REGIONAL POLICING AND CRIME REDUCTION IN NIGERIA: A CASE STUDY OF AMOTEKUN

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CHAPTER ONE/INTRODUCTION

Background to the Study

Crime is in the society is viewed as one of the most factual occurrence which confront people in this modern age (Giddens, 2004). Ehindero, Inspector General of Police stated in a lecture delivered to Participants of National War College, Abuja that ‘perhaps the most potent threat to national security of any country is crime. Ugwuoke (2010) pointed out that crime and criminality are as old as mankind. Marshall (2008) revealed that crime is a global feature of all human societies. The reason for this according to Marshall is because there is no human society where norms and values are not violated, from the simplest hunting and gathering societies to the most complex civilized societies. It is because of this universal character of crime that every society is expected to have ‘specific mechanisms for the overall interest and wellbeing of the generality of the populace’ (Igbo, 2007).

Ezuugwu (2011) noted that Nigerian society is taking a dangerous path, a path to nowhere (crime leads to nowhere but destruction), a path to destruction. That the society is really adrift, a regrettable drifts, sustained by a wave of criminality and lawlessness. That Nigerians these days sleep with one eye closed because of the fear of the rampaging effects of armed robbery and other associated crimes. Each day comes with its stories of one form of crime or the other. Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves because the society prepares the crime while the criminals commit it. Failure of government to meet up with its basic duties of meeting the primary needs of the citizen, criminal activities keeps increasing in the society.

Alemika and Chukwuma (2000) noted that as a result of police inefficiency and ineffectiveness in crime prevention and control, detection and apprehension of criminals, poor rule of law records, the violation of human rights, lack of accountability, incivility and wide-scale corruption, the public holds the police in low esteem and is fearful of their brutality, extortion and ineffectiveness. The public loss of trust and confidence in the police and in the state, in the face of unrelenting upsurge in violent crimes in the society, necessitated the advent and formation of informal policing strategies, otherwise known as vigilantism or neighbourhood watch (Abrahansen & Williams, 2005). Increasing attention has been given to informal policing, and it is seen as a rational response of poor communities to the weak criminal justice system, with regards to low policing and high levels of criminality (Adewale, 2007). Despite this development, the nation still finds it difficult to integrate the activities of the informal police sector into mainstream policing in Nigeria.

The most frequently recorded mechanism by which vigilante and neighborhood watch is supposed to reduce crime is by arresting anyone with suspicious activities and reporting these to the police. The relationship between reporting and crime reduction is not always well explained in the literature. More so, it has been argued that close surveillance might prevent crime as a result of its effect on the views and decision making of potential offenders. Hence, watching and reporting might deter offenders if they are aware of the propensity of the local residents to report suspicious behavior and if they perceive this as increasing the risks of being caught.

Consequently, vigilante/neighborhood watch can be an option that can enhance the effectiveness of the police force in Nigeria. Neigbourhood watch is perhaps the most popular and most demanded policing method among the law enforcement agencies, and has been implemented by many countries including United States, Germany and India. In the United States, where neighbourhood watch practices started with decentralized police systems, neighbourhood watch is accepted as a philosophy and practice that has been recognized as the most important contemporary police innovation designed to reduce crime and ensure effective policing (Zhoe, 2003).

Regional policing as a crime reduction approach is a security system in which members of the public are involved in the conduct of protecting their territories to aid the efforts of the police in crime control by supplying useful information to law enforcement agencies in the neighbourhood (Eke, 2009). In regional policing, the community is always expected to involving in the policing duty through volunteer schemes, establishing neighbourhood support systems and augmenting police patrol activities.

Regional policing in Nigeria is a security strategy being adopted as an alternative or supplementary effort from the immediate community to buttress the efforts of police force in combating crime and criminal activities. As a matter of fact the police in Nigeria cannot sustain or maintain crime free communities without voluntary local efforts to complement theirs. It is also believed that the people residing in a particular community can easily identify those people perpetrating evils in their immediate milieu and will be easy for them in tracking them down, They have adequate knowledge of geographical settings of their areas.

Regional policing in Nigeria takes different forms ranging from community development association (CDA). Peace and security committee, landlords and tenants security harmony in which certain able bodied men in the community are grouped to watch over the community rotationally, civilian joint task force (in the northern region), Vigilante service group etc.

Regional policing in Nigeria has aided the Nigeria police and other security agencies in crime prevention in each areas as a result of the cordial relationship between the community people on security and security agencies which has aided the security agencies to cut down evil perpetrators/criminals in various societies. In spite of these conscious efforts it is still noticed that there is no harmonious working relationship between the police and the communities in the south west Nigeria.

