By Mike Ozekhome, SAN
It was Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, who once rightly stated that “Combating crime is everybody’s business, everybody’s responsibility. It cannot be left solely to the Police (www.boija.com).
In the history of nations and institutions, efforts are made to address perceived imperfections, weaknesses and shortcomings. Community policing is a civil responsibility that should be guided by the highest respect for human rights and a more accommodative attitude towards the citizenry.
The ongoing efforts must, therefore, come up with the policing system that is sufficiently purged of the current political system and the mind of the people made supreme.
The Yoruba word ‘Amotekun’ ( https://nigerianwiki.xyz)’ when translated means ‘leopard’ seems to be a contemporary word in the social media as it has caused a lot of ruckus in the political, ethical and religious setting of the country at large.
The security outfit was put in place to curb the menace that has been disturbing the South-West states which includes but not limited to banditry, kidnapping, insurgents, herdsmen and farmers clashes and armed robbers etc., which has made life intolerable for Nigerians in various parts of the country and in the South-West in particular.
Amotekun, the security outfit set up by the governors of the six South-Western states of Nigeria, namely Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Osun and Ekiti is put in place as a counter measure or a form of community policing response to the problem of insecurity in the country.
The outfit is one of the many solutions being planned to tackle the many socio-economic problems with its major focus on the security challenges facing the South-West region as a whole. The security outfit Amotekun is meant to serve as a support vigilance network that will provide surveillance and intelligence to the Police and other formal security agencies to monitor, detect, report, prevent and possibly arrest crime and criminalities in the South-West region.
The South West Zone is the first to have come up with a regional plan for the joint protection of its citizens. In an attempt to contribute to improving the security of the people, some states in Nigeria have also set up security outfits. Some call them vigilante groups, neighbourhood watch, Hisbah or Sharia Police. The names may differ but the goal is the same which is to contribute immensely to the security welfare of the people under their watch.
Definition of terms
For a proper analysis of this discourse, a brief definition of terms used will suffice.
Security: The New Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language, International Edition, defines Security as follows: “freedom from danger or anxiety”. More specifically security refers to precautions taken to ensure against unwanted events. Security services deals with protection of property, persons and information” (The New Websters Dictionary of the English Language (International Edition, Vol II) .”
Community policing: The United States Department of Justice defines community policing as: “a philosophy that promotes organisational strategies in the community to combat potential situations that might create public safety issues” (https://cops.usdoj.gov Assessed on 22/01/2020)”
According to Wrobleski and Hess (Wrobleski, H. M. and K. M. Hess (2003) Introduction to Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice.7th Edition. Belmont: Wadsworth/Thomson), Community Policing is an organization- wide philosophy and management approach that promotes community government, and Police partnership; proactive problem solving and community engagement to address the causes of crime and other community issues.
They also noted that: “the essence of community policing is to return to the day when safety and security are participatory in nature and everyone assumes responsibility for the general health of the community – not just a select few, not just the local government administration, not just the safety forces, but absolutely everyone in the community”
Origin of Community Policing
The central tenets of Community Policing that stresses involvement and responsiveness to the community are similar to the principle set forth by Sir Robert Peel in 1829 when he opined that the Police are the public and the public are the Police. However, as the Police evolved in the United States, they grew further apart from the public they served. This social distance by the Police away from the public was enhanced due to the advent of patrol cars which replaced the traditional foot patrol.
Traditional Police departments are insular organizations that respond to calls for service from their offices. This insular professional approach began to change in many agencies in the late 1970s and early 1980s. During this period, there was a paradigm shift in America from the traditional, professional model of policing to a more community partnership and proactive model of policing (Ibid pp 134-135).
Thus, Community policing started in the United States as a way of shifting Police from its traditional reactionary way of policing to a more proactive policing. For decades, the U.S. Police followed professional model, which rested on three foundations: preventive patrol, quick response time, and follow-up investigation.
Sensing that the professional model did not always operate as efficiently and effectively as it could, criminal justice researchers set out to review current procedures and evaluate alternative programme. One of the first known of these studies was the Kansas City, Missouri, Preventive Patrol Experiment.
The study found that preventive patrol did not necessarily prevent crime or reassure citizens. Following the study, many Police departments assigned Police units to proactive patrol. Another of such significant study was that done by James Q. Wilson and George kelling.
They introduced the theory of “broken windows”. The theory assumes that a community will be free of major crime if minor crimes are gotten rid of. They concluded that in order to solve both minor and major problems in a neighbourhood and to reduce crime and fear of crime, Police must be in close, regular contact with citizens.
That is, Police and citizens should work cooperatively to build a strong sense of community and should share responsibility in the neighbourhood to improve the overall quality of life within the community (Bohm, R. and K. N. Haley (2005) Introduction to criminal Justice. 4th edition. New York: Mc-Graw-Hill.).
Philosophy of Community Policing
The philosophy of community policing is for citizens and Police to share responsibility for their community’s safety.
It means that citizens and the Police will work collectively to identify problems, propose solutions, implement action and evaluate the results in the community. The idea of community policing is quite different from traditional policing that emphasizes strict Police authority on crime prevention.
In community policing, the Police must share power with residents of a community, and critical decisions need to be made at the community level, rather than at Police stations (Ibid).
The goal of community policing is to decentralize Police decision making authority. To achieve this goal, it requires the successful implementation of three essential and complementary components or operational strategies namely; community partnership, problem solving, and change management (Ibid).
Community policing was intended to address the causes of crime and reduce the fear of crime in affected communities. It employs creative management styles so as to engage responsible members of the public in proactive problem-solving tactics to minimize the level of criminal activities and facilitate law enforcement in the communities. The core elements of Community Policing are as follows:
•A broader definition of Police work;
•A reordering of Police priorities giving greater attention to crime and disorder;
•A focus on problem-solving and prevention, rather than incident driven policing;
•A recognition that the „community , however defined, plays a critical role in solving neighborhood problems, and
•A recognition that Police organization must be restructured and reorganized to be responsive to the demands of this new approach and to encourage a new pattern of behavior;
•A recognition that Police services, operation and management must be decentralized for effectiveness, so that local Police officers can speedily address problems and needs encountered at the local levels;
•That the training of Police officers must cover the areas of social interactions and problem- solving in addition to traditional policing skills;
•There must be a partnership between the Police and the communities in defining or identifying, local problems and needs and developing solutions to identified problems;
• Commitment to development of long-term and proactive policies and programmes to prevent crime and disorder (Ehindero, S. 0. (2006: 12-13) “The Challenge of Law Enforcement in a Federal Nigeria”..A paper presented at the Nigerian Bar Association Annual General Conference(NBA) on Law and Justice in Emerging Democracies: The Challenge Before The Legal Profession in Africa. Held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria between 26th August and 1St September, 2006).
Community policing in different jurisdictions
Community policing is defined as a specific direction of policing based on a close co-operation between Police and community and also aimed at effective solution of community problems.
Even though the concept of Community Policing is not new, its philosophy, principles and operational practices have been present in various degrees within policing for centuries. Historically, Police have attempted at various levels to engage with citizens to prevent or reduce crime and maintain social order.
There is no one common or best approach for implementation of community policing in the EU. To that end, it is necessary to take into consideration each country’s policing practices, the level of societal development, legal awareness, as well as other social and legal aspects, historical experience and select a specific working style.
In many European countries the term ‘Community Policing’ means slightly different things, and appears in different styles and approaches; the level of interaction and the amount of administrative functions given to those community Police to complete in addition to the ‘community role’ varies considerably.
Community policing, or community-oriented policing, is a strategy of policing that focuses on Police building ties and working closely with members of the communities. Community policing is a policy that requires Police to inherit a proactive approach to address public safety concerns.
Instead of old fashioned reactive policing, the community-oriented policing is a new policing approach including the modelling of proactive and coactive policing. Community policing delivers Police services to the local community. This orientation is usually associated with community-oriented policing.
Key terms associated with this second orientation are the local community, responding to local needs and demands, citizen involvement, legitimacy, tailor-made solutions, fragmentation, soft policing, and prevention.
The community-oriented policing is based on proactive and coactive policing strategies rather than an old fashioned policing known as reactive policing. In the EU, there is no compulsory necessity for full compliance with legislation, policies and regulations about Community Policing for the member and candidate countries.
As far as Community Policing is concerned, it can be said that there is no a supranational or European level structure in EU. Each member country tries to make and implement its own community policing strategies both at the national and local level.
Community Policing is applied in EU countries to implement victim-oriented Policing and to provide community-oriented internal security strategies. Because of that there are different community Policing strategies and models in the EU countries.
For instance, Netherlands applying neighbourhood policing and the suspect and victim-oriented Policing. It can be said that the best practice of the community policing is in the UK. There is no community policing policy in Germany and Austria.
