Friday, July 28, 2006

Crime-shocked Nigerians

Resident Nigerians are crime-shocked. The Nigerian newspapers: Punch (Ehindero’s frustration- Ehindero is the Inspector General; he runs the Nigerian Police Force) and the Guardian (Nigeria's long list of curious deaths) run editorials on security in the Nigerian nation, and all fingers point at the Nigerian Police Force. This is not solely because of its gross personnel incompetence and negligence, but also because of the failure of the centralized law enforcement system adopted since independence. I strongly believe a centralized system accounts for the bulk of the Nigerian police ineptitude and the spiking wave of crime.
"People say local police will be used to intimidate opponents as if the FG [Nigerian federal government] has not intimidated with the police today. Policing to be effective in any part of the world needs to be a local function. Policing should be based on local needs."- Pat Utomi.
Rather than patrolling the streets, Nigerian police officers are often seen on the freeways (highways) extorting money from the people they are hired to protect. In societies where things work, police officers do do street patrols- often on foot and bicycles; there is community policing, and police precincts and 'front-shops' are strategically placed.

Can one even imagine Nigerian police officers on bicycles patrolling the streets? This is tough to imagine, yet it may be one of the steps to take to control crime in Nigeria.

Community Policing defined:
Community Policing is a proactive approach to crime fighting, designed to reduce crime, disorder and by extension, fear of crime, by intensely involving the same officer in the same area on a long term basis. By doing this the residents get to know the officer personally and avenues of communication are opened.

Additonal links:
Community policing on Wikipedia
Analysis of Police and Policing in Nigeria
Civilian Oversight and Acountability of Police in Nigeria