone; representative of senators from the zone; representative of members of House of Representatives from the zone; representatives of business community and labour in the zone; and any person or persons deemed to be useful and relevant, taking into account the socio-cultural peculiarities of the zone.

Recommendations were also made for the expansion of the state security council and constitution of area command, local government and ward level advisory councils.

The senate, accordingly, urged the federal government to direct the Ministry of Police affairs and the Inspector General of Police to immediately implement the Community Policing Strategy involving local stakeholders at the grassroots, and traditional rulers with a view to addressing local security challenges.

The upper chamber, while urging the state assemblies to make necessary laws to legalise community policing to be established at the local government level, called on state governors to fund community policing from grants appropriated to each local government.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammad Adamu, had, in February, appeared before the senate in plenary over increasing insecurity in Nigeria. The senate had invited the police IG to discuss national insecurity, the need to restructure the security architecture in the country as well as the concept and modalities of community policing.

While the Minority leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe called on President Muhammadu Buhari to resign as president, the senate asked him to dismiss the service chiefs and appoint new ones. The senate also set up an ad-hoc committee to engage security agencies and find ways to end the menace.

After the closed-door meeting, which lasted about four hours, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said the committee of the whole was briefed by the police IG on the “security challenges in the country on the concept and practical implementation and modalities of community policing policy.”

Thereafter, he answered questions bordering on national security challenges, assaults on major roads across the country, illegal circulation of firearms and encouraging synergy between the federal and state governments from senators.

He said the senate resolved to support the Nigerian police through legislative interventions and the police force was further encouraged to be more proactive operationally to protect the lives and properties of citizens.

Addressing journalists, the police IG said the meeting was on the concept of community policing. The concept, he said, is to give policing back to the community – let the community take the initiative in identifying the problems that are there that can lead to the commission of crimes while the police work with the community to solve the crime.

“If you can remember, last year we sensitised the whole country on the need to adopt community policing in the country. The concept is to give policing back to the community and let the community take the initiative in identifying the problems that can lead to crimes and then we work with the community to solve the crime.

The issue of state or community policing has been in the front burner of national discourse over the years, especially with the rising insecurity fuelled by the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east which killing over 12,000 people, armed banditry, kidnapping, herders/farmers conflicts, and other heinous crimes around the country.

We, therefore, commend the senate for rising to the occasion to decentralise the Nigeria Police Force. This is on the backdrop of the inability of the nation’s present security structure to arrest the heightening insecurity, which is threatening the nation’s corporate existence. It is our conviction that community policing will, to a large extent, ameliorate the intractable security challenges in Nigeria.

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