The Role of Traditional Rulers in Community Policing
By Ibrahim Kpotum Idris
I most humbly consider this as a great honour, privilege and blessing to stand before my Royal Fathers and Majesties from across the country, under the umbrella of the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria (NCTRN) to deliver this key note address, during your 9th General Assembly with the theme “Community Policing As A Catalyst To Crime Prevention-The Role Of Traditional Rulers”
2. Most times we run to our Traditional Fathers to seek Royal blessings, counselling and guidance because of your unique positions, influence and authority in the society. To therefore stand before all the Traditional Rulers in Nigeria, converged under one roof to receive what I may call ‘consolidated blessings and guidance’ is a rare opportunity. I am truly grateful to you all for this. May you be equally blessed and may your reigns bring peace, love and prosperity to your various towns and communities.
3. The theme for this 9th General Assembly “Community Policing As A Catalyst To Crime Prevention-The Role Of Traditional Rulers” is very apt. This is because it is relevant to the burning issues of security and the need to find lasting solutions to its challenges, in line with the desire of Mr President to provide security to all Nigerians, irrespective of Political, Religious or Ethnic affiliations.
4. The primary responsibility of the Police as the core Law Enforcement Agency in Nigeria is to provide this needed security in our communities as envisioned by Mr President. This is provided in Section 4 of the Police Act which states that the duties and responsibilities of the Police are the prevention and detection of crime, the apprehension and prosecution of offenders, the preservation of law and order, the protection of life and property and the due enforcement of all laws and regulations. However these responsibilities cannot be carried out without the support and cooperation of the Traditional Rulers and their subjects.
5. It is in recognition of this collaborative and all inclusive approach to security that the Police Management Team under my Stewardship adopted the Community Policing Strategy. Though I have been adopting Community Policing as a policing strategy since assumption of office, it was officially lunched at the International Conference Centre, Abuja on the 15th of September, 2017. This approached is aimed at soliciting the support of the Traditional Rulers and their subjects in the communities, in the fight against crime. Community Policing involves the engagement and the partnership of the community in the systematic examination of identified and identifiable problems in the community and how to effectively deal with the problems.
6. In this approach, the Police is increasingly engaging the Traditional Rulers, Religious based organizations, Market Women, Students, Non-Governmental Organization through town halls meetings, visitations, private consultations to discuss the prevailing crimes in their communities. In the meetings, the crime prevention strategies of the Police are discussed and feedback received from the Community. This approach is effective and of international good practice as it has been adopted in developed jurisdictions like USA, Britain, Europe and others.
7. It could be recalled that on the 11th and 12th May 2017, I organized the National Security Summit in conjunction with the Traditional Rulers at the International Conference Centre. The theme for that Summit was “Forging Partnerships For effective Strategies to Curb the Menace of Kidnapping, Recurring Farmers-Herders Clashes and Criminality in Nigeria”. His Eminence, Alhaji (Dr) Muhammad Saad Abubakar III, CFR, mni, the Sultan of Sokoto, His Royal Majesty the Ooni of Ife and many other Traditional Rulers in this hall today were in attendance. At the end of the Summit, a communiqué was issued and all Police Commands and formations were mandated to strictly adhere to the issues raised as part of the solutions to security threats anywhere in the country.
8. Again, on the 4th of August 2017, another Security Summit with the theme, “providing strategic solutions to emerging security challenges, the essentials of synergy amongst security agencies and the civil populace” was organised in Lagos. The Lagos Summit was followed by another in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State on the 3rd of October 2017. This time the theme was “Insecurity: Social-Economic Impacts and Conflict Resolution Perspective. During these Security Summits, Traditional Rulers were invited to discuss the issues of Security and its challenges in their various communities.
9. Today’s event present yet another opportunity for the Police Management Team under my stewardship to continue to engage and tap from the wisdom of the Traditional Institutions in the Policing Space, in our efforts to provide Security in the Country. The question that may therefore be asked is why do I keep engaging the Traditional Rulers and their Institutions in my prevention and detection of crime strategies? The answer is simple. It is in recognition of the very crucial roles the Traditional Rulers play in the Security Architecture of the Country. The Traditional Rulers as the custodian of culture of the people are the closest to the people, they know their people and their people know them.
10. The Traditional Rulers command respects in their various communities. They value their subjects and their subjects value them. They know the Hills and the valleys in their communities. They know the Forests and they can command their subjects and hunters to patrol and secure the Forests. Strangers cannot easily enter and assimilate into the Communities without the Traditional Rulers and their Chiefs noticing them. The Traditional Rulers are a veritable source of information to the Police. The Police cannot effectively police the communities and villages without the supports and collaborations of this much Powerful Traditional Institutions.
