* Laments spare of insecurity, underfunding of NPF
*Makes case for regional policing as strategy in curbing insecurity
*Cautions politicians on Nigeria’s unity
SOLOMON Arase is Nigeria’s 18th Inspector General of Police, IGP who served from April 2015 to June 21, 2016 following his mandatory retirement from the police force after 35years of service. In this interview with Vanguard, he spoke on funding of the Nigeria Police and regional policing as one of the strategies in tackling insecurity in the country.
Nigeria at 60
We should be grateful that for the past 60 years, we have been able to stay together despite the various misgivings here and there. When you have a multiplicity of groups coming together to form a nation like what we have, the issues are always very complicated. In trying to manage our diversities, we have tried a lot, even though there are still some gaps that need to be filled but we hope the political class will be able to look at the big picture in dealing with our issues of diversities.
However, there are enormous potentials in this country, not just in terms of our natural and mineral resources but our human resources inclusively. We should be able to harness these resources and be able to deploy in a way that it will be beneficial to the whole country.
Talking about a united Nigeria, my only advice is that we must be ideological in our thinking and the way we play politics particularly in the arrangement of our political parties where most of the leaders actually lack ideologies. Personally, I’m yet to see or hear the Republicans or the Democrats in the United States of America jumping ship when they lost elections or the Conservatives or Labour and other parties in the United Kingdom jumping ship whenever they lose power. They actually stand for something based on their ideological bent. But here in Nigeria what do our political parties actually stand for?
Funding of the Nigeria Police
As a country we have contending demands. People are talking about the need for good roads and good hospitals, especially with the pandemic and they are also talking about access to potable water and the general welfare of all Nigerians. So if you put all these infrastructural demands together side-by-side the demands in funding the security sector, you will discover that the police can never have enough.
Especially with the challenges of the insurgency and the Military confronting them in the northeastern part of the country, but the truth about this is that if you don’t deal decisively with security issues, then it will cascade into other international security challenges.
Presently we are dealing with high rates of unemployment, kidnapping, banditry, cultism, insurgency and a host of other crime related issues. You will discover that if you don’t reinforce your security apparatus, it means that foreign direct investment will not come into your country as people will be discouraged to invest and this will have a direct effect on the unemployment rate and other crimes will continue to soar in line with the saying that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop as crimes will generally increase exponentially and that is why it is always good that most governments try to prioritize security.
Also the issue of crime has become scientific; hence the approach of the police to crime should also be scientific with crime becoming more attractive. There should be consequences for every criminal act, because when you arrest persons in this case criminals for a particular crime, for example armed robbery or kidnapping, there should be consequences for such crimes. When you know that if you commit a crime you are going to be caught and the criminal justice system will be activated against you, it will serve as a deterrent to crime in the society.
How are Police Divisions funded?
It’s not as if they do not send allocations to the divisions, but the issue on ground is the inadequacy of these allocations. Can these allocations enable them buy fuel for their petrol vans? Can these allocations enable them buy writing materials to take statements and for their administrative duties? The fact remains that these allocations are not adequate in running the divisions.
The problem we have with the Nigeria Police is that from 1999 till date we have had three police reforms commissions set up by the Federal Government to look at all these issues you are talking about including funding. Admittedly the Nigeria Police Force falls under the exclusive legislative list of the government, meaning it’s the Federal Government that is supposed to fund the police, but there have also been funding allocations from the local and state governments.
Again, yes, some state governments have been doing that talking about funding of the police till date by buying vehicles and other infrastructural needs of the police in their state, but these arrangements need to be properly structured.
However, the implementation of these reforms alongside the respective implementation strategies proffered, has been the main challenge that the police is actually facing in respect of where the various levels of government talking about states and local councils ought to fit in regarding funding of the various police divisions or state commands in their jurisdictions.
This has also given rise to the call for state or regional police because some states actually feel or think they are doing more in regards to funding the police in their respective areas.
For example, a state like Delta has Operation Delta Hawk; Lagos has the Rapid Response Squad with other states having their respective security interventionist outfits. So, all these interventions are being set up to complement the inadequacies of the federal policing structure.
Way forward on funding for the Police
Though the Police Act actually talks about some of the functions and powers of the police in policing, the act itself is a statutory directive of how the police duties and responsibilities can be carried out. How those powers can be exercised, basically it is an order and directive of how policing functions can be carried out, but on the way forward, what we need to do is to take a look again at these reforms, look at them in the short-term, the medium-term and the long-term. See how we can harmonize them together and how we can have some form of practical implementation of the reform recommendations of the police as a whole.
State of insecurity
The state of insecurity today in the country is clear for everyone to see. We have issues of terrorism in the North East, we also have issues of banditry in Zamfara state, in Kaduna state, and we have issues of herdsmen and farmers clashes, and other various clashes in Jos, Taraba and Benue states. In the South East state you have separatist agitation by IPOB MASSOB while in the South-South, issues of kidnapping, armed-robbery and cultism are prevalent.
The spate of insecurity in the country is spanning all over the place. Though I’m not trying to be judgmental of people, capacity and issues based on the fact that I was one time a security manager in the country, but any opportunity I have, I usually want to proffer solutions to the existential threat presenting confronting the country.
Solution to Nigeria’s insecurity
First and foremost we have to agree that we face issues of serious social disorders because it’s when you agree that you have a problem, that’s only when you can find a solution to that problem. We are actually in a country where everybody believes he or she is a security astrologer even though they are a Lilliputian in the field. But there are actually some people who can take you up on security issues and proffer knowledgeable solutions on such issues.
However there is regional arrangement in dealing with some commonalities in crime, hence you see the South West propagating for Amotekun. We had actually experimented with this idea on regional solution to common crimes when I was an IG in the North West and North Central states when they had issues of cattle rustling in the region. What they did was that they pulled their resources together and had a common command control structure to deal with the issue and that is actually a regional approach to the situation.
If you look at the southern states for example, the typologies of crimes around the region are similar, both in terms of content and implication. So the governors in the region could come together, pull their resources together both in terms of men and materials to deal with their security challenges, and that is an effective approach in combating criminal activities and preventing crime dispersal.
Another is to ask, are there consequences of crime? And this is in respect to those who have been arrested for one crime or the other talking about kidnapping or armed robbery. You are supposed to professionally investigate and prosecute them. There must be a symbiotic relationship between crime prevention, crime detection and prosecution.
You don’t just arrest people and parade them on television without following up with proper investigation and prosecution. It gives the populace the psychological reassurance that you have a potent law enforcement establishment in the country. The police needs to do its job with sufficient evidential proof through persecution, so that the judiciary could promptly deal with the issues before them.
Though there are various strategies such as community policing, intelligence-led policing, perspective policing, neighbourhood policing, predictive policing, but regional security is one of the strategies that the police can use in curbing the rising spate of insecurity in the country today. So, as a police force, you cannot be fastidious with one particular strategy, but it could be an admix of strategies mentioned above.
Summarily speaking, regional security is one of the strategies that the police can use in curbing the rising spate of insecurity in the country today. As a police force you cannot be fastidious with one particular strategy, it will not work. Regional approach to security can be very effective with the assistance of the federal police. They can complement what the federal police is doing as the police cannot do it alone.