Community policing is not within the scope of the fight against crime. Community policing is being implemented as part of crime prevention strategies. There is EU Commission recommendation for member states about community policing in the field of interior but it is not legally obliged to comply with these recommendations.
Community policing is a strategy used to provide community-oriented and internal security service in the EU countries. The European Police Office (EUROPOL) has traditional, old fashioned, reactive, incident based approach to problems, with a focus upon enforcement policing department in EU level.
This department provides policing service in struggling with crime rather than preventing the crime. But the Community–Oriented Policing has services on prevention of crime rather than struggling with crime. The European Police Office, commonly abbreviated EUROPOL, is the law enforcement agency of the European Union.
EUROPOL headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands, works closely with law enforcement agencies in the EU Member States and in other non-EU partner states such as Australia, Canada, USA and Norway.
EUROPOL handles criminal intelligence and combating serious international organized crimes by means of co-operation between the relevant authorities of the member states. The agency has no executive powers, to conduct investigations in the member states or to arrest suspects.
EUROPOL do this by assisting the European Union’s Member States in their fight against serious international crimes and terrorism such as international drug trafficking and money laundering, organized fraud, counterfeiting of the Euro currency, people smuggling, cybercrime, illicit immigration networks, trafficking in human beings, illicit vehicle trafficking and other modern-day threats.
EU has no direct powers of arrest but support EU Member States’ law enforcement colleagues by gathering, analysing and disseminating information and coordinating operations. As EU has a power for coordination and cooperation operations they are not effectively active in the prevention of crime.
Thus, there is also no effective cooperation within the member of states of the EU, especially on the issue of Community Policing. Community policing is a further development from problem orientated policing but very similar in nature.
The difference being whilst problem orientated policing deals with specific problems that have been identified and would benefit from a multiagency, the citizen engagement approach community policing uses this approach in all their activities in reducing crime in local and national level.
For example, when the community officers/citizens, identify a problem or a potential crime in the community, when all partners cooperate, they either prevent the event happening or stop it totally and the community automatically benefits from this.
Community policing is underpinned through a systematic problem solving approach; be that crime, disorder or social issues. It is delivered through partnerships and collaboration with the community. It is everyone’s problem within the community and working together enhances the opportunities for success.
Through these positive approaches, community policing increases citizen’s trust and confidence towards Police as well as their feeling safe. At the same time such approaches are likely to reduce crime and other forms of criminal behaviours.
COMMUNITY POLICING IN SOUTH AFRICA
South Africa is a nation in transition, attempting to cope with massive changes resulting from the demise of the apartheid system. The removal of apartheid has created high expectations among the majority of peoples of South Africa.
In the area of national policing, there are optimistic expectations that there will be a removal of the oppressive control exerted by the old South African Police Force, and in its place will exist a new progressive paradigm of a partnership between the people and the government.
The South African Police Force was initially focused as a state mechanism to ensure internal civil social order. The new focus has recently shifted from maintaining the social order to a more traditional Police mission centered on crime detection, prevention and community service.
Crime continues to be a very serious problem in the South African society. Rates of crime and violence remain extremely high, and only the category of public violence (rioting, unlawful assembly, etc.) has abated significantly since the new democracy began. Violent crime has stabilized at high levels.
Commercial crime remains at a high and sustained level. Comparisons to relatively peaceful societies like Sweden, New Zealand, Canada and Denmark show South Africa to be a violent place, with overall crime rates over double the world average.
Responses in South Africa to instability and crime have ranged from argument over statistical accuracy to vigilantism. Suburban whites have turned homes into garrisons, complete with vicious dogs, razor wire and armed guards summoned by “panic buttons” (Matloff, Judith (1995, November 13).
High crime rate in South Africa cuts across racial, economic lines. Christian Science Monitor, p. 7). Common concerns resulting in a sense of general lawlessness include high numbers of firearms in society, growth of organized crime, increased white collar crime and attendant economic effects, increased gender violence, inter-group conflict, vehicle theft and hijacking, and corruption in the justice system (Interdepartmental Strategy Team (1995).
National crime prevention strategy. Government of National Unity, South Africa: Author). The new democracy is struggling to overcome a racially-based, disproportionate distribution of criminal justice resources, which had concentrated on the criminalization of political protest and activity.
Insufficient and ill-equipped crime detection and prevention personnel, outdated systems and fragmented departments contribute to a system that has been unable to cope with the demands created by the need to provide services to all the people since the 1994 National Unity Government took office (Ibid).
The government, in May 1995, decided to develop the first National Crime Prevention Strategy (NCPS). The resulting document stated that any successful crime prevention strategy must be information- and analysis-based, must contain multiple sub-strategies involving multiple agencies, both public and private, and must require the breaking down of the concept of crime into specifics that would allow crimes to be attacked with specific strategies.
The NCPS proposed four “pillars” of action to implement the overall strategy: strengthening the criminal justice system, designing crime resistant governmental systems (identity documents and vehicle registration system), creating educational crime prevention programs aimed at school-going youth, and strengthening South Africa’s regional security.
Community Policing was specifically recommended as a goal for South African Police Service (SAPS) restructuring (Ibid). To that end, the Government of National Unity’s Reconstruction and Development Program (RDP) recommended policing programs cutting across divisional and agency lines, including the establishment of Community Safety Centres (CSCs), accommodating representatives of multiple departments in current buildings such as Police stations, clinics, day care centres and courthouses from where each could render services in a “one-stop,” safe and secure environment.
Future provisions of the plan include establishing satellite stations, where the different role players would be placed under one roof in decentralized service points. Nine pilot programs were begun in February, 1996. At the time of writing, of the nine pilot programs implemented, data have only been collected for Johannesburg and Pretoria.
The data have not been made available to the public yet. A ten point Police transformation program was launched in February, 1995. The plan included human resources management changes to accommodate Police unionization and improve the work environment, proposed new basic and field training of a full year (up from six months) for recruits, and a service-wide training project, called “Ubuntu,” to expose more than 146,000 Police officers to the new policing philosophy of the SAPS (Government of South Africa, The South African Police Service, 1996).
Recommendations to improve public service compensation were included in budget proposals. A private sector response, the NEDCOR Project, agreed with many of the proposals, while calling for additional tough treatment of criminals and a sense of urgency in implementation.
The Project criticized the government policy as well-intentioned but not decisive. Also, NEDCOR Project analysis criticized the new South African Police Service organization for still being too centralized, arguing that crime prevention programs need to be implemented on a local scale. It recommended that specific responsibility be assigned to SAPS for motivating and assisting vigorous crime prevention programs at provincial, municipal and local levels, funded by the central government (The NEDCOR Project (1996, June).
The NEDCOR project on crime, violence and investment (Executive Summary). South Africa: NEDCOR). In addition to NCPS recommendations for implementing community policing, NEDCOR called for short term emphases on specific crimes (hijacking and business-related crime), improvement of SAPS as a professional career option to reduce corruption, and training current SAPS staff to improve management skills (Ibid).
The opposition Democratic Party developed a Safety and Security Policy which also favored a single national Police service, while urging the decentralization of policing powers to lower levels of government, allowing for community action and empowerment.
One-stop, 24-hour metropolitan Police service in every city, accountable to local government, would be formed to supplement SAPS. A Community Organized Crime Prevention Service (COPS) was recommended, whereby communities would decide for themselves the degree of policing required and make arrangements for the kind of policing that would suit them best.
By December, 1995, the former South African Police and 10 former “homeland” agencies had been combined into the single South African Police Service. The organization of the new Police service has five centrally managed national divisions, designed along functional lines, only one of which is specifically mandated to interact with communities to develop priorities for service: the National Standards and Management Services Division. This division is designed as a policy making and consultative entity, and charged with implementing a government-approved Community Safety Plan advancing principle of crime prevention for national trends and local-level specifics.
The division sets priorities for geographic areas of concentration, categories of crimes on which to focus, and partnership strategies with local civil authorities. A National Crime Investigation Division, a National Safety Services Division (which includes border patrol, public order, protective guard and emergency services), human resources and support services divisions complete the organization (Government of South Africa (1996). SAPS Divisions (revised 1996).
[Online]). Police search and seizure powers and emergency action powers were reduced. Military-style ranks were abolished. The South African Police Service. [Online]. Available: www.southafrica.net!government!police.html). The Police reserve has been de-emphasized and steps have been taken to make policing a more attractive professional career option.
As discussed earlier, a ten point Police transformation program was launched in February, 1995, with a focus on human resources management changes and training (Ibid). Anti-corruption measures included public service compensation budget proposals.
