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CAN TECHNOLOGY FIGHT NIGERIAN CRIME?

By Emmanuel Onwubiko
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The year 2012 will go down in political history as the period in which the crime fighting capacity of members of the Nigerian security community was stretched beyond limits.

The whole of North Eastern States of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, and North central states of Gombe, Bauchi and Plateau have faced unrelenting bombardments by armed Islamic religious insurgents who have declared war on the Nigerian state in their avowed determination to carve out what they termed as Islamic Northern Nigeria. The North Western states of Sokoto, Kaduna and Kano have also become theatre of warfare and major battle fields of the armed Islamic insurgents who have successfully detonated several improvised explosive devices with deadly consequences on the lives of scores of innocent Nigerians even as property valued at several Billions of Naira have been destroyed by these bomb explosions.

For want of an effective crime/terrorism fighting mechanism to check the rising rate of bloody attacks by the armed Islamic religious insurgents in parts of the North, the Federal government for over six months now, declared state of emergency in the most disturbing flashpoints of this spate of violence. The Federal government of Nigeria has also increased the deployment of operatives of the Nigerian Armed Forces and the State Security Services [SSS] to these major terrorism flashpoints following the inability of operatives of the Nigerian police Force to battle this unprecedented insurgency successfully.

Although the spokespersons of the Nigerian military and the State Security Services (SSS) have separately told Nigerians at different media events that they are on top of the serious security challenge confronting the nation, not too many Nigerians are convinced about the veracity of these claims because members of the armed Islamic insurgency have upped their bloody campaign of terrorism resulting in the bombing of some significant places of Christian worship even as scores of innocent by-standers including Muslims have lost their lives in these targeted bomb attacks including the recent bomb attack that rocked Kaduna state.

Not a few people knowledgeable in the field of security have blamed the total absence of modern crime fighting facilities and poor training/capacity building of operatives of the nation's security community for the upsurge in sophisticated crime of terrorism in the North and the unfortunate resurgence of kidnapping and abduction for ransom payment of innocent persons by armed kidnappers in the Southern parts of Nigeria.

These sets of Nigerians have also canvassed the use of technology and other state- of –the- art crime fighting facilities by the Nigerian security operatives to effectively combat the unprecedented upsurge in bloody violence and terrorism in the country.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English language, fourth edition specifically defined technology as the “application of science, especially to industrial or commercial objectives”.

In seeking effective technology to battle the growing crime rate and terrorism-related attacks in all parts of Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan recently travelled to Germany on a state visit whereby important aspects of the bilateral consultations he held with high profile German political and business leaders were concentrated on possible ways that Germany can assist Nigeria with technology to wage effective science-driven battle against terrorist and armed kidnappers in Nigeria.

The Nigerian government is aware that crime and terrorism are the fastest ways to kill the local economy of any nation and so finding workable technology-driven solution to the growing phenomenon of terrorism and sophisticated crimes in Nigeria is the best approach to salvage Nigeria's local economy from imminent collapse. Like most thinkers, I am of the considered opinion that President Jonathan is well on the right track to attract effective foreign technology and security architecture to fight our local crimes of terrorism which has wider implication of hurting our local economy and dwindling our respectability before the international community. I am however skeptical that unless the Nigerian government and committed key players in the organized private sector settle down to work out home-made technology and security architecture, it is a big gamble to rely on foreigners to donate their hard earned technological skills to fight terrorism that is far from their shores except and unless Nigeria is ready to pay through our noses.

While watching proceedings at the bilateral consultation between Nigeria's President Jonathan and German Chancellor Mrs. Angela Merkel in Berlin, Germany, recently, and seeing the Nigerian leader begged his host for assistance, the question that beckons is when will Nigeria grow up and stop playing the role of a never-do-well nation going cap in hand begging the developed countries to come to Nigeria's help?

In the words of President Jonathan: “As a nation, we have security challenges because most investors talk about security. At present, we have the local terrorist group, code named Boko Haram. From publications on this terrorist group, it paints a very gloomy picture as if the whole country is in tatters. These terrorist operate in some states in the North-east part of the country but go into other states from time to time”.

President Jonathan further stated: “The area we expect our development partners, especially countries like Germany, to help is in terms of our security architecture, training and providing us with some modern equipment. You have to fight terrorists with technology because terrorists do not need to come with a rifle and you confront them one on one. They will surprise you; they will not come to engage you except to defend themselves occasionally. So, you must have superior technology to monitor them and know how you can relate with them. And these are the areas we believe that countries like Germany and others and even the United Nations (UN) can assist us.”

Nigeria needs to harness our local talents and resources to build effective local technology and security architecture to tackle the growing security challenges because those big brother nations like Germany and the United States of America can only do so little to help us since they are also in serious war with international terrorist in the last decade.

President Jonathan should direct the nation's ministries of Science/Technology and Education to work out effective strategy for the development of efficient crime fighting technology and security architecture from the numerous research institutes that abound in Nigeria.

The Federal Government can also collapse the office of the National Security Adviser with the Ministry of police Affairs to establish the Department for Homeland security and part of the function of this new office should be to effectively implement the national crime prevention program research and assistance projects with the primary goal of working in partnership with notable defence research institutes in Nigeria to develop home grown technology and crime fighting architecture.

Additionally, Government needs to realistically reorganize and reform the Nigeria police Force by weeding out all the bad eggs and recruit fresh hands with the competence and higher academic qualifications that will accelerate better and further capacity and skill building programs for the police operatives. The nation also needs to set up a crime data so as to track down criminals.

The Nigerian government should also adopt the Chinese and Japanese models of technology transfer whereby thousands of gifted and talented nationals of those nations were sent to the best science schools in the United States and Europe to get the best of Science Scholarship and to return on completion of these specialized courses to be re-engaged in vital Science and Technology sectors of their countries.

Like most thinkers have stated, I believe that technology helps to improve public safety in several ways and the more these technological and security architecture are home manufactured, the more sustainable they would become.

It is a fact that enhanced criminal records and identification systems keep high-risk individuals from obtaining weapons or positions of trust. The Nigerian police Force and a few other security outfits are infiltrated by fifth columnists who are actively working in partnership with dangerous terrorist to carry out the spate of terror attacks all across the country. The Nigerian Government needs to weed out these bad eggs immediately. The Delta State government recently arrested a serving Deputy Superintendent of police for aiding and abetting the growing kidnapping crimes in that state and incidentally, the indicted police officer headed the anti-kidnapping unit of the Delta State police command.

While not discouraging the current Nigerian government from seeking foreign technology and security architecture to fight Nigerian crime, it will serve the long term interest of Nigeria if we can design and implement our local mechanism for inventing and using these innovative crime fighting technology and security architecture for our betterment.

* Emmanuel Onwubiko, head, HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS' ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA, writes from www.huriwa.blogspot.com.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Emmanuel Onwubiko and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."