11. I will therefore continue to seek your cooperation to assist the Police with useful information on crime and criminality in your localities. If you see, hear or observe anything in your communities, do not hesitate to give such information to the Police. The cooperation we seek must go beyond just giving the information. It must be escalated to ensuring that the offender is not only arrested but prosecuted in accordance with the laws of the Land. The Traditional Rulers and their Institutions must not only encourage their subjects to give information, they must also encourage them to give evidence when required to do so in courts.
12. The ethical conducts of our Traditional Rulers and their Institutions is also very vital for the prevention of crimes and criminality in our communities. The Traditional Rulers and Your Royal Majesties can prevent crimes if we speak against crimes in our communities. We must condemn criminal activities in our communities and not condole it. You must speak up against known criminals in your communities. We must not reward crimes and criminality in our communities by the conferment of chieftaincy titles on persons whose sources of livelihood are not transparent. If children and youths in our communities are aware early in life, that crime is evil and does not pay, it will reduce criminal tendencies in them.
13. Furthermore the role of the Traditional Institutions in the prevention of crime should extend to areas of logistics support to the Police. I urge you to appeal to your subjects who are well to do and with no questionable character to support the Police in the area of logistics. The Police needs Communication, Information technology Infrastructure, Patrol/Operational Vehicles, Forensic and Scientific Aids for Investigation and the Construction and Rehabilitation of Barracks. The regular budgetary allocations to the Police will not be sufficient to meet these needs.
14. In 2008, the M. D. Yusuf Reform Committee set up by the Government to reform the Police estimated that about N560 Billion annually is required for the capital and other overheads cost to make the Police operate optimally. However in 2017 only about N10 Billion Naira was released to the Police for both capital and overhead cost. This amount is a far cry from the amount estimated to make the Police effective.
15. However let me proudly state that Mr President and the National Assembly are currently exploring alternative sources of funding for the Police. The Police Trust Fund Bill has passed through the 2nd reading in both Houses of the National Assembly. It is hoped that when the Bill is passed into Law, the funding needs of the Police will be adequately addressed and the Nigeria Police may be one of the best in the world. I therefore seek your supports in appealing to your subjects in the National Assembly to see to the quick passage of the Bill.
16. My success stories in the fight against crime and criminality so far in our various communities cannot be told without the support of the Traditional Rulers and their Institutions. It is not possible to mention all my achievements since my appointment as the Inspector-General of Police on the 22nd of June 2016 especially in the fight against insurgency, kidnapping, armed robbery, Cattle rustling and other heinous crimes across the length and breadth of this country. However it is Suffice to mention that the activities of Kidnappers in North Central especially along Kaduna-Abuja Roads, Abuja Minna Roads, Abuja-Lokoja-Okene Roads and their environs have been drastically reduced.
17. Again the incidents of Kidnappings in the South-South, South East and South West have also been minimised. In the month of December and January alone, the Police arrested over 200 Kidnappers, Armed Robbery and Cattle Rustling Suspects in various parts of the Country. In this same period over 100 AK 47 Rifles, 20 English made pistols, 10 SMG Rifles, and over 700 rounds of 7.62 x 39mm and 9.19mm calibers of ammunition respectively, were recovered from them.
18. I am very much aware, that despite these successes, the incidence of Kidnappings, Armed Robbery, Cattle Rustling and Farmers/Clashes are still being noticed in some parts of the Country. I am constantly and continually reviewing our strategies to address the issue. The case of Herders/Farmers clashes is generating a lot of concern in Nigeria especially the recent clash in Benue State. Let me use this opportunity to assure, your Majesties and in fact all Nigerians, that the President has mandated the Police to adopt strategies effective enough to end the recurring Herders/Farmers clashes in Nigeria. The support of the Traditional Rulers is strongly solicited in this area. You are invited to offer your advice and solutions in this regard.
19. However let me state very strongly that anybody that is found to have been responsible for the death of any Nigerian whether as a result of Herders/Farmers clash or any other forms of criminality will be dealt with in accordance with the Laws of the Land. You are all aware that the Police have made some arrest in respect of the Benue clash and the full wrath of the Law is being brought on them.
20. The arrested persons are currently undergoing trials in various courts and if at the end of their trials they are found guilty by the Law Courts, they will be punished accordingly. The Traditional Rulers must enjoin their subjects to refrain from making inciting comments on the issue and desist from taking the laws into our hands. We must avoid reprisal attacks and ensure that Nigerians co-exist peaceable among themselves irrespective of religion, tribe or political leanings. We must continue to engage ourselves in dialogue and avoid the mistakes of the past. The Traditional Rulers have very important roles to play in ensuring the unity of Nigeria and that all Nigerians must coexist together in their communities.