Funding for community policing programs has been allocated from the Reconstruction and Development Program fund (Government of South Africa Ministry for Safety and Security (1996), Annual Plan of the South African Police Service 1996/1997, Department of Safety & Security).
COMMUNITY POLICING IN THE NETHERLANDS
Faced with rising alienation between the Police and the public, in the late 1970s the Dutch Police began a program of decentralization and increased Police-community interaction. Police in The Hague established a system of permanent beat officers who make sure the local people recognize them and can approach them. In addition, the Dutch Police adopted several measures recommended by community policing advocates:
1. Informal contact groups comprised of precinct residents and local officers meet on a regular basis and discuss issues of concern to both the Police and the communities they serve. Communication flourished and the Police improved their understanding of what was actually going on at the street level.
2. Precinct books provide comprehensive descriptive and statistical information (i.e., demographics, crime statistics, socio-economic patterns) for each precinct. Officers use the books to familiarize themselves with the communities they patrol.
3. In order to make sure that Police services fit the needs of the public, the Police conduct market research to ascertain, in a systematic fashion, what those needs are and make sure that they are reflected when Police policies are set, ensuring the highest possible public satisfaction.
As a whole, these tactics have contributed to a decrease in juvenile delinquency and have bolstered narcotics control.
COMMUNITY POLICING IN THE UNITED STATES
U.S. cities grew during the early 1800s, they came to require specialized public security functions. Local, elected civilian authorities created state, country and municipal Police forces under their control, modelled internally on a military hierarchy. Overtime, many municipal Police forces became highly politicized and corrupt. In an effort to end Police corruption and brutality, the progressive movement advocated for Police professionalization over a period roughly spanning the 1930s to 1950s. Reforms focused on strengthening command and control and Police management to clearly define their mandate as law enforcement and to establish the principle of unity of command in order to eliminate ambiguity about the chain of authority. Five basic features of this model – the “bureaucratic model” are:
(1) a high degree of specialization of tasks;
(2) a hierarchical structure;
(3) a top-down flow of authority;
(4) a high degree of behavior based on strict conformity with rules; and
(5) a high degree of behavior based on considerations of rank and hierarchy.
Operationally, preventive patrol and criminal investigation became the backbone of Police work. Police sought to confront increases in crime or changes in crime patterns by improving their technological capabilities, particularly their mobility, communications and weaponry.
A central element of the bureaucratic model is the separation of Police from their broader environment in order to remove political influence. While it did not end all problems with U.S. Police forces, this strategy did reduce the political control of Police officers, reduce Police corruption, improve the quality and training of Police, constrain Police use of deadly force, and distribute Police services more equitably in the community. However, it also created highly autonomous institutions with limited community contact and interaction with other institutions providing social services.
It became increasingly clear from the 1960s onwards that the bureaucratic model was not preventing a rise in crime, particularly in inner cities. Technological advances were reducing Police contact with the public as Police spent more and more time in high-tech-equipped cars.
Police crime fighting tactics often increased tensions with minority urban communities, resulting in accusations of discrimination and abuse, deteriorating community-Police relations, lack of community cooperation with Police in fighting or solving crime and increased fear in the communities.
Community policing emerged in the 1970s and 1980s as Police recognized that their tactics were not only failing to address crime but were also, in some cases, increasing levels of fear and contributing to civil disturbances (riots in the late 1960s in cities throughout the United States, and in Los Angeles in 1992 following the Rodney King trial, were triggered by Police abuse). (Police Foundation, 1993).
Police Use of Force: Official Reports, Citizen Complaints, and Legal Consequences. Washington, DC, USA: Police Foundation).
Analysts note two larger social developments that contributed to the emergence of community policing. In the United States, as the civil rights movement brought African American leaders to leadership positions in communities throughout the United States, they brought a Police reform agenda that sought to address both Police abuse and the high crime rates afflicting black communities.
These black officials embraced community policing and, in their recruitment of Police chiefs, sought out Police sympathetic to community policing. From the other end of the ideological spectrum, another factor underlying the adoption of community policing was the redefinition and reduction of the role of the state, particularly federal government, which came to the fore in the 1980s.
Debates about decentralization and privatization created an environment that challenged all state agencies to increase their efficiency and responsiveness. Police were challenged to maximize their cost-effectiveness, running themselves more like a business and listening to the perspectives of their “customers” – the public.
The bureaucratic model was very expensive, as the only solutions it offered to rising crime were to purchase more expensive technologies and hire more Police. Community policing offered the potential for “customer” input and more cost-effective crime prevention approaches based on managing the problems that produce crime, working cooperatively to resolve them with communities themselves and other government agencies.
It should be noted that parallel with the development of community policing, other very punitive approaches to law enforcement have been adopted in the United States. Both federal and state governments have passed laws increasing penalties for certain crimes, particularly drug-related crimes; have passed mandatory sentencing guidelines, reducing judges’ discretion in sentencing; and passed laws such as “three strikes and you’re out,” by which conviction for a third felony automatically results in a life sentence, irrespective of the severity of the offence.
The United States has the most decentralized model of policing in the world, with some 20,000 Police forces ranging in size from one-person departments to the New York City Police department with 32,000 personnel. The U.S. “model” is of limited use for Latin America, where, other than the federal systems in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, a single national Police force is the norm (or a national preventive Police and national judicial Police). Outside the United States, a high degree of Police centralization is common and generally justified by arguments of economy, efficiency, and uniformity of Police policy and practice. But centralization has not impeded community policing. In countries ranging from Singapore and the Netherlands to Australia and France, Police have implemented community policing practices.
COMMUNITY POLICING IN NIGERIA
The relationship between Police and civil community in Nigeria has been considered by many as unfriendly such that the men and officers of the Police institution are often perceived by the public as those without any sense of responsibility, integrity and commitment to duties.
From the evolution and functions of the Nigeria Police, the public Police are often considered as stooges of the state whose loyalties wholly lie with the political elites and their cronies (Alemika E.E.O. (1993). Colonialism, State and Policing in Nigeria. Crime, Law and Social Change, (20) 187-219).
Marenim (Marenim, O. (1985). Policing Nigeria: Control and Autonomy in the Exercise of Coercion. African Studies Review, 28(1): 73-93 ) corroborated the foregoing observing that:
“The Police in their routine work tend to protect the powerful. Police are visible en-masse during ceremonial occasions when they cordon off VIPs from the common folk; they are assigned to guard the homes of the powerful, government buildings, and act as body guards for important officials.
One rarely sees high ranking officer without a Police officer. Police are concentrated in urban areas and within urban areas concentrate on patrolling Government Residential Areas (GRAs) – the home of indigenous and expatriate elites … such practices teach the rank and file who needs protection and who does not, who is entitled to services and whose demand can be rejected”.
In addition, they have always been accused of endemic corruption, human rights abuse, lawlessness, and above all, exhibiting hatred towards the common men (Alemika, 1993,1999; Alemika & Chukwuma, 2000a; Chukwuma, 1994; Nowrojee, 1992; et seq).
Nevertheless, the modus operandi of the Police in colonial era laid the foundation of the continual invocation of strangers policing stranger’s philosophy that till date heralds the relationship between the Police and civil community (Rotimi, K. (2001). The Police in a Federal State: The Nigerian Experience. Ibadan: College Press Limited).
Unfortunately, the enemy image that adorned the relations between the Police and local community in the colonial era has failed to fade away in post-colonial Nigeria as many decades after independence, the Police are yet to change its orientation to a people oriented Police force. However, lack of partnership between Police and community could be said to be one of the major factors responsible for the inability of the Police in the country, to address the growing security challenges bedevilling Nigeria such as incessant armed robbery, ethnic and religious violence, political assassinations, arson, kidnapping, among others.
Since the inception of the Fourth Republic in 1999, in order to contain the security challenges confronting the nation, a number of reforms has been undertaken by Police authorities in the country (Arase, S.E. and Iwuofor, I.P.O. (eds.). (2007). Policing Nigeria in the 21st century. Ibadan: Spectrum Books.), culminating the introduction of community policing in 2004.
One cannot but agree that the adoption of community policing as a security strategy and philosophy by Nigeria Police demands a change in the attitude, tactic and orientation of Police personnel to policing in order to achieve the desired goals of this emergent security approach.
That the importance of community policing cannot be over-emphasized in the management of security in any community, especially as it brings the Police To buttress the foregoing point, Trojanowicz and Bucqueroux (Trojanowicz, R. and Bucqueroux, B. (1990). Community Policing: A Contemporary Perspective. Ohio: Anderson Publishing Co) opined that community policing is a philosophy, which is operated based on the assumption that changes today will make communities safer and more attractive tomorrow. Community Policing: A Descriptive Overview. Australian Institute of Criminology), can be achieved by working together towards shared goals. To this end, it is no exaggeration to assert and community closer and offers a myriad of other benefits.
