Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, has advocated the need for the establishment of state police and recruitment of well-trained vigilantes to tackle the rising challenges of banditry, kidnapping and allied security issues bedevilling the country.
He said this on Tuesday in Abuja while speaking on a panel discussion during the 2nd Shinkafi Intelligence and Security Summit organised by the Umaru Shinkafi Legacy Foundation.
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Governor Bello said state police, “is an idea, whose time has come”, adding: “We can’t continue to avoid the issue of state police forever, even if it’s not now, certainly, sometimes to come because Nigeria’s population has gone beyond 200 million.”
He said his state is one of those suffering greatly from insecurity, adding that from inception, he tried a conciliatory approach but later discovered “that these groups are mere criminals, who are not ready to stop criminality because of its lucrative nature.”
He said his government had to take a painful decision of not negotiating with the criminals having discovered that they have grown into a very formidable network with handy informants.
“When we have tip-off and troops are deployed, the bandits get wind of their movement and relocate.”
He suggested the rework and review of the Nigerian intelligence network to enhance intelligence gathering and fight against crimes and criminality.
Bello also emphasised the need for the involvement of traditional and religious leaders in tackling banditry.
“In tackling kidnapping and banditry, the role of traditional rulers and religious leaders in our society cannot be over-emphasised.
“Traditional rulers and religious leaders should be supported to effectively check their domains and subjects.
“Also, our religious leader have immense influence over worshippers.”
While commending the Foundation for sustaining the legacies of Alhaji Umaru Ali Shinkafi, Governor Bello described Shinkafi as a “sterling police officer, astute lawyer and professional security expert, whose footprints still radiate in our contemporary security situations today.”
He said that incorporating vigilantes in fighting insecurity was the way to go, but added that the members must be properly trained and must be people of impeccable characters.
In his discussion, Borno State Governor, Babagana Umara Zulum, identified three key areas that could have a positive impact on the war against banditry viz, access to functional education, access to food and access to health.
He explained that insecurity retards economic development because kidnapping and banditry have a negative impact on food security, which he identified as the worst form of insecurity.
Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, on his part, bemoaned the dwindling inflow of Foreign Direct Investment, FDI, which he said was caused by insecurity.
He urged a grassroots approach to tackle insecurity given the vast nature of the country.
Governor Muhammed Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State advocated the need for grassroots policing and inter-state border control, saying allowing Fulani herdsmen open grazing would be very dangerous.