Brief Background of Amotekun

Operation Amotekun (Leopard) was established on 9 January 2020 by the six state governors of all the South Western states of Nigeria, namely; Lagos State, Oyo State, Ogun State, Ondo State, Osun State and Ekiti State.The establishment of the security outfit was subject to the decision by all the six state governors at the regional security summit held in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria on June 2019 through Development Agenda for Western Nigeria Commission (DAWN). In support of the outfit, all the six state governors contributed 20 vehicles each, except Oyo that contributed 33 vehicles, in order to assist the operatives in carrying out their duties, making a total of 133 vehicles for the startup, they also procured 100 units of motorcycles each, making a total of 600 motorcycles. The members of the outfit were drawn from local hunters, the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Agbekoya, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and vigilante group.Amotekun, which is a Yoruba word, is Leopard in English.

Statement of the Problem

There is no cooperative effort between the community people and the police in curtailing crime in south-west Nigeria and there are certain challenges facing effective regional policing in Nigeria such as attitude, facilities, lack of proper training of officers, poor infrastructural facilities, logistics, godfatherism among others. This thesis examines the various strategies to tackle these problems and basically considers the perceptions of the police on regional policing and that of the community members as a way of finding the missing link between the people and the police.

Research Questions

 

  1. To what extent is the awareness of the existence of  Amotekun regional policing to citizens of south-west Nigeria?
  2. To what extent does regional policing  in the view of Amotekun help in preventing crimes in south-west Nigeria?
  3. To what extent do people and police support regional policing in south-west Nigeria?
  4. What are the Challenges/problems of effective regional policing in south-west Nigeria?

Objectives of the Study

The objective of this study is to examine Regional policing and crime management in Nigeria. South West security network (Amotekun) in perspective.. However, the specific objectives are:

  1. To determine the extent of the people awareness of regional policing in south west Nigeria.
  2. To determine how regional policing has helped to reduce crime in south west Nigeria.
  3. To identify challenges facing effective regional policing in south west Nigeria.
  4. To proffer possible solutions to the identified problems of regional policing in south west Nigeria.

Significance of the Study

The study has both theoretical and practical significance. Theoretically, regional policing has not received adequate research in Africa and especially in Nigeria compared to the extensive researches that have been carried out in the United States and United Kingdom. For this study will be theoretically significant because its findings will help to close the gap created by lack of existing literatures on regional policing as a strategy for crime reduction in Nigeria. It will be an addition to the body of existing sociological, criminological and criminal justice literatures particularly in the area of crime reduction strategies. It will also stimulate further research on regional policing in this part of sub-Sahara Africa, and Nigeria in particular. Practically, the study will also draw the attention of the police on the need to strengthen their relationship with the members of the community where they are working, for effective crime reduction. The findings of this study will help South Westerners in particular and Nigeria Government at large to plan on how to improve regional policing. The findings will also help the general public to understand how the regional policing enhances or lowers effective crime control when properly applied. Finally, the outcome of the study will no doubt help in the prevention of crime and social disorder, and be a useful material to research students of criminology, law, law enforcement agents and public administrators for a crime free society.

Scope of the Study

            This study on regional policing and crime reduction in Nigeria: a case study of Amotekun in South western part of Nigeria will be carried out in three states namely: Oyo, Ekiti and Ondo States. It is believed that the Governors of these states are the forces behind the establishment of this security agency. Therefore, the people of these states will be selected for this study.

Limitation of the study

Major problems encountered were time constraints, validity and reliability of the sources or materials. The researcher was faced with the problem of meeting with the security agents like the Nigeria Police, Vigilante group, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and the likes as they were not willing to give adequate information needed for this research

Definition of Terms

The following basic concepts are operationalized for easy comprehension of the study: Regional Policing: It is a collaborative effort between the police and the members of the public to identify the problems of crime and disorder and to develop solutions from within the community in crime reduction.

Crime: Crime in this study means any action which contravenes the laws established by political authority.

Crime Control: In this study, crime control is the means of solving crime problems, arresting suspects, processing and incapacitating offenders by the members of society, agents and the criminal justice system.

Crime Fighting Policing: This is the kind of policing that do not need the collaboration of the member of the society in crime control/fight but solely depend on themselves to dictate and control crime example is the police we have during military era.

Crime Prevention: In this study, it is the present interventions in stopping future crime.

Crime Reduction: It is all the effort from the people and the government to reduce the rate of crime in a given society.

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