In Nigeria, community policing was adopted to address the challenges confronting the nation as a result of high crime rate. Beginning from the middle of the 1970s, the incidence of crime in Nigeria has been on rapid increase, reaching a pathological stage.
In an attempt to address the growing problem of insecurity and criminality in Nigeria following the long sojourn of military in Nigerian politics, as well as public suspicion of Police anti-democratic ethos imbibed from colonial experience (Alemika, E.E.O. and Chukwuma, I.C. (2000a).
Police-Community Violence in Nigeria. Lagos: Centre for Law Enforcement Education), President Olusegun Obasanjo in April 2004, initiated Community policing in collaboration with Police authorities under the tutelage of former Inspector General of Police, Mr. Tafa Balogun.
Hence, six states including Benue, Enugu, Jigawa, Kano, Ondo, and Ogun were selected for the pilot scheme. The involvement of people in the pilot states by the Police covered issues of quality service delivery, partnership, accountability, empowerment and problem solving. By 2007, the number of states where community policing was introduced increased to 18, as 12 more states were added to the previous 6. Those additional states included Lagos, FCT (Abuja), Cross River, Kaduna, Anambra, Edo, Bauchi, Kogi, Oyo, Imo, Katsina and Borno.
There is no doubt that community policing has been very effective in crime reduction and control in several countries including the US, Israel, UK, Canada, Japan, to mention a few. In many states in Nigeria, the capacity of the Police to maintain law and order has continued to be undermined by rapidly growing incidence of violent crimes.
Incidences of bank robbery and kidnapping have drastically increased in many parts of Nigeria. For instance in Ogun State, many banks closed down their branches in some parts of the state due to cases of bank robbery, some of which claimed human lives (Newswatch Times (2014 Sept. 23). Banks Shut over Armed Robbers’ Threat in Ogun. Also available on http://www.mynewswatchtimesng.com/banks-shut-armed-robbersthreat-ogun/. Retrieved on 22nd January, 2020).
Without doubts, the attempts by many law enforcement officials to define the term community policing and develop its programs produce a number of non-uniform programs, which vary in terms of both the name and the content of the programs. (Zhao, Z., Thurman, Q. and Lovrich, N.P. (1995).
Community-Oriented Policing Across the US: Facilitators and Impediments to Implementation. American Journal of Police 14(1): 11-28) held that one of the ways of bringing all law enforcement officials to familiarize themselves with community policing is basically through training.
Thus, training and education is an essential element if the implementation of community policing initiatives is to be successful especially as a result of its philosophy, which espouses fundamental changes in many areas of policing. These changes including those that are strategic, tactical, or organizational, not only affect the way the Police respond to crime, but also the way they search for crime solutions.
Palmiotto et al. (Palmiotto, M.J., Birzer, M.L. and Unnithan, N.P. (2000). Training in Community Policing: A Suggested Curriculum. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 23(1): 8-21) opined that, considering the complicated and dynamic nature of community policing, any fundamental changes that community policing as a security management approach may bring must be addressed and discussed thoroughly.
They also suggested that philosophy and fundamentals of community policing should be incorporated into all aspects of Police recruit training. Although, Nigeria Police has continued to train some of its personnel on the workings of community policing from the year 2004, when it was introduced till date but unfortunately there is little evidence shown as to how training affects the way they understand community policing as a security approach.
With the aim of realizing the objectives of community policing, Nigeria Police has therefore identified a number of training needs among which include Conflict Resolution and the Management of Public Order, Management of the Recommended Intelligence Model and Intelligence Analysis, Management of Community Safety, Management of Policing Standards, Accountability and Anti-corruption, Crime investigation, Management of Serious Crime, Recruit Development, Development of a Police Leadership Framework, Development of leadership and Management Skills (Strategic Management and Middle level Management), Management of training function, Financial management and budget preparation, Managing and developing human resources, as well as Management of informal policing training (www.npf.gov.ng/ info/community_ policing.aspx#).
However, in the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja), Kano and Kaduna, Police authorities facilitated training for a number of Intelligence Officers in some of the Police Divisions on the concepts and methods of Intelligence-led Policing (ILP) who would in turn share with their relevant colleagues in their various divisions, the transferable skills generated through the training (www.npf.gov.ng/info/ communitypolicing.aspx#).
Police authorities in the country revealed the importance of such training to security management citing an instance of Gwagwalada in the F.C.T. where it was reported that “a group of cultists were meeting to plan a revenge attack; due to information the Police were able to intervene and prevent the incident.
It is also of note that Police authorities in the country have gone further in their commitment to have positive outcomes from their community policing initiatives by introducing Community Safety Partnership (pilot scheme) in Lagos as a strategy of drawing a synergy between the Police and community, as
“the senior representatives involved – from Local Government, Police, the communities and many other key agencies have made a commitment to work together in the future to gain a full understanding of the local safety issues that affect their communities and work in a partnership to resolve them” (Ibid.).
Among the many challenges confronting Nigeria Police is lack of adequate adoption of the community policing philosophy into its practice as many of the Police personnel are still found entangled with traditional law enforcement approaches, which negate the principle community partnership policing.
Community policing requires many fundamental changes, some of which may include empowerment, partnership, and problem solving, which are necessary for its success. McLaughlin and Donahue (McLaughlin, V. and Donahue, M.E. (1995). Training for Community-Oriented Policing. In Kratcoski, P.C. and Dukes, D. (eds.).
Issues in Community Policing. Cincinnati, OH: Anderson Publishing, pp. 125-38) highlighted a number of challenges that can undermine the potency of the practice of community policing. First, it is important to note that community policing training differs from traditional Police training, which tends to be rigid and strictly conformed to law, policies, and procedures.
Second, it must filter from the top down, meaning that all politicians, city officials, and Police executives involved in the process must understand and support its goals, and that these people should, at some time, attend training. Third, although community policing and traditional Police training require carefully developed lesson plans, apparent differences exist. Components of community policing training take into account specific community needs and the likelihood of success in meeting those needs, therefore requiring updated public input and innovative and proactive thinking on the part of Police planners.
In contrast, traditional Police training is developed in accordance with department protocol and often emphasizes any potential liability issues.
Again, delivery of community policing training must also deviate from the behavioural/teacher-centred to adult education approaches (i.e. learner-centred) because community policing requires Police officers to be more versatile and are human-oriented due to the increasing numbers and magnitude of public Police encounters.
Fourth, it is difficult to determine whether community policing training is used by supervisors and officers, and whether it improves their performance. In other words, proper evaluation is needed to find out whether the Police are implementing the program or just paying lip service.
Undoubtedly, several empirical evidences have shown that practicing community policing without adequate community policing training could greatly compromise the desirable goals. For instance, Kratcoski and Noonan (Kratcoski, P.C. and Noonan, S.B. (1995). An Assessment of Police Officers’ Acceptance of Community Policing. In Kratcoski, P.C. and Dukes, D. (eds.). Issues in Community Policing. Cincinnati, OH: Anderson Publishing, pp. 169-85.) Studied the attitudes of rank-and-file officers from the two Police departments that did not receive community policing training before implementing community policing programs and found that many of the participating officers did not understand community policing programs, and many of the officers’ responses appeared to be guarded, noncommittal, or negative.
The results of their study showed that 63.3 percent of the officers of one department stated the Mini-Station Program was not important and that 60.6 percent of officers of the other department believed the same. They however suggested that training in community policing must be an integral part of the Police academy program. There is no doubt that community policing training is a key factor affecting the success or failure of community policing programs.
Cordner et al. (Cordner, G.W., Craig, B.F., and Wexler, C. (1991). Research, planning and implementation. In W.A. Geller (ed.). Local Government Police Management. Washington, D.C.: International City Management Association. 3rd edition) revealed that resistance within the agency is inevitable as restructuring occurs. During the implementation of any change, employees may feel threatened and seek ways to resist. For instance in Nigeria, it has been noted by Dickson (Dickson, A.Y. (2007).Community Policing. In Arase, S.E. and Iwuofor (eds.). Policing Nigeria in the 21st Century. Ibadan, Spectrum Books) that most of the men and officers of Nigeria Police who have been engaged in community policing training have found it difficult to depart from the traditional ways of doing things especially their relations with their various communities, which are considered not cordial. DFID (DFID-Nigeria’s Security, Justice and Growth Programme (2000).
