Until community policing gets official support in Nigeria, nobody should hope to be safe from armed bandits. I have, for many years now, advocated community policing backed by intelligence gathering in this age of ICT as the best way to tackle criminals. Perhaps nobody has been listening. But as I was about to write this, I stumbled upon a statement issued by the police spokesman in Abuja, Mr Olabisi Kolawole, in which the inspector-general of police, Mr Solomon Arase, was quoted as saying that intelligence-led policing is the ultimate for Nigeria. The IGP said so when a delegation from the National Identity Management Commission visited him.
Why, one would ask, have all the biometric data capture, phone line registration, new vehicle licence, national identity card and bank verification number done so far failed to curtail kidnapping for ransom, car snatching, armed robbery, 419 fraud, smuggling, terrorism and similar crimes that assail Nigerians today? Is anybody really concerned about protecting ordinary Nigerians from evil people?
I can testify to the police’s lack of preparedness because I’ve been a victim of several crimes. And my friend, Mr Steve Nwosu, has just had a bitter experience. In both cases of armed robbery attack, calls to police hotlines were ignored until long after the bandits had escaped. Nwosu’s wife’s abductors called him several times on registered (?) phone lines; has the GSM providers traced the owners of the numbers? One of the robbers that attacked my family almost three years ago was using the line 08170129453 between November 2012 and February 2013; Glo made no effort to trace the owner until the hoodlum threw away the SIM card. Kidnappers have been receiving ransom payments through Nigerian banks. Stolen cars are re-registered at the VIO and FRSC with ease.
Is IGP Arase interested in community policing or what is known as “neighbourhood watch” elsewhere? He should start by posting men of the 400, 000-strong Police Force to their home communities. Let each of the 10, 000 people to be recruited soon live and work in their communities. Then, every policeman from the rank of constable to ASP should follow.
A community, to me, is any place everyone knows almost everyone else. All criminals are known in their communities. With good intelligence, they could be rounded up in just one day.
– By ANIEBO NWAMU