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Lagos State has taken an audacious step towards improving security in all communities across the State, with the inauguration of State Community Policing Advisory Committee (SCPAC) and its operations arm, State Community Policing Committee (SCPC).
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Wednesday, inaugurated members of the two committees at a ceremony held at the State House in Alausa, pointing out that the event marked a turning point in the Government’s deliberate effort to re-strategise and rethink the security architecture using Community Policing Initiative as proposed by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Muhammed Abubakar Adamu.
The security initiative, the Governor said, is long overdue, adding that the reform is being implemented with the objective to address inadequacies of the current policing model, which, he said, had failed to engage members of local communities and neighbourhoods in knowledge sharing and intelligence gathering that could help in nipping crimes in the bud.
SCPAC, which is co-chaired by the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, and chairman of Council of Obas and Chiefs in Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, will be the custodian of the initiative and it is to maintain highest level of oversight on community policing in the State.
SPAC, on the other hand, will be responsible for managing and coordinating the State-level operations of the community policing programme, and it will, among other functions, help identify security threats in communities and work with the police and the Community Police Officers (CPOs) in evolving appropriate strategies for addressing them.
Sanwo-Olu said the community policing initiative was conceived and rolled out to achieve fundamental changes in the way the Government responds to security matters and make security agencies proactive in discharging their statutory duties.
He said: “Today is a particularly important and auspicious day for the good people of Lagos State. We are gathered here to take an important step in the implementation of a long overdue policing reform effort – the Community Policing Initiative.
“In a democracy, the involvement of the people in all matters of governance, especially on issues that impact directly on their well-being is key to achieving good governance. One of the inadequacies of our current policing systems has been the inability to tap the knowledge and intelligence that exists at neighbourhood and community level.
“The work that the Police are expected to do becomes more difficult when they are expected to do it alone. No matter how well-resourced or technologically advanced a Police Force might be, there might be no progress without the trust and support of the communities in which they operate. Every citizen has a role to play in ensuring that the security architecture functions optimally.”
The Governor said deploying technology and equipping the police with modern gadgets to fight crimes remained a novel idea any Government could introduce, but he added that such could not be a substitute for mutual trust and cooperation between the police and members of their host communities.
He said a citizen-centric approach to tackling crime and criminality would take a lot of pressure off the police and allow them to focus energy and resources on issues that matter most.
The community policing model, Sanwo-Olu suggested, will give every community resident a strong sense of participation in governance and strengthen the social contract between the Government and citizens. He praised President Muhammadu Buhari for his unequivocal support for fundamental security reforms in Nigeria.
He said: “We are implementing this policing initiative with sole objective of creating a platform for citizens’ participation towards improving security in our communities. We want Lagos State to be a role model for the rest of the country in terms of how community policing should function. We want to create an atmosphere of mutual trust and confidence, one that engenders speedy resolution of issues as they arise.
“Community policing, in its ideal implementation, will take a lot of pressure off the Police Force and allow them to focus their energy and resources where it matters most. It will give citizens and residents a strong sense of participation in governance, and strengthen the social contract between the Government and the governed. A citizen-centric approach to tackling crime and criminality is a big plus for democratic practice and governance.”
The Governor charged members of the committees to discharge their tasks with patriotism, integrity and diligence, saying their membership was a “rare privilege” and an opportunity to serve Lagos and the nation.
“I urge you all to be bold and innovative in the work of developing and implementing the necessary operational guidelines and procedures that will promote and sustain mutual trust, respect and confidence between the people and security agencies, and make Lagos State a no-go area for all those who seek to undermine our security,” Sanwo-Olu said.
To further take the initiative down to neighbourhoods and draw more participation from residents at the grassroots, Sanwo-Olu said the State Government would be constituting additional committees, which will include: Area Command Community Policing Advisory Committee, Local Government Community Policing Advisory Committee, and Divisional Community Policing Committee.
The Governor also used the occasion to re-assure all security formations in the State of his administration’s commitment to support their activities by providing equipment and resources through the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF) and other interventions.
Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in charge of Training at the Force Headquarters in Abuja, Mr. David Folawiyo, who represented the IGP, said the nation had reached a point where the police must interface with community members in maintaining social order.
“It is a bottom-up approach that shift focus on reactive law enforcement to proactive problem solving,” he said.
Other members of SCPAC include: Heads of security agencies in the State, representative of Police Community Relations Committee (PCRC), Apostle Kehinde Sowemimo, representative of the Lagos Muslim Community, Sheikh Sulaiman Abou-Nolla, representative of the Lagos chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Apostle Alexander Bamgbola, representatives of three senatorial districts in Lagos.
Membership of SPAC includes: representative of the Commissioner of Police, DCP Etim Oqua Efiom; representative of traditional institution, Oba Momodu Ashafa; Muslim community, Bashorun Sikiru Alabi; CAN representative, Bishop Stephen Adegbite; PCRC representative, Prince Yemi Adenowo; representative of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Mrs. Blessing Abiri; representative of the Lagos chapter of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, Mr. Lookman Aminu; representative of people living with disabilities, Hon. Israel Akiode, representative of the Nigeria Bar Association, Prince Dele Oloke, and representative of the Lagos chapter of National Council of Women Societies, Alhaja Sikirat Agoro.