Community Policing: Frequently Asked Questions) traced some of the reasons for the phlegmatic response and non-cooperation of several Police personnel to community policing in Nigeria as follow:
% Lack of understanding as to the precise nature of Community Policing;
% Vested interest on the part of those benefiting from the status quo;
% A fatalistic attitude involving a belief that change is not possible whilst the Police “rank and file” (i.e. junior personnel, continue to be poorly paid);
% Unwillingness to abandon practices that are familiar in favour of the unknown or uncertain (i.e. feeling threatened by the different operational and managerial competencies required for modern policing);
% Many Police officers and other stakeholders tend to view Community Policing as the development of better community relations managed through a departmental function, rather than a policing philosophy that is focused upon providing best quality service and therefore should inform each and every Police activity; and
% Community policing being mistakenly considered by some as an import from a former colonial power and therefore irrelevant to policing in Nigeria. (DFID, 2000: 11-12).
Dickson (Ibid) argued that the challenges confronting the implementation of community policing in Nigeria cannot be blamed entirely on uncooperative attitude of many Police personnel in the country, stressing that other factors are also responsible for the inability of the nation’s Police to meet the desired goals of community policing in the management of security.
These may include inadequate support from the members of the public, lack of job satisfaction resulting from absence of good welfare packages, motivations and incentives, as well as lack of will on the part of the political elite to provide sufficient support to the implementation of community policing program in the country.
Nevertheless, Cordner (Cordner, G.W. (1998). Community Policing: Elements and Effects. In G.P. Alpert and A. Piquero (eds.). Community Policing: Contemporary Readings. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, pp. 45-62
Sparrow, M.K., Moore, M.H., and Kennedy, D.M. (1990). Beyond 911: A New Era for Policing. New York: Basic Book) opined that, in as much that community policing is aimed at solving security problems, it is important to take into account the practice by personnel throughout the ranks, community input and participation, and collaboration between Police and external agencies whenever possible.
This will be especially true if community policing is incorrectly perceived as being “soft on crime” and as making social service activities the patrol officers’ primary responsibility.
Those at the highest level of command must be aware of the concerns of mid-level managers, who may be particularly sensitive to the shifts in decision making responsibility and to the wider discretion accorded patrol officers. Sparrow et. Al (Sparrow, M.K., Moore, M.H., and Kennedy, D.M. (1990). Beyond 911: A New Era for Policing. New York: Basic Books) emphasized the importance of partnership between Police and community to the management of local security, contending that:
“the Police must move to empower two groups: the public itself and the street officers who serve it most closely and regularly. Only when the public has a real voice in setting Police priorities will its needs be taken seriously; only when street officers have the operational latitude to take on the problems they encounter with active departmental backing will those needs really be addressed”
Community policing alters the contemporary functions of supervisors and managers. Under community policing, management serves to guide, rather than dominate, the actions of patrol officers and to ensure that officers have the necessary resources to solve the problems in their communities.
Indeed, creativity and innovation must be fostered if satisfactory solutions to long-standing community problems are to be achieved. Meese (Meese, E. III. (1991). Community Policing and the Police Officer. Perspectives on Policing.
Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice and John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University) espoused the roles of leadership, management and education in achieving the desired goals of community policing, arguing that: teamwork, flexibility, mutual participation in decision-making, and citizen satisfaction are concepts that initially may threaten the supervisor who is more comfortable with the authoritarian role and routinized operations inherent in traditional policing.
Thus, the education of supervisors in new styles of leadership and management must be given a high priority if they are to carry out their responsibility for the success of community policing.
Keeping all personnel well informed, involving them in ongoing planning and implementation, soliciting their input and suggestions, and encouraging feedback in all areas of implementation are essential to obtaining organization wide support.
Management must instil the agency with a new spirit of trust and cooperation that will be carried over into the relationships between the agency and its community policing partners. There is no doubt that cooperation and influence of management are very essential in gaining support throughout the ranks.
The Police executive shall also be expected to display exemplary leadership in the move to community policing. Change must come from the top down. The behaviour of the chief executive will set the tone and pattern for the entire organization. Sparrow (Sparrow, M.K. (1988). Implementing Community Policing.
Perspectives on Policing. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice and John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University) is of the view that management must create a new, unified organizational outlook, and strategies must be developed to deal effectively with obstacles to change. According to him:
“For the Police it is an entirely different way of life. The task facing the Police chief is nothing less than to change the fundamental culture of the organization.Throughout the period of change the office of the chief executive is going to be surrounded by turbulence, like it or not. It will require personal leadership of considerable strength and perseverance”.
Early mobilization of support for community policing is critical. Internally, Police chiefs must develop support at all levels of the organization; externally, the chief executives of Police must gather support from the local government, public and private agencies, the media, and other policing agencies in any given communities or across the nation.
As a matter of fact, consistent supervision is necessary for effective community policing. There should be close collaboration between patrol officers and their supervisors, and this is critical to successful community policing as well as the partnership between the officer and the community members.
While patrol officers need consistent supervision, according to Oettmeier & Bieck (Oettmeier, T.N. and Bieck, W.H. (1988). Integrating Investigative Operations through Neighbourhood-Oriented Policing: Executive Session #2. Houston: Houston Police Department), it is expected that “the attitude that Police officers must be guided and directed at every turn must be discarded.”
In addition, supervisors should function as mentors, motivators, and facilitators. Community policing broad approach to problem solving can enhance communication and interaction between departmental levels.
If middle career officers are made an integral part of the problem-solving process, they will become another resource for patrol officers, rather than just another level of supervision. Definitely, by acting as liaisons, running interference, and suggesting appropriate auxiliary support, supervisors can help patrol officers respond to a wide variety of service demands.
Suffice, accountability which is very critical to the success of community policing is largely lacking in Nigeria Police. Accountability creates confidence-building in the relationship between the public and Police.
Public tends to have confidence in dealing with Police that upholds principle of human rights protection, standard operations procedure, commitment to bring erring Police men and officers to justice, and treating information volunteering with high confidentiality. Police in Nigeria is awash with allegations of endemic corruption and flagrant abuse of power (Tamuno, T.N. (1970).
The Police in Modern Nigeria. Ibadan: University of Ibadan Press). Alderson (Alderson, J.C. (1979). Policing freedom: A Commentary on the Dilemmas of Policing in Western Democracies. Eastover, Plymouth: Macdonalds & Evans) classified Police corruption into two: individual and departmental.
Individual corruption usually involves individual men and officers of Police using their positions as law enforcement agents for personal aggrandizement. Police corruption can also involve departmental level of commission whereby top hierarchy of the institution partner with junior officers in the perpetration of corrupt practices.
Beyond the rhetoric of “Police is Your Friend”, the attitude of Police is nothing to be desired. Endemic corruption that permeates the entire fabrics of Nigeria Police has reduced the security agency to nothing but public enemy’s commissioned by the state, posing devastating challenge to community policing in the country.
The culpability of official corruption among men and officers of Nigeria Police transcends the brazen impunity that accompanies extortion of motorists and other civilians by low and middle rank Police personnel on the streets and stations who also give return to their superiors (possibly) including Inspector General of Police (IGP).
Police authorities are often alleged of sending their subordinates to ‘Siberia’ (meaning to departments, stations or areas that are not money spinning) for the failure of the affected officers to ‘play ball’ (not remitting adequate returns from the kickbacks collected to the superiors).
For instance, former IGP Tafa Balogun, during whose tenure community policing was introduced, was accused of redeploying Commissioners of Police and other top officers who failed to remit enough booties from their corrupt contraptions to him (The News, Tuesday, July 29, 2003).
Perhaps, among all public sectors, Nigeria Police has emerged the most corrupt (ACBF (The African Capacity Building Foundation). (2007). Institutional frameworks for addressing public sector corruption in Africa: Mandate, performance, challenges& capacity needs. Boulder, Colorado, USA: The African Capacity Building Foundation).
The litany of rights abuse that often accompanies corrupt dealings of the erring men and officers of Nigeria Police has actuated cataloguing habitual violations of human rights by many scholars and organizations (Kasali, M.A. (2010). Basic Security and Security Threats. National Open University of Nigeria).
For instance, Human Rights Watch (2010) presented not only serious allegations levelled against Nigeria Police by victims of Police abuse interviewed but also images of savagery and ruthlessness of armed Police men and officers.
Among the abuses often perpetrated were extortion, unlawful detention, physical abuse including torture, sexual violence while extra-judicial killings appear a regular routine among the Police (Human Rights Watch, 2010). It is very unfortunate that many of these cases of abuse have remained not investigated.
THE TEN PRINCIPLES OF COMMUNITY-BASED POLICING
The ten principles of community-based policing developed by Robert Trojanowicz and Bonnie Bucqueroux (The ten principles of community-based policing developed by Robert Trojanowicz and Bonnie Bucqueroux in Community Policing: A Contemporary Perspective, Anderson Publishing Co., Ohio, 1990).
