By Wole Adedeji, Ilorin
The former Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun, has disclosed that gradual implementation of community police began under his tenure as the chief police boss.
Balogun who was removed from office in 2005 by President Olusegun Obasanjo made this disclosure at a security workshop in Ilorin tagged ‘Community Policing and Sensitization.’ He was there along with Alhaji Aliyu Attah also, a former Inspector General of Police.
The workshop was organised by the Kwara State Police Command.
Balogun’s words: “Without being proud, without being cocky, under the pupillage of my bosses, I make bold to say that when I was made the IG, I looked into all concepts of policing. And I saw community policing policy and I adopted it.”
According to him, he saw it as organisational strategy and therefore introduced it formally into the Nigeria police dictionary.
He said: “If you recall when I came on board, I introduced the eight point agenda. I wanted my tenure to be accessed on eight things.
“Community policing was one of them. Operation Fire for Fire was another,” Balogun reminisced to the applause of his audience.
“But Operation Fire for Fire was more popular. But pick up the document and you will see that community policing was there.”
The former Police boss said he reached out to Britain, US and Canada for assistance and training of officers on the strategy.
According to him, he got 66 officers to go for six-month training on community policing in Britain, another 60 to Chicago and another undisclosed number to Ottawa to train police officers on the strategy.
The former IGP also said on returning, Enugu and some states of the Federation were chosen as pilot states for the program. “It was very successful in Enugu,” he said.
But Balogun lamented that the bane of the strategy was that it was abandoned as soon as he left office.
The former IGP, however, disclosed that he had begun working on the new policing strategy alongside other IGPs since last October.
He said: “Sometime in October last year, the former IGs held a meeting under the chairmanship of the same Baba Aliyu Attah, here present.
“We held the meeting at the IG’s office in Abuja. We were very worried with the level of insecurity, level of turbulence, level of criminality in the country and we decided that in retirement, we should not just fold our hands. We decided we should try to redeem the image of this country, redeem the image of the police institution, and redeem other security institutions.”
Meanwhile in his keynote address at the occasion, Governor AbdulRazaq said community policing was long overdue.
He also used the occasion to reiterate the need for traditional rulers to be accorded constitutional roles in the Nigerian polity because they are the closest to the grassroots which made them better and legally engaged with certain things related to the masses.
“I have always said that the traditional rulers are the fourth tier of government, their duties encompass all we do in our society”.
“We have always been grateful to them because I receive calls daily from them on security issues, not just giving information but also curbing civil disturbances like we recently had in Ilesha Baruba.
“In that community, there was a civil disturbance earlier and the Emir singlehandedly calmed the situation and ensured that the community is safe. We deeply appreciate his efforts on what he did.
“In the last meeting of Northern Governors held in Kaduna, there was the idea that the roles of the traditional rulers should be amplified and embedded into the constitution.
“This means that we should give them constitutional roles in the society. That is an ongoing process, and I am a supporter of this initiative.”
AbdulRazaq further asserted that community policing is an idea that helps to localise policing, brings security architecture closer to the grassroots, and gets a more robust buy-in of the people. It relies almost entirely on local intelligence and constant interactions with community folks to succeed.
“However, it is important to state that the success of community policing depends on all of us seeing it as our baby that must be nurtured to success. I therefore urge every stakeholder to support the”, he said.
Former IGP Aliyu Attah in his speech observed that the existing policing system had been grossly criticized for poor performance because of its inability to meet some expectations, a development he attributed largely to inadequate manpower and funding.
He said when community policing fully comes to play, it would generate employment, reduce youth restiveness, and minimise crimes.
“When a community policing system is introduced, most communities who have not felt the presence of government in their localities would at least know the government has come to them as they will have representation who will be concerned about their safety,” he concluded.