Effective Community Policing and Electoral Challenges in Nigeria: The Role of Police Assistance Committee, Association of Tradesmen / women & Artisans
All Protocols Observed:-
It is a great honour and privilege in my capacity as the Director-General of the Police Assistance Committee of Nigeria, and its affiliate, Association of Tradesmen / women and Artisans, on security challenges confronting our country. There cannot be a better time than now to stage a security summit on the role of our security agencies, particularly the Nigeria Police during our electioneering process. As a civil force, the Nigeria Police Force usually have more responsibility and functions to perform during our elections, hence it is necessary to discuss and analyze their expected role while conducting elections in the country.
My presentation will dwell on the topic: “Effective Community Policing and Electoral Challenges in Nigeria”: The Role of Police Assistance Committee / Association of Tradesmen & Artisans” This topic is very important for my organization since most of our actions and activities revolve around community policing.
The modus operandi of PAC / ATA centres on grassroots mobilization of our members to carry out the function of gathering information / intelligence to assist the police and other security agencies in the performance of their duties, which in itself is a function of community policing.
It is in this light that I shall speak extensively on how we have been mobilizing our members at grassroots level to assist our security agencies through information dissemination, with our large membership spreading across the entire country. Our performance in this respect has been largely due to our training programmes through seminars / workshop which we constantly organize for members where we usually involve the security agencies as resource people to interact with and impact knowledge to our members.
What is Community Policing?
Simply put, Community Policing is the involvement of the Communities i.e. the general public at the grassroot level to keep watch of their local environment to monitor what transpires and gather information which can be forwarded to security agencies. It is a practice that encourages everybody to be security conscious to buttress the notion that security should be the business of everyone. If community policing is well adhered to whereby everybody is constantly conscious of what goes on in their respective communities, it will go a long way in making the job of our security agencies much easier as they will always have information to work with in addressing our security challenges.
Application of Community policing to address Security Challenges
Community policing can be effectively applied as a tool to address our security challenges since criminals are no ghosts as they live within the communities. What needed to be done mainly is for all of us to be well observant in monitoring what goes on around us. What transpires with our next door neighbor should be of major concern to us, which will certainly make all f us informants to our security agencies. Once we can all apply this rule of being a watchdog within our immediate neighborhoods, there will be no hiding place for criminals. The life style of our neighbours should be our concern in the sense that when strange things begin to happen which can draw suspicion we must not hesitate to pass information to the police or other security agencies to keep watch and investigate such neighbours.
When strange people or new faces come into our neighborhoods, it should be a concern to us to draw attention of our security apparatus to such development. By so doing, we will be applying community policing to a large extent in addressing our security challenges.
Global Perspective of Community Policing
Globally, community policing has been a major tool to solving criminality. In fact, what makes policing in the western world, particularly in United Kingdom and United States of America very interesting Is traceable to effective application of community policing. In this clime security is the business of everybody, as the citizenry have been indoctrinated to get involved in the system, and in the workings of security agencies. The citizenry in these countries are being well enlightened on the importance of watching over their neighborhood and passing information and intelligence gathering to security agencies.
The PAC/ATA members have had the privilege of participating in some conferences and training programmes on security in some of these overseas countries, where they are exposed to how things works well in those countries through community policing, such training programs had exposed some of our members who participated in them on how the communities can work effectively with the police and other security agencies to address security challenges in their countries. At the 120th International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference (IACP) held in Philadelphia, U.S.A in October 2013, in which I had the privilege to attend, a number of paper presented dwelled extensively on community policing as an effective methodology to address security challenges. On my return from that conference, I have shared the knowledge gathered with PAC/ATA members through series of training programmes at our seminars/workshop which we constantly organize to update ourselves. By and large, community policing is a general norm well recognized globally to expose and confront criminality by assisting security agencies through constant information/ intelligence dissemination by the society.
Electoral Challenges in Nigeria
The history of conducting elections in Nigeria has not been a palatable one. Our elections have always been characterized with series of challenges, ranging from violence,malpractices,outright electoral frauds, assassinations e.t.c This situation has remain so year in year out in every elections we conduct from time to time. The political actors i.e our politicians have not been helping issues in the way and manner they conduct themselves during their campaigns and the elections proper.
Our electoral umpires who are expected to be upright in conducting free and fair elections have always compromised in their positions.
The umpire had always succumbed to pressure from politicians to subvert the system through massive rigging or outright negligence of duty on their own part. Same goes with our security agencies, particularly the police who are always directly involved in checkmating violence and manipulation of the system by supporters of politicians involved in the electoral processes.
These challenges have been the bane of electioneering in Nigeria and which has always brought disrepute and stain to our democratic development.
Involvement of Security Agencies During Elections
Our security agencies, particularly the police as a civil force has always been involved in our electoral processes as they are saddled with the role of maintaining law and order during the elections. They are to assist the electoral commission officials to move around election materials from INEC offices to various voting locations. They are also to checkmate those who are deliberately out to perpetrate violence and election rigging. In carrying out these functions, they often encountered series of challenges. However some of them have also been seen to be compromising their position by been bribed to take side by the politicians who perpetrate rigging during the elections.
It is therefore imperative that as a nation we should be thinking of how we can change this negative attitude which is a smear on our image, by ensuring that those involved in this abuse of our electoral processes be they politicians or security agencies are properly monitored and exposed to face the wrath of the law. This is where an organization like the PAC/ATA can come in to offer there services as watchdogs that gather necessary information/intelligent and forward same to the appropriate quarters.
The Role of Police Assistance Committee in Electioneering Matters
The role of the Police Assistance Committee and its affiliates, Association of Tradesmen/women and Artisans cannot be overemphasized in this regard. Since our presence is in every part of the country, we are in a position to effectively monitor all actors involved in our electoral process, particularly those who are being used as thugs to snatch ballot boxes, and hired to carry out assassinations or all sort of violence before and during our election. As the election approaches we shall intensify on our series of seminar/workshop to keep training our members including our states, zonal and unit co-ordinators on what they are expected to do before and during the elections which is to gather information and intelligent report on all electoral actors and disseminate same to necessary authorities.
Let me take this opportunity to call on all our security agencies-Armed Forces, The Police, DSS, SSS, Security and Civil Defence Corps e.t.c to continue to corporate with our members in the performance of their duties to keep assisting our security agencies through information and intelligent gathering.
Thank you all and God bless.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Long live Police Assistance Committee.