The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, on Wednesday, blamed the rising crime rate in the country on state and local governments, calling on all and sundry to partner with the law enforcement agencies to curb the menace. Speaking with the media after a lengthy closed-door meeting with the Senate at the National Assembly complex, Abuja, Adamu averred that since security was the responsibility of all Nigerians, those at the helms of affairs at state and local government levels should endeavour to arrest crimes in their respective communities. He said: “What we are saying essentially with regard to community policing is that fighting crimes should not be left to the law enforcement agencies alone. Everybody should be on board. What are the things that lead to the commission of crimes? Are those issues to be dealt with by the law enforcement agencies and security agencies? No, there are other arms of governments that will need to deal with them. State governments, governors, local government chairmen should take up their responsibilities. People that are committing these crimes have reasons that make them commit the crimes. If it is lack of employment or education or those issues that would require interventions by the government, those state governments should take responsibility. All local government chairmen should take responsibility, not that everything should be left to the security guys alone.”
The IGP, giving a feedback on his encounter with senators, said that community policing held a lot of promise in detecting and exposing crime and criminality. According to him, “the concept is to give policing back to the community and let the community take the initiative in identifying the problems that are there, that can lead to the commission of crimes, and then we work with the community to solve the crime.We believe that everybody comes from the community. As you all know, in a community, we know who and who is there, so taking policing back to them will help in reducing crime to the barest minimum. I have explained the concept of community policing to the Senate; it involves partnership with communities. You can have traditional institution as a community, National Union of Road Transport Workers as a community, you can have the media as a community, and various forms of community that we need partnership with. When we talk about the partnership, we are talking about problem-solving. We need to solve problems that are in the community. What we mean here is that we scan the community to find out the indices that can lead to the commission of crimes, or the crimes that have been committed already and we analyse the problems and then we look for the solutions.”
If the comments by the police boss highlight anything, it is the fact that policing in the country is in need of comprehensive overhaul. To say the least, the Nigerian Police Force, as presently constituted, cannot effectively police the country. The IGP is therefore quite in order in suggesting that policing be made a community affair. To the extent that the link between criminality and social inequality is well established in the country, the IGP’s challenge to state governors and local government chairmen in the country ought to be taken seriously. The evidence is clear that as the country’s top police officer with a rich resume of experience spanning decades, the IGP is conversant with the fact that bad governance at state and local government levels in the country had fuelled series of unrest and social dislocations. However, his prognosis is based on the very defective extant order and therefore incapable of actualising the change that he envisages.
Community policing, as conceptualised by the police boss, can never be the solution to the perennial security challenges confronting the country, precisely because it is built on the same faulty foundation that has hobbled policing in the country. Time and again, we have stressed the fact that an ethnically, linguistically and geo-politically complex society like Nigeria cannot realistically expect to be policed centrally. If and when they come into being, the community policing units that IGP Adamu spoke so glowingly about would be controlled by the existing police high command whose failures have led to wanton shedding of blood across the country. It is certainly unrealistic to expect that a unit which draws sustenance from Abuja can do the same job in, say, Ikorodu in Lagos State or Shendam in Plateau State, as one which draws both its formation and sustenance from the political leadership of those communities anchored on the dictates of the federal system of government. We state, without any equivocation, that any form of “community policing” which does not derive from a template of federalism will not just fail, but fail spectacularly.
And so, once again, we reiterate our stand that only a combination of federal, regional and state policing funded and controlled at the respective tiers of government can deliver the results that the country sorely needs and that the citizenry anxiously await. A state governor who has no control over a police force formed through a law enacted by the state house of assembly is a mere glorified errand boy of the Federal Government. By the same token, no local government chairman in the country should need federal approval before seeing to the security and welfare of the communities over which he or she presides. Here, too, the inevitability of state policing is in focus.
We appreciate the concern shown by IGP Adamu over the worsening security situation in the country. We however call on the leadership of the National Assembly and the various state houses of assembly to expedite work on regional and state policing in order to complement the no doubt arduous responsibilities of the NPF. They must act fast.