Arase : Challenges Of Post-election Policing
The struggle for political power through the ballot box in Nigeria has become a ‘do or die’ affair, giving rise to post-election violence. Most incidences of post-election violence often tend to be localised, short-lived and restricted to polling centres and communities. But the incidences of large-scale post-election violence of 1963-65; 1983 and 2011 in Western Region, Oyo and Ondo States and in several Northern States respectively recorded large scale loss of lives and destruction of property.
Painfully, the cases of 1983 and 2011 exposed the helplessness of the police in containing serious political violence due to lack and non-utilization of relevant intelligence and other forms of institutional weaknesses.
Following the palpable tension that heralded the 2015 general election, many had envisaged post-election violence of even greater proportion than the previous incidences, including eventual break-up of the country. But the reverse was the case; particularly with the conceding of victory by former President Goodluck Jonathan even hours before the conclusion of the announcement of the presidential election results.
Doomsday predictions could not have been completely wrong if the level of small arms and ammunitions in circulation in the build-up to the election and violent attacks recorded during the period were anything to go by. Relatedly, there is noticeable upsurge in violent crimes reminiscent of political thugs deploying weapons initially intended for electoral violence for other violent crimes. The truth is that something must be urgently done about the weapons still in the hands of political thugs across the country; a nation-wide arms mop up programme is very necessary. The apparent resurgence in assassinations, kidnapping for ransom and armed robberies cannot be divorced from the antics of soon orphaned political thugs who were hurriedly abandoned with neither severance package nor demobilized by “do or die” politicians. Experts warn that the country might soon return to a state of nature where life is brutish and short except all private militia across the land are promptly identified and demobilized.
In the main, post-election crime wave was assuming an alarming dimension with repeated cases of kidnapping for ransom as reported in Ekiti, Kogi, Ondo, Imo and Bayelsa States while either assassins or armed robbers serially struck in Lagos, Rivers, Cross River, Benue, Kaduna, Enugu, etc but for the swift intervention of the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase.
Arase’s appointment as IGP was very timely and significant; coming less than two weeks after the general election to manage the post-election fallouts. The IGP’s baptism of fire came from his home state of Edo, where cultism had become a huge threat to security of lives and property and the Police boss did not waste time in descending heavily on the hoodlums. The operation was so clinically handled that Governor Adams Oshiomhole recently visited the IGP in Abuja and re-affirmed his decision to partner the Police in the area of logistics.
The governor saluted Arase’s giant strides since assumption of office, pointing out that the impact of the IGP’s wealth of professional competence was already being felt across the country.
In a no-nonsense approach to stemming the tide of cult activities, the IGP had warned all the state Commissioners of Police and Divisional Police Officers in Benue, Rivers, Cross River and Akwa Ibom states to be on the lookout for cultists and bring them to book. The on-going onslaught against criminal gangs in the country received a boost recently, with the arraignment of 129 suspects for offences raging kidnapping, cultism, murder and armed robbery at the Chief Magistrate, Special Grade “F” Court in Benin City.
Similarly, he has placed embargo on any form of leave for the officers and men of the Zone 6 Command of the Police; until the level of crime in the four states of Cross River, Ebonyi, Rivers and Akwa Ibom was drastically reduced.
Unfortunately, the Nigeria Police Force has over the years suffered institutional decay and handicap which might be a clog on IGP Arase’s commitment to carrying out effective post-election policing of the country. For instance, the criminal intelligence and investigation capability of the Police is grossly inadequate. Security experts say contemporary crimes require evidence-led strategies, plans and operations. There is no gainsaying that the Nigeria Police Force is extremely ill-prepared to curb contemporary crimes of terrorism, insurgency, organised and trans-border crimes. In addressing this challenge, Police training and deployment as well as procurement of services and facilities should take into consideration contemporary forms of security threats.
It is heart-warming to mention here that IGP Arase is a staunch apostle of intelligence-driven policing; hence his avowed determination to promote career long specialisation in criminal intelligence and investigation; patrols, etc. For him, the current general duty paradigm in the Police is out-dated. Little wonder that on assumption of office, the IGP ordered the immediate re-opening of Nigeria Police Intelligence School, Enugu which was shut for over a year.
The strategic policing plan developed by the new IGP, according to him, is to “courageously and professionally address critical issues affecting the optimal performance of the Police.” The loss of public respect and confidence in the Police as well as their inability to effectively tackle crimes in the most ethical and professional manner have been widely attributed to the challenge of corruption within the policing system. All these, he said, his administration would tackle frontally.
· Eze, a Public Affairs Analyst writes from Km 5, Abakaliki-Enugu Highway, Abakaliki, Ebonyi state via [email protected]