Tafa Balogun who was the Guest Lecturer at the event also called for better welfare for the police and constitutional empowerment of traditional rulers, as he revealed how retired IGPs have been given the task of driving the community policing initiative in allocated states across the country.
The former Police boss who expressed appreciation be part of the rebirth of Community Policing, recalled how he introduced the concept as a Philosophy when he became IGP in 2002 and made it one of his 8-point agenda.
He also recalled how he sent officers to Britain for six months to train as community policing officers, after seeing how it had reduced crimes in some European countries and the United States.
According to him, “We have all come to the conclusion that we cannot jettison the same police institution that we served. We’ll give the moral and whatever support to it. Don’t forget that the Nigerian community is our own, whether you’re from Sokoto, Osun, Lagos, Abia, Rivers or whatever. We cannot afford a communication gap between the community and the police. And that is the essence of community policing.
“Nobody is happy with what happened during the EndSARS protests when policemen were traumatized and killed. Barracks were burnt; the Oba of Lagos’ palace was vandalized. That was an abomination. We don’t treat our leaders like that. Things wouldn’t have been like that if there was no communication gap between the police and the community.
“If Community Policing has been put in place properly, that type of pandemonium would not have reared its head. I’m particularly unhappy to see police officers pulling their uniforms when outside. I issued a statement and asked them to go back to work because we are the first line of defense for the country as enshrined in the constitution.
“It’s painful, but we have to put the incident behind us. So, that is the first point why I have to champion the cause of community policing. With Community Policing, we could have avoided that senseless destruction of lives and properties… Police officers should know that self-defense is the first law of nature. Next time, let us defend ourselves…
“Now, we have shared the responsibilities, three states per IGP. Alhaji Aliyu Atta is in Abuja, Kogi, and Kwara. Ogbonna Onovo is somewhere in the East. Suleiman Abba is somewhere in the North. Arase, etc. We are sending the same message across.”
Balogun, who also spoke about how he introduced Community Policing as a philosophy and organizational strategy into the Nigerian policing dictionary, said that there would be a symbiotic relationship between the police and the community if the communication gap was closed.
He recommended a rectangular synergy that means the Police on one corner, the stakeholders on another corner, government on third corner and traditional institutions on the fourth corner.
He added, “Empower the traditional rulers, and restore their potency that was taken away by the colonial masters.”
Oba Akiolu in his comment, urged Policemen to be disciplined, civil, improve on their educational background and always remember that they are paid with tax payers’ money.
He also spoke about the recent EndSARS protest against police brutality, adding that although he lost so much when his palace was vandalized, the incident did not increase his blood pressure. He expressed optimism that Nigeria would emerge stronger and prayed that God should forgive those who were behind the attack because they knew not what they were doing.
The IGP, Mohammed Adamu, ably represented by the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) in charge of Research and Planning, Mr Adeleye Oyebade told the audience from the military, DSS, NSCDC, Community, Religious, market and trade union leaders that he has brought up the concept of Community Policing to address all heinous crimes in the Nigerian society.
He said, “We are not only preaching community policing, we want to practice it. I am bringing good tidings to all of you in Lagos State, in mindful of the nature and structure of Lagos in the Nigerian project. Lagos is the centerpiece. If anything happens in Lagos, it affects the whole country. That’s why we are commencing the sensitization in Lagos State”.
“What we are doing now engaging retired Inspectors General of Police to come out and speak to people and let them know what community policing is all about.”
According to Oyebade who described the programme as part of the IGP’s transformational agenda, the sensitization in Lagos, Oyo, and Osun will be handled by Mr Tafa Balogun; Ondo, Ekiti, and Ogun, by Mr Sunday Ehindero; Rivers, Cross Rivers and Akwa Ibom by Mr Mike Okiro, and the Federal Capital Territory, Kwara, and Kogi, by Alhaji Aliyu Atta, among others.
The event was also graced by the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in charge of Zone ‘2’, Mr Ahmed Iliyasu, and the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr Hakeem Odumosu, who spoke about how the IGP has conceptualized the Community Policing arrangement to bring the police and citizens together to achieve a common goal.