THE NIGERIA POLICE AND THE WAR AGAINST TERRORISM
The Nigerian Armed Forces has been locked in a sustained war of wits with the Boko Haram (BH) insurgent group for over ten years in the North Eastern part of Nigeria (NE). Through well planned military lines of operations, the Armed Forces has remained poised to subdue, degrade and crush-off the belligerent group.
While the narrative in respect of our face-off with insurgency is a fairly happy tale, the war against terrorism has not been much of a success story.
Anti-terrorism operations are intelligence driven and to this effect, the Nigerian Police remains the Lead agency acting in concert with the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), the Department of State Security (DSS), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the National Security & Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC). The military however avails a back-up support.
As the lead agency in the fight against terrorism, the NP is better placed and enabled to investigate local terrorist threat, neutralized sleeper cells and ensure that vulnerable soft targets are protected. The Police is the gatherer of intelligence, the enforcer of the law, the prevented of offence, the investigator of the crime and the standard bearer of the authority of the State, all rolled into one. It can not be ignored.
Patrolling is the central aspect of Policing and constant patrolling by the NP establishes an official presence that enhances security and builds confidence in the people.
The NP would have to resort to compassionate patrols by daytime, and revert to covert patrols at night to track specific suspects? terror groups or sleeper cells especially in the numerous trouble spots of the North Central and North west.
Intelligence Led Policing
Inview of police local knowledge of the area and people, they are often at the forefront of developing primary deterrent capacity to prevent terror attacks. To foster such capacity and competence, the NP has had to make considerable changes in its operating practices to fight terrorism by adopting the "Intelligence led Policing" (ILP) methods and Community Policing as current practiced in the UK & USA. The focal point ILP model of Policing is the identification, analysis and supervision of existing and future terror threats. The information gathered by ILP become useful tools in directing military field operations.
Community Policing is a 21st Century Policing method that lays emphasis on the allocation of police officers to Communities on a permanent basis for Policing duties. It comes with a strong sense of community integration and proactive Policing under a decentralized structure.
Community Policing is both problem oriented and intelligence driven. It avails the following advantages:
a. Advisory responsibility to the community.
b. Encourages community participation and endorsement in facilitation of the citizen taking ownership of his Security.
c. Encourages community Security initiatives like neighbourhood watch.
d. Increased patrol (Foot/Motorised).
e. Mutually rewarding relationships between community and law enforcement agencies.
f. Partnership building.
g. Allows for exercise of initiative by officer on ground.
The introduction of State and Community policing could go a long way in accelerating the security situation on ground, as the police gradually comes to term terms with functioning in a proactive partnership with host communities in identifying criminals and undesirable elements.
Manpower Issues: To effectively address the problem of terrorism and prevent terror activities efficiently, government would have to pay more attention to the issue of manpower in the NP. It is against this backdrop that the President's directive on the recruitment of additional 10,000 men by the NP should be commended.
Minimal Successes: Minimal Successes have so far been recorded in our fight against terrorism for the following reasons:
a. The Nigerian citizen is yet to be adequately mobilized to see the war as his own. The ordinary man on the street still sees it as strictly a military affair in which he has no role to play.
b. Our National Security process is not citizen centred. We do not operate a citizen centred National Security. Hence the Nigerian citizen is yet to take ownership of his personal security, his neighbour or community.
c. Ten years into the war against terrorism we are yet to articulate an Appropriate Urban Security Strategy to prevent or dislocate any form of attack on vital soft targets in our major cities.
d. We have only sparingly implement recommendations of previous security reports on the bombings of motor packs and crowded places. A serious national commitment on this is yet to be seen as exemplified in the following: installation of CCTV cameras, perimeter fencing, metal detectors, explosive detectors, vehicle scanners, bollards, alarm system, blast resistant materials etc.
e. Do all soft target locations currently playing host to our critical national infrastructures maintain Risk Assessment Score Cards ?
f. Do we have trained First Responders at all major parks, markets, leisure spots, stadia and crowded places to handle emergencies prior to arrival of NEMA?
g. Have all DPOs nation-wide established regular security liaison with the various market management committees within their AOR ?
h. Has the NP got Counter Terrorist Liaison Officers desk at every Divisional Police post working with the public on preventive and preparatory terrorism?
i. We are not likely to make appreciable awesome success if Preventive Terrorism Initiative (PTI) is not embraced with a sense of national commitment for implemented.
In all these, the lead Agency is the NP as it assumes a supervisory role over the safety of lives and property at the community level. At the centre of the supervisory responsibility is the DPO whose office is the nearest symbol of authority to the citizen within the community. The DPO is therefore saddled with the responsibility to ask all those questions and enforce implementation.