With the debate over the need for state police still raging, Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase has lamented the inadequate number of police to provide adequate security for the country, and urged the various state Police Commands to embark on and strengthen community policing in their respective states to curb criminality in the country.
This call is coming in the wake of increase in incidents of insecurity in the country, and brings to the fore the frequent debate over the level of adequacy and competence of the Nigeria Police to stand up to their statutory responsibilities and confront these challenges.
The never-ending evil activities the country is presently embroiled under Boko Haram, the increasing rate of kidnapping and armed robbery, alarming social vices among other criminal activities all appear to overwhelm the nation’s security agencies, including the Nigeria Police, which by many indices have not been able to live up to their billing. These, no doubt, were factors which apparently spurred Arase to make his call for the strengthening of community policing.
Community policing, it will be relevant to note, is anchored on a systematic relationship between the police and the entire citizenry, whereby police roles and functions are not simply law enforcement but also include tackling a huge range of community problems, with the assistance and cooperation of community security outfits like vigilantes.
Arase’s call for more community policing, although a welcome idea in Nigeria, was an indication of the inadequacies of those entrusted with the security of lives and property in Nigeria for which the police are in the vanguard. His call should raise concern for the Federal Government especially as the old debate over state police rages. It regularly attracts condemnation by those who consider state police as a policy that will weaken the central government and strengthen the powers of state governments, therefore posing challenges of the continued unity of the country with renewed threats of secession from some agitators in the South-East.
Arase who was in Minna, the Niger State capital yesterday, in continuation of his nationwide tour of Police Commands told a large audience of security stakeholders in the state that there was the need for every Nigerian community to rise to the challenges of insecurity in the country by laying emphasis more on community policing.
The IGP however added that the directive was not applicable to politicians holding top government offices like the Senate President, House Speaker among others.
He disclosed that there were less than 8000 police to provide security for the entire people of Niger state, adding that from the land mass and population of the state, the police were grossly inadequate to man the state effectively but assured that even at this, the police would rise to the challenges.
The Inspector General said the inadequacies could be attributed to lack of recruitment into the Force in the past five years but which he said was being seriously looked into by the Mohammadu Buhari administration.
Arase said he had given a directive that policemen on postings as orderlies to individuals including politicians be withdrawn immediately and redeployed to other more sensitive posts in order to provide the needed security across the country.
He called on individuals, private organisations and communities to come to the aid of the Police in the country by providing logistics to them to facilitate their activities, pointing out that government could not shoulder the responsibilities of security alone.
The IGP directed the state Command to embark on periodic interaction with various stakeholders, including students in the state to know their feelings and problems and chart a new way forward.
The stakeholders included religious leaders, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, National Union of Road Transport Workers, students, FRSC other security agencies among others.