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In FCT, traditional rulers are beacons of security

This new found role of the traditional rulers, in fact, became consolidated by the lack of adequate provision of security by the government, especially in…

This new found role of the traditional rulers, in fact, became consolidated by the lack of adequate provision of security by the government, especially in rural areas, forcing the natural heads of such communities to devise sustainable ways of protecting peoples’ lives and their properties.
Aso Chronicle’s investigations revealed that most security challenges at rural areas in the FCT are managed by community heads with little or no assistance from security agencies, who concentrate their efforts at the urban areas.
Apart from establishing vigilante groups to make up for absence of state-sponsored security outposts in their domains, community heads also personally handle cases bordering on theft, farmers/herdsmen clashes, farm ownership tussles, family disputes, cattle rustling and other minor security challenges.
The vigilante groups police the community, apprehend culprits and make them available to the community head who either solves the problem if it is a minor case or sends the case to relevant security agencies for determination.
Investigations have shown that the community heads assume the role of chief security officers of their domains largely due to absence of police outposts in their communities.
Some communities in the FCT that lack police outposts include Ubo-Saidu, Kafagye, Padaga 2, Ledi 2, Shaji and Gaube in Kuje Area Council; Manderegi in Abaji Area Council; Guidna (built but unoccupied yet), Dutse and Wumba in Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC); Kamadi and Yewuti in Kwali Area Council; Byazhin and Piko in Bwari Area Council; Kaida-Tsoho, Deshi, Kaba, and Gwako (built but unoccupied for the past four years) at Gwagwalada Area Council, just to mention but a few.
As beacons of security, investigations showed that some community heads fund vigilante groups and even provide the volunteers with land to build vigilante offices which then serve as ‘local security outpost’ to residents.
For instance, the head of the vigilante group in Anagada, a community in Gwagwalada Area Council, Yusuf Saliu, said that the community head pays the volunteers aside from providing the group with a land to build its operational office.
“The Dagachi (village head) pays us our stipends. We use the money to carter for our welfare and he pays regularly.”
In some areas, there are well coordinated chains of settling disputes before the relevant state institution is invited to intervene in difficult cases.
Speaking to Aso Chronicle, the Gomo of Kuje, Alhaji Haruna Tanko Jibrin, said that dispute management chain in his domain starts from residents to village heads, district heads and then to the palace of Gomo after which he forwards the case to relevant security agencies if it is beyond what he can handle.
Alhaji Jibrin explained: “It goes from the hamlet heads to the village heads to the district heads. If the hamlet head cannot solve the issue, he calls the attention of the village head, and if he cannot solve the issue, he forwards it to the district head. It is when the district head cannot handle it that he brings it to the palace of Gomo and we proffer solution to the matter.”
This is similar to what is obtained in Zuba, a community in Gwagwalada Area Council where the Agora (community head), Alhaji Mohammed Bello, periodically holds proactive meetings with security stakeholders in his domain to avert any security problem.
Briefing the media after a similar proactive meeting convened by the Agora sometime ago to check farmers/herders feud, his Chief of Staff, Alhaji Mohammed Murtala, said it was part of the responsibility of the Agora to manage conflicts and reduce tension in the community.
In Sunape, Bwari Area Council, residents do not quickly resort to the police or the courts to resolve their differences as the village head, Chief Daniel Barde, acts as the Chief Security Officer of the community.
Barde revealed: “Within this village, we have Council of Chiefs that handles petty quarrels and if the chiefs cannot settle them, they bring them to me to settle the issues. All these occur in the palace and the Council of Chiefs comprises the Madaki, the Walima and so on.”
Furthermore, the village head of Dutse, in Abuja Municipal Area Council, Ishaku Sabagada, has also pointed out how relevant he is in the security arrangement of his community.
“People bring many issues here for me to settle. From people fighting to cases of stolen items, all sorts of cases are solved here. I send the difficult ones to the police. I have their phone numbers,” he said.
Explaining his challenges, he said he personally leads a patrol team around the community at nights since the vigilante group he formed stopped functioning due to lack of funds to sustain its operations.
Meanwhile, the situation is the same at Kafagye, in Kuje Area Council, where the village head, Peter Kaka, said only the cases he cannot handle go to the police.
Kaka said: “I attempt to settle all cases in this village because I have the knowledge and the people trust my judgement.”
He added that any case in the community transferred to the police must be a complex one which requires the attention of some higher authorities.
Further investigation revealed that the village head of Ubo-Saidu in Kuje Area Council mediates between farmers and herdsmen to avert clashes arising from occasional cases of trespasses on farmlands and destruction of crops from activities of herdsmen, who allow their cattle to wander around unchecked.
Instead of confronting the herdsmen violently, the son of the village head, Saliu Yusuf, said his father would summon the erring herdsmen and caution them.
He said that he usually prevents violent altercations in the community that would otherwise result in loss of lives and valuable items of property.
In view of these enormous contributions made by the traditional rulers in the area of security in the FCT, especially at the grassroots, it is imperative to empower community heads, bearing in mind that government cannot on its own establish security presence in all the nooks and crannies of rural area.
Such empowerment should include the funding of vigilante groups for effective community policing.

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