Former Inspector General of Police, Mr Solomon Arase says Nigeria has not developed a national policy framework 57 years after its independence.
Speaking at a Think tank conference on policing the Nigerian federation organised by the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) with the theme “Towards Integrating Community Policing in Nigeria’s Security Architecture: Models, Policy Options and Strategies”, Arase noted that the nation has not developed a policy framework and a national internal security policy that will recognize, strengthen and adopt community policing as an internal security model in the fight against crime and maintenance of law and order in the country.
He added that such a policy should have defined the principles of policing and pathways to strengthening public trust and partnership between the police and the citizens. He stressed that one of the major factors that has sustained lack of trust between the police and the citizens has been the inability to introduce reforms needed for the reorientation of the police force inherited from the colonial masters.
While, arguing that Community Policing is historically the rock upon which policing and internal security management rests, he said there was the need to give sustainable effect to the model within the Nigeria security space.
According to him, the needed national policy framework will define pathways for the attainment of the community policing initiatives, define specific roles of all strategic community actors as well as law enforcement community component and also clearly define the interrelationships and obligations of each of the actors.
He said, “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 insecurity among citizens.” He added that community policing which demands effective police public partnership and trust in crime prevention would be the best form of policing.
The former IGP also observed that “even among police personnel themselves, a research carried out in 14 states discovered that if community policing strategy is adopted, it could assist to eradicate most of the challenges attributed to the traditional reactive police culture”.
He said, “There is no debate about the efficacy of community policing model of internal security management. Community Policing has been in practice in local communities in Nigeria long before colonial period.
“As we make to advance the concept of community policing in our drive to perfect our internal security, we should not be under the faulty perception that we are advocating a move, crime control practice… community policing is part of our culture, our evolution as a nation. And our way of life until it was disrupted by colonialism and dislocated by the constitution which institutionalize central policing framework.
“What we are pushing for is that we go back to the basics by re embracing, modifying, adapting and readopting our traditional, community policing model to meet the dynamics of crime and modern dictates.
“Trust is central to the effective implementation of community policing. It is recognized within the Nigerian policing space that police efficiency is dependent on citizens’ approval of the existence, actions and behaviours of the police.
“Whatever line the debate tilts towards, what is not debatable is the reality that community policing is driven by trust between the local police and the community and the conduct of the local police determined the extent and strength of such trust. By implication, it is possible that a police detachment populated by officers and me. Within the police locality may not regain the trust of the community not secure their willing partnership in crime control functions if such personnel conduct themselves in unprofessional manner towards the community members.”