Community policing has been given a boost following the training of para -military agencies to combat crime in Lagos State.
The two-day workshop was organised by the Justice For All (J4A) in collaboration with the British Department for International Development.
More than 20 personnel from the Neighborhood Watch, vigilantes and other community based outfits from Agege Local Government Area received intensive training from seasoned security experts, among whom was a retired Commissioner of Police Mr. Frank Odita.
The workshop, which was conducted at the CLEEN Foundation office at Ojudu from March 26 to 27, 2012 also provided the participants the opportunity to network with professionals on tackling rural crime and violence.
Dr. E. Eban, one of the lecturers at the workshop, spoke on security and human rights, stating that community-based security outfits have a vital role in checking crime and criminality.
“Security is not determined by how available guns and weapons are. It is about creating the enabling environment that will make the use of violence unnecessary,” Eban said.
Eban added that the fundamental human rights of Nigerians have been infringed upon due to government’s failure to provide adequate security, adding: “Security is a social contract and it is the principal responsibility of the state through the government to provide security for all citizens, individual, groups and corporate organisations. In return, the citizens give loyalty to the state as they give up their rights to secure themselves to the state. Sadly, there is huge outcry for soft security, which is security of the basic necessities of food, housing, clothing, dignity, protection from poverty, exploitation, disease, injustice, which can be ensured by proving the enabling environment for people to get their means of livelihood. That contract stated that if the government fails in this social contract, the citizens seeks to regain their rights to secure themselves (self-help) and this is conductive for anarchy and violation of human rights.”
Speaking on practical security management skills, Odita hailed the acting Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, for dismantling the police checkpoints while stating that indiscipline, especially at the checkpoints, is the bane of the Nigeria Police Force.
Odita said: “The ‘DIET’ of a policeman is first Discipline. If you are not disciplined, you are rotten. Discipline attracts respect. ‘I’ is for Integrity. ‘E’ for Enlightenment while “T” is for Tactical. With this ‘DIET’ any policeman is ready for the job.”
Odita also admonished the participants to carry out their jobs of securing lives and property with human face, saying: “Any person wearing a security uniform is a policeman and the police officer’s first duty is not just to carry out arrest but to prevent crime.”
Speaking on arrest and detention of suspects, Odita said: “Arrest will involve the use of minimal force and the obedience to respect human rights; the force applied must be commensurate with the force threatened.”
The participants expressed gratitude to the organisers of the workshop, while urging the government to play the lead role in providing capacity and training for community-based security outfits.
“This training will go a long way in assisting us in community policing. The training has opened our eyes on how to effectively and professionally combat crime in our vicinity. A lot of this training is done by NGOs and private outfits so it is good for government to get to the grassroots and carry out training for the local vigilante because we are closer to the people,” Abayomi Adewale, the Vice Chairman of the Vigilante Group from Isale-Oja, Agege said.
Morufu Kelani, the Head of the Neighbourhood Watch at Dopemu, Agege said the workshop will assist his members to perform their job effectively.
Kelani said: “We have a lot of intelligence on black spots in our neighbourhood and with this training, we can work effectively with the police in carrying out our job professionally as our aim is stamping out crime. This knowledge we have acquired will be taken back to impact on other members who are not here.”