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Accountability, ICT and Effective Policing In Nigeria

The desire of this present administration to promote digital technology and transparency is obvious from various policies and programs being implemented by various Ministries, Departments,…

The desire of this present administration to promote digital technology and transparency is obvious from various policies and programs being implemented by various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies. But the flip side may be the inability of the Federal Government to focus more on accountability, efficiency and deployment of technology in security agencies’ operations.

It is a well-known fact that Nigeria is not maximizing the use of technology in the security sector and this has great implications for the society at large. People’s businesses have been ruined; innocent citizens get killed unnecessarily and the benefit of the agricultural transformation has been relatively eroded because of the slow adoption of digital technology and the inability to hold public officers accountable in the country.

When Nigerians sleep at night, our security apparatus also goes to sleep, especially when it rains. Rarely would you find police patrol vehicles moving around despite the fact that there is no CCTV installed to monitor the street, day and night.

The response of our security agencies to the main function of policing the environment is reactive and their action to the crime scene is abysmal and poor in this digital age, and this is due to corruption from top to bottom of the hierarchy of our security agencies.

There have been numerous complaints by citizens that some police officers’ attitudes to their official complaints at the stations that require urgency are not encouraging. Some police officers also have the effrontery to tell them that there are no operational vehicles to move to crime scenes.

Despite the fact that the majority of households strive to have basic protection by employing private security guards, the criminals also device means of cooperation by ganging up in large numbers to attack homes, business outlets, and villages. The superior numbers during their crime activities had defeated initial efforts of individuals hiring one or two private guards.

It is rare to see police patrol vehicles moving around in the night, especially during the rainy season. You will never see policemen kitted for raining seasons that would have allowed them to perform optimally despite the fact that procurement of operational vehicles, raincoat, torchlights and others continue to appear every year in the budget of the Nigerian Police.

Privte sector and non-governmental organizations, as well as state governments, have supported Nigerian Police with numerous vehicles to enhance their operations in the country but within a year, most of these operational vehicles are not on the road for official duty. Who is auditing Nigerian Police assets? Where are these vehicles?

There is no doubt that the Federal Government’s effort toward digitalizing Nigeria’s economy is gradually taking shape through the resilient and visionary steps of the present Minister of Communications and Digital Economy in the formulation and implementation of policies for digital Nigeria.

The Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy gave explicit directives to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to work with telecom companies to resolve the issue of 9.2 million unregistered Sim cards in the country. This has been one of the issues that have been in the front burner with the security agencies in the country. Foot-dragging in the sector by telecom operators in the area of cooperating with security agencies has led to aggravation and aiding of kidnapping and terrorism in the country.

The Minister also charged the newly inaugurated Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Board to ensure that SIM cards and BVN are linked up with the National Digital Identity. The digital database is meant to foster economic growth and easy identification of Nigerians.

According to the Minister, the main responsibility of government is the protection of lives and properties and it would be a great injustice to allow criminals to use the platform under the supervision and regulation of the Ministry to perpetrate crime.

Digital identity is critical for digital economic development and crime prevention and it is good judgment on the part of the Federal Government to move the National Identity Card Commission (NIMC) to the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy for effective and efficient supervision.

Bolaji O. Kazeem writes from Abuja