It is with great honour and a deep sense of professional fulfilment that I join Your Excellencies, respected Royal Fathers, and other strategic stakeholders from the six States in the South West geopolitical Zone at this all-important Summit.
This meeting is being convened within the context of our Community Policing Vision which emphasizes citizens’ engagement in the process of identifying, dissecting and prioritizing threats to communal values, partnering to develop strategies to address the threats, and building trust to undertake actions directed at mitigating them. This is the second in the series of the geopolitical security Summits being facilitated by the Nigeria Police. The first was held with the Executive Governors and strategic stakeholders in the North West geopolitical Zone on 1st August, 2019 in Katsina. Similar engagement will be held in the other remaining geopolitical Zones subsequently.
During the first security summit, issues touching on banditry, kidnapping and sundry violent crimes were discussed, opinions aggregated, and new anti-crime pathways jointly evolved. I am delighted to note that the strategies jointly developed between the strategic community actors and the Police which are currently being implemented have been effective in addressing the identified security threats in the geopolitical Zone.
This is evidenced by the fact that since the meeting, the rate of these crimes has not only dropped drastically, several bandits have voluntary renounced crime, submitted their weapons and released several victims that had hitherto been kidnapped and held in their camps across the Zone.
A more significant outcome of the initiative is the enhanced trust between the communities and the Police and a renewed determination to embrace the police as ‘their police’ who are committed to serving them. In consequence, there has been a remarkable increase in the volume and quality of pieces of criminal information shared by the citizens across the North West geopolitical Zone with the local police and these are being optimally utilised to take the anti-crime war to the door steps of the criminals with resounding success.
Our experience from the first security Summit stresses two fundamental facts in relation to policing and community safety. Firstly, it highlights the fact that we cannot proceed on an anti-crime war against criminal elements that are united in their determination to threaten our common values with a divided front.
Hence, we must as a strategy, strengthen partnership among ourselves as a community on the one hand, and between the communities and the police on the other hand. The strength of this partnership and the commitment of all actors within the process will undoubtedly, influence the extent of success we can record against the criminals.
Secondly, it underscores the strategic importance of community policing as the most potent strategy for internal security governance. As attractive as the concepts of intelligence-led policing or technology-driven policing could be, the reality remains that no police agency either in the advanced or developing climes can succeed in its mandate without the consent, support and trust of the citizens they are engaged to serve and protect regardless of how well equipped, trained or motivated they may be.
The point being emphasized here, Your Excellencies, is that police legitimacy draws from public consent and trust, and lack of effective partnership between the police and the public can only sustain ineffective policing and engender insecurity within the community.
The imperative of partnership between the police and the public was accentuated by Robert Peel, the pioneer Chief of London Metropolitan Police in 1829 when he noted that the police and the communities should at all times maintain a relationship that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police are the only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the intent of the community welfare.
It is for this reason that I wish to sincerely appreciate the support of the Executive Governor of Oyo State, Engr. Seyi Makinde for volunteering to partner with us in hosting this Summit. Looking at the rich attendance at this meeting, I am convinced that our aim of convening the Summit can and shall be achieved.
These include advancing the principles of community policing in engaging the citizens towards x-raying the dynamics of crime in the South West geopolitical Zone, drawing on the rich experiences and wisdom of our traditional rulers and all citizens across the Zone, and galvanizing our communities to march hand-in-hand with us in reviewing our strategies and jointly evolving new pathways and actions towards restoring security order across our communities.
Generally-speaking, the security situation across the country has been stabilized. However, there are isolated cases of kidnapping and armed robbery in the South West, particularly, along Benin-Ore-Lagos Highway and across Ondo State.
The reality is that the current concerted operations of the Police and other security agencies across the country, particularly, along the Niger-Kogi-FCT-Kaduna-Katsina and Zamfara areas have engendered a dispersal and re-location of some of the criminals to new localities including the South West.
In response to this emerging trend, we have been evaluating and re-evaluating our operational strategies while strengthening our institutional capacity in relation to the generation of actionable intelligence and the conduct of special operations directed at proactively responding to criminal situations across the country. I am delighted to note that ‘Operation Puff Adder’ which we launched as a strategy to stabilize the security profile in the country and other strategies that we have emplaced since January 2019 have so far been a success story.
In consequence, between January – August 2019, a total of 552 murder suspects were arrested with 66 such arrests effected in the South West. Similarly, 2,015 armed robbery suspects were arrested with 363 of the figure arrested in the South West, while 1,154 kidnapping suspects were also apprehended in various operations. 147 of these were arrested in the South West. Furthermore, 1,183 suspected cultists have also been arrested with 425 of this figure apprehended in the South Western States.