21. In the area of elections, electioneering and the violence usually associated with it, the Police has done well since my assumption of office. We have recorded less violence and killings in the gubernatorial elections and supplementary elections conducted in Edo, Ondo, Osun, Kano, Rivers and Anambra States. The success achieved in the recent gubernatorial election in Anambra State, where no single violence or death was reported is an indication that the Police has improved on the duty of election security.
22. We are gradually approaching the primaries leading to the 2019 general elections. I am quite confident that in the coming primaries and elections, the Police will continue to do their best to eliminate violence. We will continue to perfect the art of elections security in Nigeria. The Traditional Rulers and their Institutions have very important roles to play to reduce violence and thuggery in our elections. You have the responsibility to enjoin your subjects to avoid election violence. We must not sacrifice our bloods for elections and peace is an important element in any democracy.
23. While I seek the support of the Traditional Rulers in the fight against crime and criminality in our communities, the Police must be above board to earn the trust and respect of the both the Traditional Rulers and their subjects. It is when the people have respect and trust for the Police that they will be confident to give them information. To improve the image of the Force therefore and win the hearts and mind of the people, I have institutionalized the code of conduct for the Police known as ‘OUR CREED’ in addition to the Police Act and regulations. This Creed is to ensure that the conducts of our Police Officers both while on duty and off duty are in line with international good practices.
24. This code of conduct for Police Officers has succeeded in eliminating all forms of illegal and unlawful conducts that are not in conformity with the principles of democratic policing, such as unlawful arrest, prolonged detentions, torture, commercialization of bail Process, incivility to members of the public, extra-judicial killings and victimization. These are conducts which hitherto contributed to negative perception of the Police by the Public
25. The commercialisation of bail process is also one of the issues that have brought the Police name to disrepute and put them at loggerheads with members of the Public. To minimise this, I have lunched the bail is free campaign to enlighten Nigerians that bail is free and will continue to remain free. I have engaged the support of some prominent youths including Nnamdi Kanu Nwankwo, the ex-football star and Mr Innocent Ujah Idibia Aka 2Baba, the talented musician to support the campaign of bail is free. I request the support of the Traditional Rulers to sensitise their subject that bail is free and they do not need to pay money to release anybody on bail. Encourage your subjects to report any Police Officer who demand money for bail to the Public Complaint Rapid Response Unit (PCRRU) which is domiciled in my office through the online media and phone calls.
26. Recently we witnessed the campaign for the abrogation of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squads (FSARS) in the Country. Let me state that it will not be in the interest of the public to abrogate the FSARS due to their high effectiveness in the fight against Armed Robbery and other heinous crimes in the Country. They may have been misconducts among some of the Officers but that will not be enough to dismantle the Unit at the detriment of public interest.
27. To make the FSARs more responsive, effective and of high ethical standards, I have reorganised and repositioned the Unit which is now under the direct supervision of a Commissioner of Police in the Office of the DIG Operations, Force Headquarters Abuja. The Unit is now to concentrate only on heinous crimes such as Armed Robbery and Kidnapping. They are not to be involved in land cases and other minor offences. The Commissioners of Police in the States are also to have a close supervision on the activities of FSARS in their States. The Traditional Rulers have the role and responsibilities to observe the activities of FSARS and you can attest that they have been a tremendous improvement in their conducts and actions.
28. In the area of capacity building and training, i have been organizing training and re-training for officers and men in various aspects of Policing including Fundamental Rights, Operations, Investigative and surveillance matters. This is to make sure that while performing their constitutional duties of protection of lives and property, they must do so within the confines of the law. They are regularly trained on Criminal Procedural laws such as the provisions of Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 to promote efficient management of the criminal justice institutions, speedy dispensation of justice, the protection of the rights and interests of the suspects, the defendants and the victims of crime.
29. Security is vital to our National Development. Without Security there will not be economic, social and political development. The Security Architecture and Infrastructure of any Nation is not strong without the Traditional Rulers and their People. The people are the main reason why the architecture is reliable and dependable. The Traditional Rulers are the building block, without you it will not stand. I urge you to stand strong with the Police and ensure we defeat all the security challenges currently confronting us. I am confident that with the strategies already in place and the support of the Traditional Rulers and the people, we shall sustain and improve on the successes we have started recording.
30. In conclusion, Let me thank the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria (NCTRN) for putting together this 9th Assembly to discuss security matters. It is a demonstration of your desire to partner with the Police in the fight against all forms of crimes in the Country. You are assured of my support and availability at all times. Finally let me as always express my gratitude to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, for the continuous support to the Police and his determination to provide security to all parts of Nigeria.
Ibrahim Kpotum Idris is the Inspector General of Police delivered this Keynote Address at Meeting of National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria (NCTRN) in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State