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Community policing is mere tokenism, can’t resolve security challenges — Odumakin, Afenifere spokesperson

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….‘We were the ones tutoring the police on how to investigate Pa Fasoranti’s daughter’s murder’

By CHARLES KUMOLU, Deputy Editor

Spokesperson for pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Mr, Yinka Odumakin, in this interview, reveals the position of the regional group on the moves for community policing by the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu.

Odumakin
Yinka odumakin

He submits that the peculiarity of Nigeria’s security challenges demands state police, not community police.

What is the position of Afenifere on IGP’s moves for community policing?

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The policing system has failed. Introducing community policing may be a good move but it is mere tokenism that cannot address the problem of policing in Nigeria. What we need is state police. If we have that, the communities would now bring the police to the grassroots. I read that the Sharia Police in Kano, Hisba, destroyed thousands of bottles of beer.

Why didn’t the Nigeria Police go to Kano to help the Sharia Police? If those practicing Sharia have their police, why can’t governors with constitutional roles have their police? Elected governors should have the powers to have police for their states. In America, the states have their police, even universities have their police. Introducing community policing now shows that we are still running away from the issues. What we need is state police. America that you just mentioned has community policing apart from the police departments of the various states.

Also since the country is still far from having the United Nations standard of 100 policemen to 400 people, don’t you think community policing should be embraced?

I am not saying it is a bad idea but not good enough for our situation. In America, even the universities have their police. Community policing makes sense in their situation but our situation is different. In our situation where one Inspector General of Police, IGP, is policing the country from Abuja, community policing is not good enough. How can community police work in a place where the President would ask the IGP to go to Benue and he would not do that? It cannot work in such a situation. We are not saying they should not do what they want to do but it cannot address the situation.

The IGP has explained the components of community policing and how the system would work. What are those things that Afenifere would suggest to make it work?

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In the South-West, we are a peculiar people with our internal security system. For instance, those who kidnapped people in Osun State last Sunday have been rescued and Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, played an active role in the search and rescue operation. When the police had problems in stopping the reign of Badoo Boys, it was when OPC got involved that they were able to arrest the boys and those backing them. That showed the potentials of state policing.

In terms of CCTV cameras that they want to install, I hope they have the infrastructure to make it work. However, the Nigeria Police of today that is being supervised in Abuja cannot do the policing work alone, we need state police. In most of the states, the governors are the ones funding the police. The equipment that the Federal Government is providing is not up to what is required to run the federal police. Often, they say that the state cannot fund state police, are the states not the ones currently funding the federal police? Community policing can tap into the traditional defence mechanism in the South-West but what we need is state police. The issues would still be there even with community policing.

Have the police reached out to you people on their plans for community policing?

We got a letter from the office of the IGP some weeks back. They said a team was coming to interface with us. We gave them a date which they said was not convenient for them until they had a security summit in Ibadan. They invited us to the summit and we attended. Since then we have not heard from them. When we meet, we have inputs that we would make.

It was recently reported that the police investigating the murder of Pa Fasoranti’s daughter are yet to question her driver. What can you say about that in the light of what the police claim to be doing in the South-West?

That is why we are holding everything they are saying with a pinch of salt. If there can be such a shoddy investigation into the death of Funke Olakurin, it shakes our confidence in the police. Apart from not questioning her driver till date, the driver of the second vehicle, Sienna, who claimed that he was kidnapped by the killers, came back without any evidence of payment of ransom.

He was arrested by the police alongside his friend when they came back, and they have been released. Till date, the police have not briefed the family about the investigation two months after the murder. Until I spoke to the Force Public Relations Officer, PRO, Frank Mba, they were not ready to do any forensic investigation on the car. The car was released to the family in Ore. I don’t think there is any equipment for forensic investigation in Ore.

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The car was released to the family a day after she was killed. It was when I called Mba to ask him why a forensic investigation had not been done on the car that they came to pick the car six days after. At the time they came, many people had already touched the car. They have released the car to the family again without any report regarding their findings.

They were not ready to do an autopsy until I spoke to Frank Mba again. They have released the report of the autopsy to the family. Apart from that, they have not briefed the family about how far they have gone including those they have arrested. How can such a police force say that they are commencing community policing? Who would have confidence in them?

If not for the report stating that the police had not questioned the driver, the Afenifere and other Yoruba leaders who had spoken loud when she was murdered became silent on the matter. What was responsible for the silence?

If we had been talking before now, they would have said that we didn’t give them time to do their work. We have given them more than two months without results. From day one, we knew they were not serious about the investigation. Yoruba has an adage that if a child would die, let the child die in the hands of the mother. We gave them a long rope to see what they would come up with. We did that not because we are happy but to allow them carry out their investigation. 94-year-old Papa Fasoranti is still grieving every day over the killing of his daughter.

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It is very painful to lose a daughter. His major pain today is the way the police are handling everything. When I spoke to him last Friday, he said he was not happy with the way the police are handling the murder of his daughter. I felt the agony in the voice of that old man. If they can handle the killing of such a high profile person in that manner, what is the hope of the common man?

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