Youths on community watch mission
The fresh security challenges that have emerged in parts of the country since President Goodluck Jonathan declared state of emergency in three northern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe are, to me, wake up calls to the governments at all levels to return to the drawing boards and come out with measures that will serve as plan ‘B’ in our determined effort to arrest insurgency in the country.
One of the options, in my view, is the need to revive the concept of community policing in all parts of the country and drape it with quasi-powers for it to succeed. Here, I am not advocating for a state police. I am indeed rooting for what I may call neighbourhood watch. This system has proven to be pleasantly effective in areas that it has been put to use. Irrespective of whatever nomenclature it might assume, the fact is that it comes with some measure of deterrence that is weighty enough to ward off potential danger from befalling the community.
I recall vividly as a teenager growing up in the village in the 1980s how our traditional ruler and his chiefs had, as matter of necessity, put in place a semblance of community policing in his domain to check the rising cases of “petty thieves”; those that specialised in breaking barns to steal some tubers of yam and yam seedlings in some case, breaking and entering into homes and carting away goats tied in the ‘manger’, among other valuables. The rate of the recurrence of the act got to an intolerable point when it was gathered that most of the perpetrators of the act were non-indigenes but with active connivance with few bad eggs living within.
So the challenge was: “what was the way out?” It was then resolved that a vigilante be put in place to check the menace. Under the arrangement, married women were dissolved into groups and were charged with the responsibility of policing the neighbourhoods from dawn-to-dusk. In the same vein, all married men as well as the mature bachelors were made to form security cells; which were deployed, in rotation, to neighbourhoods watch at nights beginning from 10pm till dawn.
The results were outstandingly unbelievable. Not only did the incidence of crime and other crime-related acts stamped out, it also recreated an atmosphere of absolute order in the community. Over two decades later, the thoughts and echoes of a saner neighbourhood returned to the indigenes that the group was reinvigorated, but this time, with fresh impetus by all to rise against vices that had continually denied the residents of the village well-deserved sleep or that which continued to create fear in them. The return of the security watch group also came with radical policies that killed some age-long traditional practices like the proscription of wake-keeps, night parties, late interments, night funeral rites, among others. I can state here that the success rate has been awesome.
It must, however, be stated that community policing is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. Given the security challenges we are facing at the moment as a nation, I strongly believe that this option, if revisited and treated as an official policy, has the potential to reduce crime, fear and ultimately create a sense of order in our society. Under this arrangement, bonding among citizens is fostered and it can also serve as a veritable intelligence gathering channel for the law enforcement agencies.
If you are still in doubt about the beauty of this, check out the gains already recorded by the Civilian JTF in Maiduguri; check out the recent bravery of some folks that gave the intelligence at Ifo, Ogun State that led to the arrest of a fleeing Boko Haram member. Similar feat was recorded in a village in Kaduna State recently.
In the Ifo feat, a 22-year-old suspected Boko Haram member, Mallam Giraima Umaru Suri, from Bulunkutu Kasuwa area of Maiduguri was arrested in Abeokuta during the week. The Ogun State Police Command, which disclosed the arrest said that intelligent reports had facilitated the arrest of the suspect whom it said had confessed to being a member of the sect at Ishari Kara Cattle Market in Ifo Local Government Area of the state.
The suspect was reported to have confessed to have fled Maiduguri to the state due to the manhunt placed on members of the sect by security operatives was picked up by police operatives in the state, following a tip off.
Tired of the menace of the insurgents in their communities, the Borno Civilian JTF (CJTF) said they had to rise to the occasion by massively contributing to the enforcement of security in the Maiduguri metropolis.
The youths said they know the Boko Haram members who lived in their midst in the past and those still living, but lacked the courage to reveal their identity for fear of being killed. The CJTF members took it upon themselves to help the authorities to uproot the murderous Boko Haram members from the metropolis by going round the city, identifying run away suspected terrorists, arresting them and handing them over to the military-led joint military task force.
In Kaduna, it was also a pay-back time for some gunmen who invaded a village near Fadan Kaje in Zango Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State, as they were overpowered by hundreds of villagers, who killed two of them, while the rest fled. The gunmen were said to have arrived at Madauchi village at the wee-hour of the night and invaded the residence of a prominent villager with the intention of stealing cows.
In many advanced democracies, law enforcement officers, as public servants who interact with citizens on a daily basis, have a unique opportunity to demonstrate the importance of citizen involvement in the community. In turn, they realise that their authority and effectiveness are linked directly to the support they receive from citizens. When fully embraced, community policing is democracy at its best.
Den of car snatchers…
• Keffi Road
• Asakio in Nasarawa East Devt Area
• Agyaragu in Obi Local Govt Area
• Nasarawa Eggon Hills
• Nasarawa Toto
Source: State police command
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Emergency numbers (24 hours)
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