By Mary BASSEY, Senior Investigator Reporter, Lagos.
THE Nigeria Police has received a pat in the back for their concerted efforts in bringing down the tide in crimes and criminality in the country. The Consul General Of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Nigeria, Mr. Jan Ban Weijen who gave the commendation recently on the occasion of the first quarterly symposium of the Police Community Relations Committee PCRC, Victoria Island chapter themed; practical implementation of community policing in Nigeria said the country was better policed now and much more secure for socio-economic activities than what it used to be years back. He drew his assertion from the fact that the hitherto nauseating road blocks and check points across the length and breadth of the country had reduced tremendously adding that this could not have been made possible without a conscious rejig in the policing systems. At the event which was also used to launch the PCRC, Victoria Island Traffic Corps, Weijen opined that the change in policing systems which ultimately resulted in the reduction in crimes could have been the inculcation of members of the immediate community in policing. He said, “I know how much security means and I can also tell you that it has increased tremendously in Nigeria since I last visited in 1993. Nigeria especially Lagos State is now conducive for business and you can drive anywhere in the country without any fear. I can tell you authoritatively that crime rate has reduced drastically. I was in Nigeria in 1992 to 1994 and the security challenges were terrible. I remember that there were road blocks everywhere and that did not reduce the crime rate either. But in my second coming early this year, I discovered that there are no longer road blocks. I commend the Nigeria security agencies especially, the Police; I can drive everywhere on my own now without fear.”
Earlier in his address, Chairman of the PCRC, Victoria Island chapter, Mr. Mathew Ibadin, who was visibly elated said the vision of the Committee was to serve as a platform to synergize the security activities of various corporate bodies, organizations and individuals towards the creation of a workable security architecture for Victoria Island. According to him, the initiative is a holistic approach which involves security, safety and traffic management; stressing, “Consequently, this will assist the Police, Road Safety and LASTMA to ease traffic and decrease the occasions for criminal intent and action. Today we have launched the Traffic Corps who are going to be on our payroll because we want to make sure our environment is safe and crime free.”
The occasion which drew the creme de la crème from the security sector had in attendance, a security expert and academia, Dr. Ona Ekhomu, representatives of the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of zone 2, Onikan Lagos, AIG Ahmed Illyasu, the Commissioner of Police Lagos State Command, CP Hakeem Odumosu, President, Africa Bar Association Hannibal Uwaifo, Crime Reporters Association of Nigeria CRAN led by its President, Mr. Odita Sunday and hosts of others.
*The new PCRC Traffic corps
Delivering his paper, Dr. Ekhomu observed that it was high time Nigeria discovered the essence of community policing and implement it to the letter. According to him, the key element in community policing is hinged on mutual trust between the Police and members of the immediate community who volunteer vital information to the Police. He said, “Having a Police Community Relationship Committee is not community policing, and in order to establish trust and obtain citizen cooperation, the Police must eschew all trust busters and become a trust worthy agency.” This was closely corroborated by representative of the President of Africa Bar Association; Mr. Osa Director who also noted that trust between the Police and members of the community was one of the challenges of Community Policing in Nigeria. But puncturing the assertion by Dr. Ekhomu that having Police Community Relations Committee was far from community policing, Mr. Sunday Odita who also writes for The Guardia newspapers said PCRC only stands as the harbinger of community policing noting that the community comprises of artisans like the cart pushers, roadside mechanics, vulcanizers and the itinerant food vendors who he said get vital information on crimes daily and enjoined security personnel especially, Divisional Police Officers DPOs to make judicious use of them.
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