The governors of South West Nigeria launched an ambitious security outfit recently. It’s coded named after the leopard. It is aimed at curbing banditry, kidnapping and maruading herdsmen. In the wave of growing insecurity across the country, it seems a good idea. As usual with anything in Nigeria, people are not offering critical analysis. Everyone is jumping on an emotional bandwagon.
It’s quite unfortunate that 60 years after independence, we still have a hammer and garrison approach to security. Our security apparatus is still largely built on guns, bullets, knives and vehicles.
Boko Haram, bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers amongst others have become a growing threat to the populace in the last ten years. Poverty, lack of jobs, porous borders and literacy have been pointed fingers at as the root of these evil trends by scholars. Those less scholarly inclined raise their fingers to primordial sentiments. It has been claimed without empirical evidence that some groups (ethnic and religious) want to lord it over others and control resources.
The fears are real. However the process of solving the problems from top to bottom have not been systematic. Amotekun is another wild goose chase.
Before now, we have seen various psuedo-security agencies across Nigeria: OPC boys, Bakkasi Boys, Yan Banga, Katon Dogora, Civilian JTF, Niger Delta Vigilantes amongs a multitude others. What thread holds them together? A resort to brute force and prejudices to combat crime.
Amotekun like the others before it is a knee jerk solution to a problem that requires a bit more cerebral approaches. Using universal theories, I wil juxtapose Amotekun with regular security approaches.
Data is an essential tool for any planning activity. One of the greatest challenges of the Nigerian Police and Armed Forces in combating crime is the lack of data. We have not been able to organise data for our communities based on demography, immigration, emigration, occupation etc. That’s why the police can just randomly arrest people without facts based on prejudice. A murder occurs and the police raids the community arresting random people. Does the Nigerian Police have a database of arrests and conviction assessable to other security agencies? Does Amotekun offer anything different? Will it not be business as usual of arresting people who fit into personal stereotypes of criminals? Boys with tattoos and dreadlocks, people from particular tribal features, women in mini skirts and so on.
Understanding of Crime
There is too much speculation about what is crime in Nigeria. There is a confusing or rather mixing up of personal morality and crime. Add religious indoctrination to the mix and our security agents get twisted. I once witnessed a policeman harassing a girl because she was wearing a mini skirt at night. “Ashawo” he screemed, as he flagged down her bike. I have been spoken to rudely by police officers because I was coming home by 3am. One of the officers told me I was irresponsible for being out at that time. Another went as far as accusing me of abandoning my family to go clubbing. I was like “udonmeanit!”
Is there any law in Nigeria that prohibits women from wearing mini skirts or trousers? Is it a crime to stay out late with friends? Is going to club a crime? Will Amotekun members be any different?
Since I was born and now I am getting old, I have never seen a computer in a local police station, brethren have you seen? Guns and bullets are not enough to curb crimes. Do our security agencies have face, voice recognition software and hardware? Do they have forensic technology? Are our local police stations connected to any database? Are they researching into technology that would help them penetrate difficult terrains? I watched the movie “Code Name Geronimo”, the American security forces were teleguided from Washington DC to carry out an operation in Pakistan. Have our service chiefs worked out such arrangements? Is Amotekun equipped to do better?
From the above, it begs the question that we have no security system in place to ally the fears of the community. Security in the 21st century goes beyond operations where agents shoot their way to capture or kill criminals. Security goes beyond arresting people. Security is a scientific operation and agents have to be a step ahead of the enemy. We can do better.
The Way Forward
The leopard has to go beyond its teeth and claws. It needs to be fitted with sophisticated devices.
The governors instead of unleashing the leopard on the people, should channel resources into building a proper security database. The Kaduna state government is doing something in the regard with its citizen residency program.
The database development should include building structures, comprehensive street maps, forensic records etc. This will make the work of policing easier.
The leopard cannot run on bad infrastructure. Good roads, internet, modern gadgets are essential for any security operation.
Namse Peter Udosen
Namse is a teacher and researcher.