Posted by News Express | 7 September 2020 | 610 times
By OKECHUKWU NWANGUMA
The attention of Rule of Law And Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) has been drawn to complaints by traditional rulers in some communities about the hijack, commercialisation and compromise of the process of selection of community policing officers in communities.
One case in point is the case of Ezinihitte Mbaise Local Government Area where Mr. FSC Onyeberechi, appointed by Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, as Transitional Council Chairman for Ezinihite Local Government Area, has been accused by traditional rulers in Ezinihitte Mbaise of hijacking the process of recruitment of community policing officers in the local government for profit and other self serving motives. The Transitional Council Chairman, according to our information, is currently, unilaterally handpicking and appointing his cronies and favored candidates without consultation with and involvement of traditional rulers in the communities that make up the local government.
The purpose of adopting and rolling out community policing as a strategy of policing to replace the traditional policing method is to promote community participation in policing their communities and to foster trust, cooperation and partnership between the Police and the communities they serve in jointly identifying and addressing local priorities.
Community policing is envisaged as a proactive strategy to foster police-community partnership in tackling crimes, as opposed to the traditional policing method which is reactive, alienates the community and breeds mutual distrust and antagonism.
The strategy document for the implementation of community policing across the country prioritises the role of traditional rulers in the process of selecting community policing officers in the communities. Committees have also been set up at local, state and federal levels to drive the process.
Appointed or elected local government political office holders are not authorised to hijack or interfere with – thereby, compromise, the process.
Therefore, the dubious attempt by the Chairman of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) for Ezinihitte LG appointed by Governor Hope Uzodinma to hijack the recruitment process is an attempt to sabotage the efforts by the federal government and the Nigeria Police Force. The purpose for the adoption and implementation of community policing in the country will be defeated if corrupt local politicians are not restrained from derailing the implementation process.
The Inspector General of Police should work closely with State Governments to ensure that the integrity of the process is protected; that guidelines and qualification criteria are strictly adhered to, and that the process is transparent and merit-driven, devoid of favoritism.
Unless we ensure that only those that meet the requirements and qualification criteria- (and not necessarily those who know someone or are connected to influential people or can buy slots) – are recruited to serve as Community policing officers in our communities, community policing will be dead on arrival.
If we allow the process to be hijacked and compromised, as is being alleged in Ezinihitte Mbaise LGA, then the wrong people will be recruited and the good intentions and purpose for the roll out and adoption of community policing will be sabotaged.
Community policing is proactive and participatory policing and entails community involvement and partnership with the Police in identifying community priorities and problem solving; it involves building trust and cooperation, and reducing human rights abuses; it entails transparency, responsibility and accountability to the community.
This is opposed to the traditional method of policing which is reactive, coercive, alienating and promotes corruption and human rights violations.
The process of recruiting Community police officers in communities must be credible and transparent. It must not be hijacked and compromised by local government entrepreneurs. It must be implemented as envisaged under the strategy document. The committees at various levels of government – local, state and federal, must be allowed to function as envisaged. The role of traditional rulers must not be relegated.
The good intentions of the federal government and the Nigeria Police Force in rolling out community policing as a response to increasing insecurity in the country must not be sabotaged by self serving appointed or elected (where they exist) local government officials.
Traditional Rulers have a key role to play in the selection process to ensure that candidates with questionable character are eliminated and not allowed to infiltrate and mess up the system.
•Okechukwu Nwanguma is Executive Director, Rule of Law And Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC).
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