In relation to recoveries, 1,356 firearms of various calibre and descriptions were recovered in various intelligence-led operations by the Police with 277 of such recoveries made in the South Western part of the country. Similarly, 21,300 ammunition of various descriptions and calibre were recovered in various intelligence-led operations with the highest number of 5, 270 ammunition recovered from criminal syndicates in the South West including about 2,700 ammunition recovered in June, 2019 from a cross-border arms smuggling syndicate in Oyo State. Furthermore, 1,541 stolen vehicles were recovered with 482 of such recoveries achieved in the South West while a total of 837 kidnapping victim were rescued with 106 of such rescues achieved in the South West.
The point being highlighted from these statistics is that the Nigeria Police in recent months have developed capacity and demonstrated the requisite professional zeal such that today, we can confidently say that we have the institutional capability not only for preventive actions, but for responding effectively to any crime situation or threat with a view to locating and apprehending the criminal elements and disrupting their criminal enterprises across the country. It is this process that we call on you as strategic security stakeholders in the South West to support us in strengthening and advancing in the interest of our communal and internal security.
Having succeeded in using ‘Operation Puff Adder’ as an operational vehicle to stabilize the public security space, we are currently moving to the next phase of our strategic policing plans which is woven around two key actions. First is the launch of the Community Policing Strategy and the second is the expansion and strengthening of ‘Operation Puff Adder’ with other complementary strategies.
Within this perspective and in relation to the South West Geopolitical Zone, we shall soon relaunch the ‘Safer Highway’ Motorised Patrol Scheme as well as the ‘Safer City’ Scheme. We have since purchased new fleet of patrol vans to be deployed across our highways and cities. This will also involve the deployment of cutting-edge CCTV technology for surveillance functions across the highways and vulnerable locations in our communities in the Zone and other parts of the country.
In addition, a special operation is underway across the South West geopolitical Zone. The operation will specifically address the threat of kidnapping and armed robbery on the highways and other locations. While for operational reasons, I would not offer the details into the operation, I am in this Summit with the Commissioner of Police who will command the special operation to complement the efforts of the Police Commissioners in the States within the Zone.
Furthermore, in order to give full effect to our Community Policing Vision as a pathway towards bridging security gaps, we shall soon commence the implementation of the strategy in the South West and other parts of the country. Hopefully, the breakdown of the Community Policing deployment plan will cover the recruitment of a total of forty thousand (40,000) Community Police Officers (CPOs) across the country.
The CPOs will be recruited from within the communities where the prospective applicants reside and an average of fifty (50) CPOs are to be engaged in each of the 774 Local Government Areas. In addition, one thousand (1,300) CPOs will be drawn from professional bodies like the academics, Road Transport Unions, Artisans, Traders Associations, Religious Bodies, Women Unions, and Youth Organisations among others in order to ensure diverse representation.
In relation to the South West, the CPOs shall be deployed to complement the Police in law enforcement functions within their localities by performing low-risk and non-sensitive policing functions. They will also act as liaisons between the Police and their communities. This policing architecture will free-up conventional police personnel that hitherto perform such functions and enhance our manpower profile in relation to deployment to frontline, operational duties in the South West and across the country.
When fully implemented, the Community Policing Strategy will bridge the gap between the Police and the citizens in a manner that will enhance optimal, cost-effective, and sustainable law enforcement service delivery by the Police.
It is anticipated that in the course of this Summit, your inputs, experiences, and opinions shall aid us to further perfect our operational plans. On our part, I can assure of our determination to continue to maximally deploy all our resources and unique capabilities towards mitigating crimes and addressing fear of crime across the South West. In this regard, however, I wish to appeal that we avoid analyzing the situation from a pedantic, narrow, and sentimental perspective.
We should, avoid ethnic profiling and colouration of the situation as crime is not defined by ethnic background but by individual’s disposition and intents. Hence, we should appreciate that a crime is a threat to all groups and could be perpetrated by any individual or group.
The key factor is that we should as a people, be determined to build a consensus and partner in condemning any act of criminality and resolving to work with the Police towards identifying, isolating and bringing the criminal elements within our communities to deserved justice regardless of their status, background, creed or gender. Doing otherwise will present a faulty and prejudiced foundation for us in correctly dissecting the trend and in evolving appropriate mitigating strategy.
On this note, I thank Your Excellencies, our revered Traditional Rulers, and other strategic stakeholders for sacrificing to personally honour our invitation to this Summit. You are by your attendance making a clear and loud statement today that you are all determined to present a common front to defeat the criminals who are our common enemies. I, therefore look forward to a robust and rewarding engagement, the outcome of which will alter the security narratives in the South West for good.
I thank you all and pray for Allah’s continued protection and blessing on you and our beloved country.
A speech by the Inspector of Police, Mohammed Adamu, at the South West Geopolitical Zone Security Summit held in Ibadan, Oyo State on September 2, 2019.