(Being the text of news briefing by Police, NIPOST Security Initiative Advocacy Group (PONSIAG) on Wednesday, December 2, 2020.)
It is my singular honour and pleasure to welcome you members of the Press to this briefing.
Our hearts go out to the families of Nigerian youths and policemen who lost their precious lives during and after the #EndSARS protests across the country. To Nigerian youths who protested peacefully, for an end to Police brutality and extra-judicial killings, your struggle was not in vain! Your voices have been heard loud and clear by Federal government. To this end, calculated steps are being taken by government towards reforming the Nigeria Police. Government promise to implement the Five (5) point demand from Nigerian youths is a huge victory. We also commend the genuine effort of State governments in ensuring justice for the families of those who died, and those who suffered in the hand of now disbanded SARS, with the setting up of judicial panels. We hope that in the end, justice will be served.
This press briefing is superficially called to appreciate the adroit and statesmanly manner President Muhammadu Buhari(GCFR) handled the recent #EndSARS protests across the country; as well as appeal to Mr. President to proclaim PONSI, Police, NIPOST Security Initiative (Anonymous Mail-In Crime Report) by Executive Order, to serve as Independent Driver of Policing, particularly, Federal Government-led Community Policing in Nigeria. We are of the view that President Buhari’s seal of approval of PONSI, which will automatically make every Nigerian a whistle blower on insecurity; is a strategic security measure the country needs now.
We, Police, NIPOST Security Initiative Advocacy Group (PONSIAG) are particularly touched by President Muhammadu Buhari’s appeal to Nigerian youths on November 1, 2020, through the press release from his Senior Special Assistant (Media & Publicity), Garba Shehu. The title of his appeal to the youths reads: “PRESIDENT BUHARI TO NIGERIAN YOUTHS: END STREET PROTESTES, DIALOUGE WITH GOVERNMENT ON POLICE REFORM”. On behalf of Nigerian youths, we are taking advantage of President Buhari’s sincere appeal and clarion call for ideas on Police reform, to put forward our suggestion on this crucial reform. Good enough, PONSIAG, and its partner, have been interfacing with Federal Government agencies on how to prevent and fightaz1 insecurity in an effective and efficient manner in Nigeria.
PONSIAG believes that #NigeriansLivesMatter, and that one of the ways the lives of Nigerians, particularly the youths can be protected is through Anonymous Mail-In Crime Report. We are happy to suggest the way forward after #EndSARS protest; which was largely triggered by the vexed issue of TRUST between Nigerians and men of the Nigeria Police Force. Going forward, we are suggesting that Federal Government implements PONSI (Anonymous Mail-In Crime Report) as a pragmatic way of solving the problem of TRUST in Policing in Nigeria. We are pleased to inform Nigerians that PONSI has multi-dimensional mechanisms, capable of significantly solving Policing and Security problems in Nigeria.
PONSIAG is a nationalistic pressure group, committed to the Initiation of a Protective Whistle Blowing Policy on Insecurity in Nigeria, via Anonymous Mail-In Crime Report. We are in total support of the Federal Government-led Community Policing. Currently, we are mobilizing support for FG-led Community Policing in Nigeria. PONSIAG is however, strongly opposed to State Governments-led Community Policing being canvassed in some quarters. We believe in Nigerian model of Community Policing. It could be recalled that following persistent call by Nigerians for the establishment of Community Policing, as the only solution to insecurity in the country, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR), on May 1, 2020, approved community policing under the current Federal Police structure. Critics of this variant of Policing are still insisting that Community Police should be controlled by State governments, as being practiced in the US and Britain. This obsession with foreign Community Policing without proper evaluation of issues, in some quarters is what PONSIAG also seeks to correct through advocacy.
PONSG(Anonymous Mail-In Crime Report) has an inbuilt mechanism that takes care of the concerns of State Governors, in terms of not having control over Commissioners’ of Police in their respective states. The mechanism gives the Governors opportunity to conduct One Time Performance Audit (OTPA) on Police leadership in his State, with respect to the collaboration. In line with the principles of democratic best practice, Chief Executives are not to “quid pro quo” an officer of the law, whose mandate is constitutionally established. However, a Chief Executive can rely on data from credible agency of the State, to fact-check or evaluate the performance of such officer. Consequently, a Governor can rely on data from Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) or NIPOST, to conduct performance audit on a commissioner of police in his state, with respect to PONSI. It is without doubt that “Just like blood sustains life, verifiable data from credible agency of the State sustains democracy”.
PONSIAG believes that the President was right in adopting what can be called “Federal Government-led Community Policing”. Our support for this novel variant of Policing is principally based on the multi-ethnic nature of Nigeria, and the problems that will surely arise from the wholesale adoption of US or British Community Policing model (State Policing). It is our sincere believe that PONSI will serve as an Independent Driver of the Federal Government-led Community Policing in Nigeria. As it stands now, many Nigerians erroneously believe that the adoption of FG-led Community Policing without legislation is a panic reaction to the formation of Regional Policing structure in the Southwest and other parts of the country. We are therefore urging that the President should follow up the laudable approval given for Federal-led Community Policing by proclaiming PONSIG (Anonymous Mail-In Crime Report) through Executive Order. PONSIG is not only capable of serving as independent but complementary driver of FG-led Community Policing, but will also serve as the only remarkable difference between regular Federal Policing and FG-led Community Policing; particularly when viewed from the angle that Federal variant of Community Policing is not a function of any legislation in Nigeria.
