By Jiti Ogunye
The state of insecurity in Nigeria is very grave. Very dire. Our citizens are not safe. Both the people and government know this.
In October , 2018, the body of Major General Idris Alkali, who was traveling and had been abducted , was found in Guchwet Shen in Jos South Local Government Area of Jos, Plateau State.
In December, 2018, Air Marshal Alex Badeh , a former Chief of Defence Staff was murdered in cold blood by bandits on Keffi – Abuja Road.
In September 2019, Professor Peter Okedayo , a senior lecturer of the Ondo State University of Science and Technology was kidnapped and murdered in the boundary area between Ondo and Edo States .
In October 2019, Hon Justice Abdul Dogo of the Federal High Court, Akure, Ondo State was kidnapped at Ibilo , Edo State and later released.
In November, 2019 , Hon Justice Chioma Nwosu , JCA, of the Court of Appeal, Benin Division was kidnapped on the road in Edo State. In the course of the kidnap, her police orderly was reportedly killed. She was only released after spending fifteen days in the kidnappers’ den and after the “ needful “ had been done.
In December, 2019, a senior lecturer in the Obafemi Awolowo University and the Chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee of the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital , Professor Jerome Elusiyan was murdered while traveling between Ekpoma and Benin in Edo State . Reports stated that he had gone to the Ambrose Ali University Ekpoma as an external supervisor of medical students in their qualifying examination.
The above are brief examples of the unpalatable security breakdown in our Country. Security and safety wise, we are in a real but undeclared state of emergency!
Our terrified citizens are now adapting to the insecurity pandemic. A lot of our people are ensconced in our cities, shunning travels to their ancestral villages and towns during festivities, celebrations and family and community events, even when such travels are warranted.
Many elites, middle class and semi-middle class citizens are abandoning road travels , even when doing so may not be that affordable; and are increasingly resorting instead to air travels. And if they must use our kidnapping rife roads, they either hire police escorts to provide security for them in order to safely reach their destinations, which are inaccessible by air transportation; or upon their arrivals by air at a port city that is proximate to their hinterland destinations , they mingle with the locales, board the usual rickety commercial buses or cars plying the rural routes in order to conceal their personalities and moneyed identities, and journey to their destinations without entertaining the fear of abduction by bandits. This identity concealment strategy is not “kidnap-proof”, however. On many occasions, kidnappers were known to have stopped these rickety vehicles on the roads to carry out “ eminent persons identification “, examining exterior indicators of material comforts in order to tear down the deceptive cloak of ordinariness, and fish out their money yielding victims. This exercise is not only cruel but reminiscent of the slave trade era , in which slavers and slave merchants looked out for sturdy young men and women, and used their hands to feel their muscular build before selecting them for procurement!
Given the insecurity situation in our Country, we need a total remaking of our policing and security system. Anybody insisting on the retention of the existing unitary, anachronistic police force in the face of its glaring inability to deal with the security and safety needs of Nigerians, at this time , is a murderer. A unitary police in a “ federal” state like Nigeria is contradictory in terms .
In the United States of America, where we copied our presidential system of government from , apart from the FBI, every state has its police service. Within each state , every county has its police establishment . And many cities , institutions and organizations, including tertiary education institutions, have their police organizations.
In Nigeria, before the centripetal and unitary forces gained political ascendancy, native authority police forces existed in the provinces between 1905 , ( when the Egba Union Government formed the first police force in Nigeria , pre amalgamation) and before 1970, when the remaining native authority police forces were scrapped.
Germany, Australia, and the United Kingdom, do not have unitary police systems, just to mention but a few countries who have result achieving decentralized police systems.
What Amotekun has achieved in the last three weeks, therefore, is to expose the poverty of Nigerian governance structure. Instead of allowing the sprouting and flourishing of beer bottles breaking Hisbah police here, armed vigilante services there , a civilian JTF up there , and an Amotekun down here ( by default ), what is required is an urgent decentralization of policing in Nigeria, such that we have a central police service , police formations for the states in the “ Federation “, established on the basis of a uniform model and backed by a uniform legislation to be enacted in all the states , local council area police services and even city police formations .
This is the time for statesmanship and statecraft. Prevarication, specious legal opposition to the Amotekun exigency, highfalutin equivocation on the issue, politicization of the debate, ethnic chest beating, and high sounding doublespeak would achieve nothing. We are losing lives. We are losing property. We are losing our humanity.
The nonsense that we establish for the states or regions toothless intelligence-gathering “ Amotekuns” , to aid the existing unitary police force, should be jettisoned . What we need are well trained, equipped and armed police services at the federal , states and local government areas levels to saturate Nigeria to immediately bring down the unacceptable high level of banditry and criminality that are choking Nigerians to death right now. Unarmed Intelligence gatherers cannot mow down AK47 and AK49 wielding bandits that are running the kidnap and homicide industry in Nigeria .
The time to act is now. We delay at our peril.