1. Philosophy and organizational strategy
Community Based Policing (CBP) is both a philosophy (a way of thinking) and an organizational strategy (a way to carry out the philosophy) that allows the Police and the community to work closely together in creative ways to solve the problems of crime, illicit drugs, fear of crime, physical and social disorder (from graffiti to addiction), neighborhood decay, and the overall quality of life in the community. The philosophy rests on the belief that people, the public, deserve input into the Police process, in exchange for their participation and support. It also rests on the belief that solutions to today’s community problems require both the public (communities) and the Police to explore creative, new ways to address neighborhood concerns beyond a narrow focus on individual crime incidents.
2. Commitment to community empowerment
CBP’s organisational strategy first demands that everyone in the Police department, both civilian and sworn personnel [regular Police officers], must investigate ways to translate the philosophy of power-sharing into practice. This demand making a subtle but sophisticated shift so that everyone in the department understands the need to focus on solving community problems in creative ways, that include challenging and enlightening people in the process of what policing entails. CBP implies a shift within the Police organisation that grants greater autonomy (freedom to make decisions) to line officers, which also implies enhanced respect for their judgment as Police professionals. Within the community, citizens must share in the rights and responsibilities implicit in identifying, prioritising, and solving problems, as equal partners with the Police.
3. Decentralized and personalized policing
To implement real CBP, Police organisations must also create and develop a new type of line officer who acts as a direct link between the Police and the people in the community. As the department’s community outreach specialists, CBP officers must be freed from the isolation of the patrol car and the demands of the Police radio so that they can maintain daily, direct, face-to-face contact with the people they serve in a clearly defined beat area. Ultimately, all officers should practice the CBP approach of being visible, accessible and accountable to the people they serve.
4. Immediate and long-term proactive problem solving
The CBP officer’s broad role demands continuous, sustained contact with the law-abiding people in the community, so that together they can explore creative new solutions to local concerns, with private citizens serving as supporters and as volunteers. As law enforcement officers, CBP officers respond to calls for service and make arrests, but they must also go beyond this nevertheless important focus to develop and monitor broad-based, long-term initiatives that can involve all elements of the community in efforts to improve the quality of life. As the community’s representative, the CBP officer also acts as a link to other public and private agencies that can help in a given situation.
5. Ethics, legality, responsibility and trust
CBP implies a new contract between the Police and the citizens they serve, one that offers hope of overcoming widespread apathy while restraining any impulse of vigilantism. This new relationship, based on mutual trust and respect, also suggests that the Police can serve as a catalyst, challenging people to accept their share of responsibility for the overall quality of life in the community. CBP means that citizens will be asked to handle more of their minor concerns themselves, but in exchange, this will free Police to work with people on developing immediate as well as long-term solutions for community concerns in ways that encourage mutual accountability and respect.
6. Expanding the Police mandate
CBP adds a vital, proactive element to the traditional reactive role of the Police, resulting in full spectrum policing service. As the only agency of social control operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the Police must maintain the ability to respond immediately to crises and crime incidents, but CBP broadens the Police role so that they can make a greater impact on making changes today that hold the promise of making communities safer and more attractive places to live tomorrow.
7. Helping those with special needs
CBP stresses exploring new ways to protect and enhance the lives of those who are most vulnerable – youth, the elderly, minorities, the poor, the disadvantaged, the homeless. It both assimilates and broadens the scope of previous outreach efforts such as crime prevention and Police community relations.
8. Grass-roots creativity and support
CBP promotes the judicious use of technology, but it also rests on the belief that nothing surpasses what dedicated human beings, talking and working together, can achieve. It invests trust in those who are at the sharp end of policing, relying on their combined judgment, wisdom, and experience to develop creative new approaches to contemporary community concerns.
9. Internal change
CBP must be a fully integrated approach that involves everyone in the organization, with CBP being an activity of all staff, serving as generalists who bridge the gap between the Police and the people they serve. The CBP approach plays a crucial role internally by providing information about and awareness of the community and its problems, and by enlisting broad-based community support for the department’s overall objectives. Once CBP is accepted as the agreed model and style of policing, all officers should practice it.
10. Building for the future
CBP provides decentralised, personalised Police service to the community. It recognises that the Police cannot impose order on the community from the outside, but that people must be encouraged to think of the Police as a resource that they can use in helping to solve contemporary community concerns. It is not a tactic to be applied and then abandoned, but a new philosophy and organisational strategy that provides the means and flexibility to meet local needs and priorities as they change over time.
THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF AMOTEKUN AS A SECURITY OUTFIT
By the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, (as altered), Nigeria operates a Federal System of government which creates the Federal, State and Local governments.
Similarly, each level of government has its powers allocated to it by the legislative list and the Constitution. Which are the exclusive, concurrent and residual lists. The exclusive legislative list, exclusively reserved for the Federal Government in the Second Schedule Part I of the Constitution which contains the establishment of the Police, Military and other security agencies. Section 214(1) and 215 (1a) & (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as altered) is to the effect that the Nigerian Police Force which is to be commanded by the Inspector General of Police shall be created and under the authority of the President.
Section 214(1) and 215(1a) & (2) provides as follows:
“There shall be a Police Force for Nigeria, which shall be known as the Nigeria Police Force and subject to the provisions of this section no other Police Force shall be established for the Federation or any part thereof”.
There shall be –
(a) An Inspector-General of Police who, subject to section 216 (2) of this Constitution shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Nigeria Police Council from among serving members of the Nigeria police Force;
(2) The Nigeria Police Force shall be under the command of the Inspector-General of Police and any contingents of the Nigeria Police Force stationed in a State shall subject to the authority of the Inspector-General of Police, be under the command of the Commissioner of Police of that State.
However, every state governor is the Chief Security Officer of his state and whose primary responsibility is contained in Section 14 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as altered).
Nigeria as an entity found on the principle of democracy and social justice and which has the security and wellbeing of all persons under the Nigerian government as its primary responsibility as provided for in Section 14(2) (a) – (c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as altered) which reads thus:
(2) It is hereby, accordingly, declared that:
(a) Sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority;
(b) The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of the government; and
(c) The participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.
It is based on this backdrop that Amotekun as a security outfit is put in place to bring about the safety of lives and property in line with the Fundamental Objectives and Principles of State Policy which is the core of democratic governance that has to do with the safeguard of its citizenry.
The Amotekun outfit has its root in the Constitution as it is legal and Constitutional. The combined effect of Section 24 (d) and Section 40 is to the effect that every member of the society has a duty to associate whether as a region or as a state to ensure the security of lives and property.
The right to preserve and protect one’s life can never be in the Exclusive List of any government. For this reason, people employ private security to secure their houses, Community Development Association (CDAs) to secure streets and areas. Are these initiatives in the Exclusive List of the Constitution?
Every Nigerian has a right to self-defence and these individuals can come together to jointly exercise their right to self-defence. It should be noted that each state government represents their citizens in their own states. The rights that each of these citizens in their states can exercise against invaders to their homes can be combined and exercised corporately.
Section 24 (d)(e) provides that:
It shall be the duty of every citizen to –
(d ) make positive and useful contribution to the advancement, progress and well-being of the community where he resides;
(e) render assistance to appropriate and lawful agencies in the maintenance of law and order
In the same vein, Section 40 states thus:
Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests
There has been some apprehension in some quarters that the creation of Amotekun is synonymous with the creation of state Police which is a form of restructuring deeply sort for by the South-West zone.
The question that follows, therefore, is; is operation Amotekun a form of state Police abhorred by our Constitution? It should be noted that, during the official launch of the security network, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) the Governor of Ondo state made it abundantly clear that Operation Amotekun is not an alternative to the Police force but a compliment conventional security outfit.
Amotekun is a holistic security outfit that would be involved in trans-border, intra and inter-state security and will be composed of the regular Police, the National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). The Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) and the local vigilante groups. Being a compliment to the Nigerian Police by way of native intelligence gathering is not illegal under our Constitution or any law whatsoever.
To further buttress the point that Operation Amotekun doesn’t run contrary to any law, it was made known that the personnel of the operation would bear no arms. The outfit is simply an intelligence gathering that will help the Police in no small measure to bring about peace and orderliness in the country.
The South-West Governors have even mandated their leader, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to meet with the Inspector-General of Police on the mode of formal recruitment, command role and operational procedures of operation Amotekun with the Police.
It is widely known that state Governors are often referred to as the Chief Security Officers of the State which they govern and consequently, receive funds running into billions of naira as security votes annually for the sole purpose of funding security services within such states. States in the South-West which have been prone to security challenges have decided to deal with the challenge by way of using the funds set aside by the Federal Government to curb their security challenges.