The urgent need for Executive Order on the proposed partnership between Police and NIPOST is premised on the devastating physiological impact it will have on masterminds of politically motivated crimes “so-called Fulani Herdsmen killing, Banditry, Kidnapping, Terrorism, Organized Armed Robbery” in Nigeria. By the Executive Order from the President alone, about 70% of politically motivated security problem in Nigeria would have been solved. Security experts and military strategists like Sun Tzu said, quote, “It is more important to outthink your enemies than outfighting them”. So, if the President proclaims PONSI (Anonymous Mail-In Crime Report) via Executive Order, he would have succeeded in outthinking the enemies of Nigeria, who are probably the masterminds of politically motivated crimes in the country. According to security experts, any crime that is not motivated by economic gain is surely political in nature, probably aimed at bringing down the government in power.
It is our strong believe that the President, through this proclamation, would have taken the wind out of the sail of the proponents of State Governments-led Community Policing, which is potentially fraught with problems. Potentially, States Governments-led Community Policing could lead to eruption of Inter-ethnic war in multiethnic States that makeup Nigeria. We all know that Nigeria has about Three Hundred and Seventy One (371) ethnic groups, and so any activation of State Governments-led Community Policing may lead to struggle for dominance between ethnic groups in multiethnic States. The boundary clashes between States may escalate. State Governments-led Community Policing may also lead to emergency Confederation without legislation; as it will lead to Regional Policing in two homogeneous zones in Nigeria – Southeast and the Southwest. This scenario may not be palatable for Nigeria as a sovereign nation.
State Governments-led Community Policing may potentially lead to what was witnessed in the United States. It appeared Democrat controlled States in US deliberately encouraged anarchy in the name of #BlackLivesMatter demonstrations; just to paint Donald Trump in bad colour ahead November 3, 2020 Presidential election in the US. Supposing America is currently operating Federal-led Community Policing, the situation in terms of violent demonstrations may not be the case. In a nutshell, State Governments-led Community Policing, in almost a two party system currently in Nigeria, may lead to anarchy of unimaginable proportion.
We in PONSIAG are canvassing for a Protective Whistle Blowing Initiative on Insecurity in Nigeria. The proposal on the security collaboration, Police, NIPOST Security Initiative (PONSI) has reached advanced stage. In fact, the two agencies showed interest in the collaboration, in view of the security challenge facing the nation. The collaboration is sequel to a proposal submitted to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) on 14th January 2020, by Gilt-Edge Global Concepts, a Management and Strategic Security Consulting outfit, based in Abuja. On the 12th of February 2020, OSGF, in reply to the proposal, directed that it should be routed to the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) directly for necessary action. The two agencies have separately deliberated on the principles of the proposal and have indicated satisfaction that the initiative will go a long way in helping to solve the current security problem in Nigeria.
What makes PONSI (Anonymous Mail-In Crime Report) unique is that it will provide Nigerians the opportunity of checking or exposing the real masterminds of Fulani Herdsmen, Bandits, Kidnappers, Terrorists and Organized armed robbery etc in Nigeria. The protective nature of the whistle blowing initiative will lead to the unmasking of the people behind these crimes without retribution. PONSI also has multidimensional application. The way and manner elites in Nigeria are going about the issue of State Governments-led Community policing, shows that the agitation may become even stronger as we move towards 2023 general elections. This is the more reason why the Executive Order on this vital initiative is imperative now. Good enough, PONSI has an inbuilt mechanism that gives the Governors the power to oversight the performance of Police Commissioners in their respective states. So, the recurring excuse by them (Governors) that, “we are just the chief security officers in our states on paper, in reality, the Police Commissioners are not answerable to us”, will become a thing of the past, when PONSI comes on board.
PONSI proposal speaks to the heart of #EndSARS protest. The truth about security is that if a security operative knows that any illegal or unprofessional conduct on his part will be reported immediately, he will behave in accordance with what the law assigns to him and nothing more. In fact, PONSI will enthrone Smart Policing Philosophy (SPP) because of its proactive inclination. In PONSI where Anonymous Mail-In Crime Report will be deployed, the new slogan will be #NigeriansLivesMatter. Here, any Nigerian can comfortably report crime without retribution. For instance, what any Nigerian wishing to report a crime needs to do, is to go to any NIPOST office nearer to him to fill a simple questioner. After that, he will be issued a Code by NIPOST. The Code will serve as receipt for registering his letter (questioner) as the questioner to be filled is to be Stamp posted. Technically, the Code now becomes a Tracker in the hand of the Anonymous Crime Reporter.
However, the Trackers in the hands of Nigerians will serve as a reminder to Chief Security Officers (the President and the Governors) that the social contract between them and Nigerians should be respected. This will make them to be conscious of their responsibility as Chief Security Officers. According to John Locke’s social contract theory, “the only right people give up in order to enter into civil society and its benefits is the right to punish other people for violating rights. No other rights are given up, only the right to be a vigilante”--. Since the social contract presupposes that “people must not be judges in their own cases”, it follows that, should Police brutality, extra-judicial killings and insecurity continue, the Trackers in the hands of Nigerians could serve as evidence to show that Chief Security Officers (the President and the Governors) have failed to provide effective leadership.
PONSIAG, on the other hand, is further encouraged by what Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu NPM, mni, said about recently inaugurated Special Weapons and Tactical (SWAT) team. He specifically assured that SWAT will be “strictly intelligent-driven”. What this means is that PONSI (Anonymous Mail-In Crime Report) will play a crucial role in enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of SWAT because of its emphasis on massive 24/7 intelligence supply without jeopardizing Confidentiality.
There is no doubt the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government has achieved a lot through Executive Orders. This, too, will surely add to these lofty achievements. In fact, PONSI draws inspiration from the success of the whistle blower policy on corruption of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
With respect to effective Policing in Nigeria, this is our sincere, concrete and practical idea on the way forward. We look forward to the proclamation and take-off of this important initiative.
Police, NIPOST Security Initiative Advocacy Group(PONSIG)
December 2, 2020.