The Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi has advocated a multi-level approach in tackling security challenges in the country, urging government to develop an enduring national security policy.
The governor canvassed the position at a public lecture entitled: “Perspectives on Security Challenges in Nigeria from 1999 to 2019: The Way Forward,” organised by the Yoruba Tennis Club in Lagos to mark its 93rd anniversary.
This is just as Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari disclosed that a delegation of government officials from Niger Republic and their counterparts from Nigeria are billed to meet tomorrow with leaders of bandits from the two countries in Jibia Local Government Area of Katsina State, to brainstorm on how to end cross-border banditry and other nefarious activities bedeviling the two countries.
Jibia is a border town between Katsina State and Niger Republic, which is believed to be a stronghold of bandits from Niger Republic, who are terrorising Zamfara, Kaduna, Niger and Katsina states.
Masari said the on-going discussions with leaders of bandits terrorising the North-west of the country is aimed at stopping the escalating violence in the region, pointing out that dialogue has become an option following failure kinetic option.
He said discussions had shown that the bandits had understandable reasons for their actions, explaining that government felt that it was better to address their issues in order to find a lasting solution to the violence that had claimed many lives and property in the region.
Ekiti governor at a different forum said said it had become imperative for government to look at other mechanism, in addition to military, in addressing insecurity in the country.
In a statement on Sunday by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Yinka Oyebode, Fayemi said Nigeria must consider decentralising security and law enforcement from the federal to state down to the community.
He added that partnership in the security sector and inter-agency collaboration must be encouraged to bring about effective policing of both land and coastal regions of the country.
The governor called for a reform of the Nigeria Police Force in line with what is obtainable from the criminal justice system by strengthening its capacity to carry out investigations without political interference.
He said: “From a strategic point of view, it is necessary that the military’s role as an elite specialist weapon of last resort be fastidiously preserved while we leverage other resources and tools that are part of the security sector’s arsenal. This means re-tooling, re-training and re-arming the police force – much neglected in the scheme of security planning and recognising their premier role in the field of law enforcement and the first line in national security management.
“Effective policing in a democratic environment requires the civilianisation of the service. The portrait of the Nigerian police officer wielding an assault rifle is an unflattering portrayer that conveys the impression that it is a military unit and entrenches a misconception of identity in the minds of the police operatives themselves.
He said no reform of the police force would be complete without a corresponding wide-ranging reform of the nation’s weak criminal justice system, explaining that prosecutors, the judiciary and the correctional institutions were strategic partners with the police service in the law enforcement and security architecture.
“Thus, for example, strengthening the capacity of the police to carry out investigations will count for very little if the accused can be released from jail for political reasons,” he said.
Fayemi said over 10 million small arms and light weapons are traceable to West Africa with Nigeria having the largest number. This, he added, accounted largely for the security challenges being experienced in many parts of the country.
“The proliferation of small arms is partly the concomitant effect of the weakening of states in the post-cold war era. The world has become awash with small arms and light weapons since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Indeed it is estimated that over 10 million of such weapons are traced to West Africa according to the Small Arms Survey,” he said.
The governor explained that the region’s most recent crisis had been caused by a convergence of drought, food insecurity, ecological degradation, political instability, conflict and the large number of internally displaced people and refugees.
He explained further that the problem of weak states had permitted a number of non-state actors, including gangs, arms dealers, rebel groups, drug dealers and terrorists to flourish in the region.
“Added to this is Nigeria’s extensive and porous borders covering over 4,000 kilometers littered with illegal entry points and routes totaling 1,500 points. With the porous borders, criminal gangs and terrorist insurgents easily smuggle weapons into the country, which in turn are sold to Niger Delta oil bunkerers, South-east kidnappers and other purveyors of violence in the Nigerian state,” Fayemi said.
He also spoke about maritime security, saying it was not only important in terms of protecting the exploitation of maritime resources, particularly, off-shore oil, but also in terms of securing livelihoods and development.
Piracy,he pointed out, was a growing phenomenon in our coastal waters and posed a serious threat to security in the sub-region.
Fayemi added that security should be taken as everyone’s concern because: “Securing our communities means that infrastructure and urban planning must be guided not only by environmental impact assessment reports but also by security considerations.”