The creation of Amotekun being such venture anticipated for the disbursement of such funds by the Federal Government to the State.
For all intents and purposes, Operation Amotekun is not different from the Civilian Joint Task Force in the North-East, Hisbah in Kano State and other local vigilante groups in other regions of the country.
Amotekun was created to have a synergy with the Police and is intended to be supervised by the Police and not to be used to abuse citizens.
Those to be engaged will have knowledge of the local terrain, the culture and the language of the people which can assist the Police and other security agencies.
Operation Amotekun is therefore not only constitutional but highly patriotic and should in fact, ought to be emulated by other regions in the country.
THE PROPRIETY OR OTHERWISE OF LEAVING THE ISSUE OF SECURITY ALONE FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
There is no gainsaying the fact that various governments around the world give priority to matters concerning the security of their states. This is evident in the setting up of a plethora of special force agencies, aside the regular Police force, to maintain internal peace and curb external aggression.
In Nigeria, the story is not different. Aside the regular and ubiquitous Nigerian Police force, the Nigerian Army, the Nigeria Navy etc. Other special security agencies such as the Defence Intelligence Agency, The National Intelligence Agency and the State Security Service have been put in place to strengthen and enhance the security fabric of the nation.
The above agencies notwithstanding, the sad recent occurrences as depicted by the politically motivated killings have raised many eyebrows and put a huge question mark to the viability and dexterity of purpose of the Nigerian Police force and other related security agencies.
It appears that the Nigerian Police and other security agencies have been forced by gun wielding, fire eating and dare devil armed robbers to eat the humble pile. Pen-slinging corporate rogues and other advanced fee fraudsters complete the routing. The Nigerian Police force finds its self buckling under the superior fire power of the armed robbers and the well contrived and complex plots of sophisticated fraudsters.
The federal government has the exclusive jurisdiction on matters bothering on security of the nation. Security apparatus and any of its agencies fall under the part 1 of the 2nd schedule of the 1999 Constitution (The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as altered).
However, in recent years there has been continuous call for the creation of state Police to aid federal government in solving or mitigating the serious security challenges facing Nigeria. Nigeria operates a federal system of government and ordinarily in the spirit of true federalism ought to have embraced the concept of state policing a long time ago.
The manpower provided by the federal government has not been enough to safeguard the lives and properties of its citizens. The Nigerian Police force is the principal law enforcement agency in Nigeria with staff strength of about 371,800 in a country where the number of its citizens is over 180 million.
Nigeria is composed of 36 states and 774 local governments, each local government divide into towns, each town divided into villages, each village further divided into communities and each communities divided into clans. In view of the above, federal government cannot be reasonably expected with the current number of security agencies to provide adequate security for the country.
Consequently, the need for state policing cannot be overemphasised.
The call for state policing has been resonating in Nigeria for years, due to the realisation that the Nigeria Police, as presently constituted cannot handle the increased demands of law enforcement in the criminal justice system.
The learned Senior Advocate of Nigeria Chief Mike Ozekhome, in support of the Amotekun project stated that “there is hardly a state in Nigeria today that does not have one vigilante group or the other. They are all meant to take care of the security of such states. Within a federal system of government, each federating unit is supposed to be independent and autonomous within its territorial area (thenigerialawyer.com).
The Human Right Activist went further to state that ‘when power meets power, then there will be mutual respect. Mutual respect will come in when aggressors know that they will meet with equal force with the aggressee”.
PROBLEMS FACING THE NIGERIA POLICE
The Nigeria Police is faced with several problems some of which include, nepotism, ethnicism, corruption, institutional weaknesses such as inadequate manpower (both in strength and expertise), insufficient education and training, inadequate equipment and poor conditions of service of the average Policeman , poor public relations between subordinate and superior officers, lack of public cooperation, Constitutional problem that put the whole country’s Police under the Presidency, and most recently, the poor perception of Police by both Police officers and the public (Ibeanu, 0 (2007) “Criminal Justice Reforms: Policing Services Delivery”, in Reforming For Justice, ed. Joseph Chu ma Otteh, Apapa: Access to Justice).
These problems have hindered, to a very large extent, the ability of the Nigeria Police to perform their functions effectively. However, in the 1990s and 2000 to 2003 several efforts have been made to reform the Police and to address some of these problems especially in areas of staff recruitment, purchase of equipment and provision of logistics particularly transportation and remuneration.
Despite all efforts by the government, the Nigeria Police Force still struggles in its ability to perform their primary responsibility of fighting. There is alarming increase in crime rate and corruption within the force is still endemic, thereby leading to public distrust of Police officers.
The public looks at Police officers with scorn, distrust and suspicion. They do not consider them as friends and allies in the fight against crime but rather as enemies on the side of the criminals (Ibid).
Due to this poor perception of the Police, the public are reluctant to provide any form of support or cooperation to the Police. This lack of trust in the Police often leads to a resolve by the public not to cooperate with them in crime fighting, and sometimes resort to lynching of suspects by angry mobs (Igbo, 1999: 130).
In fact, the relationship between the Police and the public is very often characterized by brutality, confrontation, and exploitation (Ibid).
The introduction of state Police into Nigerian policing system has been widely suggested as the only solution for the curbing of the incessant security issues in the country. The mantra has gained popularity as a result of the surge in the highly sophisticated crimes in the country and the inability of the federal Police command to contain the challenges.
The Police is primarily empowered to maintain law and order, civil obedience and prevention of anarchy. But in recent years, in view of the numerous security challenges faced in the country, the Police has been seemingly overwhelmed and overpowered and it is in serious need of any help it can get.
Flowing from this, the inspector general of Police has in different forum advocated for the indispensable need of community policing in order to help and support the Police in achieving its primary aim.
Notably among the incessant security threats we are faced as a nation are the Boko Haram insurgency in the north which has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of lives. Before the coming in of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, Boko Haram was in control of 3 local governments and have their flags hoisted on those areas. Sometime in 2014, over 200 students were kidnapped and till date some are yet to regain their freedom yet. In the west, there have been repeated clashes between herdsmen and farmers. In the south, militancy reigned supreme. In the east, there has been high level of kidnappings and armed robbery.
The federal government have in many of these cases failed to curb many of these security problems till date. This is why there is need to devolve the security structure to involve the state regional government in the policing of their states through community policing.
Community policing is designed to assist the Police in intelligence gathering, finding out criminal hideouts and reporting suspicious activities and movements to the Police. Community policing is a concept that is new to the Nigeria Police Force.
It was not until the early 2000 that the concept started becoming popular in Nigeria. The Nigeria Police Force before the advent of community policing operated on a traditional British semi-military structure of policing that stresses the centralization of powers.
This principle of centralization of power is antithesis to the philosophy of community policing that emphasizes decentralization of power. Although, community policing is new in Nigeria, however in the Western world, particularly the United States, the principle has already gained popularity since the late 1970s.
Its philosophy emphasizes partnership, proactive policing and decentralization of power. Community Policing stresses that by working together the Police and the community can accomplish what neither can accomplish alone.
Community policing is a philosophy that emphasizes working proactively with citizens in order to prevent crime and to solve crime-related problems. Partnership is a key element of Community Policing because the Police and the public must partner together in order to adequately fight crime.
This will involve the Police relinquishing some of their powers to the community so that they can become the eye of the Police in the neighbourhoods. This can only be achieved if the Police earn the trust of the community.
However, where there is distrust between the Police and the public such a vision becomes unrealistic. Since its introduction, community policing has achieved very little result in Nigeria, especially in the area of partnership between the Police and the community due to public distrust of the Police and the inability of the Police to share some powers with the public.
Community policing brings Police and citizens together to prevent crime and solve neighbourhood problems. With community policing, the emphasis is on stopping crimes before it happens, not responding to call for service after the crimes occurs.
Community policing give citizens more control over the quality of life in their community together in partnership, the community and Police department work together to achieve a common goal of a safer and better place to live. Which was what operation Amotekun was set up to achieve.
The partnership which develops over time can ultimately help the Police find the underlying causes of crime within the neighbourhood. One of the advantages of community policing is that it introduces fear in the community. With an increase in Police presence in the neighbourhood, residents feel more secured; this feeling of security helps the Police to establish trust within the community.
The importance of state Police in different state of the federation is that communities differ along religious, ethnic and cultural lines. A plan may work in one state and same may not work in other states. Community policing allows the community to come up with solutions that will work within their neighbourhood and to change and eliminate those that do not work. Without the trust and involvement of the community, any attempt at community policing will fail.
Flowing from this, operation Amotekun can be said to have come at the right time with its limitless advantages to solve the peculiar security situations confronting the region simultaneously working hand in hand with the Nigerian Police force. No country operating a federal system of government should reserve security of lives and properties to the federal government alone.
