THE dreadful activities of the Badoo gang in the Ikorodu axis of Lagos State has, again, brought out the urgent necessity for community policing. The gang had unleashed terror on Ikorodu communities where many families have been brutally wiped out. Vital organs of their victims were allegedly removed for purposes that are yet to be determined.
The Police have so far arrested over 200 with 25 others declared wanted. These were achieved with the combined efforts of the police, other security agencies and local vigilante groups. Neighbourhoods in Lagos suburbs now rely on youths for their security at night to ward off the Badoo threat, and indeed other threats to security.
The pervasive state of insecurity in the densely-populated town is a reflection of the failure of the current policing system in the country and the need to overhaul it. Acting President Yemi Osinbajo’s pronouncement that the Federal Government would soon come out with a policy on establishing community policing therefore comes at the right time.
The United Nations prescribes one policeman to 100 citizens and Nigeria requires 1.8million policemen to meet that standard. The current centralised police command structure is no longer working. A situation where the Inspector-General of Police in Abuja presides over policing of the remotest parts of the country does not augur well for the system. Decentralisation of policing will enhance crime prevention, effective monitoring and intelligence gathering. It will put policing in the hands of our various localities.
The jungle justice usually meted out to suspected criminals is an expression of the public’s loss of confidence in the police. So also is the resort to self-organised vigilante groups. Badoo and other forms of gangterism are scourges that must be stamped out before they become uncontrollable. The Nigerian Police can only benefit more from states and communities being constitutionally-authorised to key into their efforts.
The community policing we need will enable the state and various local or communal authorities to evolve systems of self-policing and correction that will serve their security purposes. The recent launching of the Lagos State Neighbourhood Corps, LSNC, is a bold step towards community policing, but the Corps must be strengthened and equipped with the right technology, such as drones and trackers, which will help in intelligence gathering.
Already, some state governments have seized the initiative by establishing various local outfits that can easily metamorphose into the much-awaited community police. Necessary processes should be put in place towards amending the 1999 Constitution to enable communities play a greater role in their own security. State and local police outfits can work with the Federal Police to ensure a more comprehensive agenda for safeguarding the lives and property of Nigerians and non-Nigerians in Nigeria.