COMMUNITY POLICING UNDER THE GUISE OF ETHNIC MILITIAS OVER THE YEARS
Over the years, ethnic militias as vigilante groups have emerged in communities and cities across the country ostensibly to combat rising crime waves in the face of the inability of the Police to effectively deal with armed robbery and other violent crimes.
Investigation, shows that those operation date back to 1988 during the tenure of the military government of Borno State, Lt Col Abdul One Muhammed, who introduced what he called ‘Operation Sunlight”. The operation was made up of detectives and vigilante groups with mandate to arrest and prosecute robbery suspects. Apparently, the government found the judicial process rather slow and boring.
The government later reconstituted the squad to form another code-named “Operation Damisa” (Hausa name for leopard) made up of men drawn from the army, the Police and civil defence groups who acted as informants.
Community policing has always existed with Nigeria under the guise of ethnic militias. Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) in his article ‘Constitutional Authority of the Private Security Officer’, made several references to community policing and further made examples, some of which are:
“Operation Zaki” was the code-name assigned to a brutal hit squad comprised of the army and civilian vigilante groups set up by the military government of Borno State in response to the menace of armed robbery in the state. Its mandate was to shoot at sight any person (rightly or wrongly) suspected to be a robber.
A spine chilling account of the activities of the squad as given by a nurse who witnessed the killing of seven suspects at Damagun General Hospital Maiduguri read thus:
“they (referring to the zaki squad) came here (the hospital), late last year with about six suspects, in a pick-up van. They ordered everybody around to stay away. Soon the suspects were told to lie face down and I was horrified to watch the bodies wriggle to the numerous bullets that are being pumped into them by soldiers (about four of them).”
The mass killing of people in the name of Operation zaki has continued in spite of the protest from human rights organizations and other concerned members of the public.
THE O’DUA PEOPLE CONGRESS (OPC)
The OPC was formed during the dark and brutal era of repressive military dictatorship presided over by General Sani Abacha. It was an ethnic response to the perceived persecution of Yoruba people under the military regime. This persecution was believed to have culminated in the annulment of the June 12 presidential election apparently won by Chief M.K. O. Abiola, a Yoruba.
For the OPC, a Sovereign National Conference is inevitable if the different ethnic and social components of Nigeria will continue to co-exist under one united Federal State devoid of Oppression, Marginalisation and other injustice.
But the OPC has meddled into vigilante activities and is perceived to be effective in using unorthodox means to fish out and eliminate criminals. For this reason, the group has often clashed with the Police who believe that the OPC is usurping their traditional roles or Constitutional functions. The Police also accuse the OPC of excesses of resorting to lawless methods and killing innocent people.
On the other hand, the OPC accuse the Police of colluding with and aiding criminals. They allege that when suspects are arrested and handed over to the Police, they take bribe from the suspects, release them and they turn on their captors with a vengeance.
There had been regular bitter and bloody clashes between the OPC and the Police on the one hand and the Police and civil society on the other hand. These bitter encounter have resulted in enormous casualties on either side.
THE BAKASSI BOYS
Historically, Bakassi was a child of necessity. When armed robbery rose to a level unprecedented in history of Aba, Abia State and another group of young vandals who call themselves the Mafia, held Aba hostage, the Police was unable to protect life and property in that commercial town. The traders who were the worst victims set up a resistance force which countered the armed robbers and the Mafia. They triumphed. That was the birth of Bakassi.
Bakassi Boys is a group made up of artisans (mainly shoe makers) and traders in Ariaria Market extension, Aba (called Bakassi). They organized themselves into a citizen-initiated vigilante group called the Bakassi Boys. Suspected criminals who hitherto freely menaced the city and its environs were fished out, “tried in the Bakassi “Court” and those convicted had their arms, legs and head chopped off with machetes before being burnt.
One month after the Bakassi operation started, calm and normalcy were reported to have returned to the city. The Bakassi Boys apprehended and brought back to Aba to face ‘trial’ pursued suspects who reportedly fled to neighbouring cities and villages.
Onitsha and Nnewi in Anambra State on the other hand became uninhabitable as a result of the menace of armed robbers and liability of the Nigerian Police force to live up to their Constitutional duty except in name. Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju- the governor quickly extended an invitation to the crime bursting outfit. The lawyer-governor who declared himself as the commander-in-chief of the Bakassi Boys observed thus:
“We heard of the exploits of Bakassi Boys in Aba, we went and invited them. Within three four weeks, things changed Rather than the armed robbers chasing us around, we found Ourselves on the offensive. Now the robbers are on the run”.
THE EGBESU BOYS
These boys represent the Niger Delta area of Nigeria. The Niger-Delta area has witnessed a lot of crises in recent years. These crises center on effects of oil exploration and exploitation and demand for resources control and compensation by the people of the Niger-Delta. These issues have been accompanied with a lot of youth restiveness manifesting in cases of kidnapping and hostage taking of oil workers.
A study revealed that the causes of youth restiveness in the Niger Delta include lack of youth development programmes by government, activities of multinational companies; lack of youth participation in policy and decision making; poverty, unemployment, oppression and marginalistion; insensitively of government to demands of the youth; mistrust of elders; environmental pollution; domination by major ethnic groups, unitary nature of Nigeria’s political system and lack of control of natural resources.
With the above problem facing the Niger Delta, it necessitated the birth of the Egbesu Boys.
AMOTEKUN AS A TOOL FOR COMMUNITY POLICING IN THE SOUTH-WEST REGION
For Amotekun to have an inroad in Nigeria, the Nigeria Police force must have a complete paradigm shift from its traditional model of policing to a more community oriented policing that stresses community partnership, decentralization of powers, and proactive policing. The policing model should be that of partnership with less emphasis on regulatory powers and sanctions with greater reliance upon compromise and cooperation that would serve the public better rather than the traditional model of policing. More importantly, the Police must improve its public image so that they can earn public trust. This can only be achieved when they show a caring attitude towards the public rather than use of brutal force on them and demanding for money before services are delivered.
What distinguishes private security services from the public Police is that the former operates almost always in private premises, behind the traditional and legal boundary which the Police cannot lawfully cross unless by invitation or in other special circumstances. There are places where the public Police may not, cannot or will not work or where they are not welcome. There are also many restrictions and regulations surrounding them that do not constrain their private counterparts. Private security services are therefore arguable a broader enterprise than public policing, with a wider range of functions, which is important to keep in mind.
Amotekun as a tool for community policing could not have come at a better time in view of the security situation of the country and the clear and glaring inability of the current security apparatus in the country to be at par with the security threats which has faced the country over the years.
In every society a certain amount of security is produced without actually being paid for, for instance through private interests such as etiquette or the need to feel secure. Criminology scholars have found that there are three basic ways that people respond to the threat of crime:
1) restricting their own property,
2) creating physical and psychological barriers to potential offenders, eg better locks, fences, alarm systems and insurance, and
3) joining others in active efforts to prevent crime. Self-policing community solutions such as neighbourhood watches are common features of modern urban life.
Many of these private precautions benefit the parties who take them, but that does not necessarily mean that they benefit society in general. The fact that one citizen is safer does not give more safety to other citizens. If precautions are not known until after a crime has taken place, as much policing and crime will affect the ‘secure’ people as the ‘insecure’ But with ex-ante observable precautions (such as window-bars, dogs and lights) the criminals, who are most likely to quickly respond to obvious precautions, will concentrate on areas without these protection devices.
Amotekun, as a tool for community policing, seeks to tackle the security unrest, especially but not limited to the kidnappings, incessant farmer/herder clashes, armed robbery and thuggery in the region. This can be effectively done with the assistance and cooperation of the members of the community who will readily repose trust in a security structure which they are part and parcel of. For Nigeria to combat the security issues it is faced with, more regions must adopt this security outfit as its advantages in more ways, outweighs the disadvantages it could ever bring.
THE SECURITY ISSUES INVOLVED IN THE CREATION OF AMOTEKUN
The major criticism on Amotekun is that it is a regional security outfit. Furthermore, there is no gainsaying that the major disadvantage of state or community policing is the likelihood of abuse by state governors. It is feared that state Police may be used as a tool for political, religious, economic and even regional gains.
That notwithstanding, taking a cue from other jurisdictions who have practised and are still practising these form of policing, the legislature can make laws, establishing this policing system, its command role, structure and mode of recruitment in a view to ensuring the smooth running, independence and total dedication of this security system to its aims and objectives.
The merits of community policing completely outweighs the demerits. For this reason, its structure must be holistically examined to ensure that it is fool proof, it serves the interest of the people which is its primary objective.
The security of one’s life and property cannot and should not be exclus