SCDDD Strengthens Police-Community Relations, in the North East States of Borno, Adamawa and Yola

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The Nigerian nation-state is witnessing security challenges unprecedented in the history of the country. Insurgency in the Northeastern region of the country, agitation for secession and self-determination in the Southeast and South-south, herder-farmer clashes over natural resources in the North-central, rural banditry and surfacing of insurgency in the Northwest and large scale criminality in form of kidnapping and abductions for ransom, ritual killings and communal clashes across the Southwest have reached fever-pitched state. Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development (SCDDD) in partnership with the Presidential Committee on Northeast Initiatives (PCNI) undertook a model scheme of Community-Based Policing as a pilar for Community security resilience by adopting the theoretical concept that community security is the springboard for national security. The project covered initial three states namely, Adamawa, Borno and Yobe and from May to August, 2018, six communities (2 in each State) were used for the pilot scheme. The concept was to bring together community members of all social strata and diverse occupation to come together as a forum to discuss issues of security of their community in conjunction with the Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA) within their jurisdiction. It was to forge partnership principally with the police and supported by other relevant agencies to govern the security of their domain. Such structure would enhance intelligence gathering, early warning mechanism and quick intervention. Confidence-building would be promoted with ultimate aim of building trust among all stakeholders on community security. A round of consultations were concluded with all key players, a committee known as Community Security Working Group (CSWG) was created per each community, training workshops were conducted for the players, implementation was launched and monitoring and evaluation conducted to steer the scheme as well as evaluate the impact. A upper tier response team was also created comprising of senior members LEA command to respond quickly to reports as well as monitor events in the communities. These structures recorded remarkable enthusiasm as well as fostered improved Police-Community relationship. The evaluation report to PCNI encourage further discussions on the extension of the program. Recommendations emanating from the project were wide ranging and groundbreaking. The way forward for national security architecture should be to entrench community-based policing as the smartest thing to do. However, there is the need for state statutes and bye-laws to confer legitimacy to the structure and procedures. With reference to adjudication and traditional justice most crucial in the element of community peace-building, a lot more work needs to be done. The policy brief concludes that community resilience can be achieved if efforts and interventions are geared towards human security.


The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended bestows the responsibility of security on the Nigeria Police. For success, citizens must cooperate with the police in the discharge of this responsibility. Citizens must support efforts of the police by providing timely information with which the police must work. However, police- citizen relations has degenerating over the years to the extent that mutual trust is lost. Arising from this the police is not able to discharge their responsibilities with efficiency and mutual trust. This general state of affairs across the country has led to breakdown of security. Aware of this, the Police has rolled out programs like Police-Community Relations and Community-Based Policing to shore up relationship and promote effectiveness. These efforts seem not to take the nation any far due to the inherent flaw of police practice of seeing citizens and communities as agents of information and not partners in the security enterprise. Second, policing as a concept connotes the protection and safeguards which begins with the individual. Without any formal police structure, individuals and group of citizens can provide for themselves security. In essence, police can compliment the efforts of a collective of citizens. Communities and individuals can police themselves even before state police intervenes. Of note is the global trend of community-based policing or community police partnership which seek to mainstream community in the security architecture of nations. In order to achieve security at the grassroots level, the structure must be rooted in the community. Third is the dwindling financial resources needed for policing.

Responsibility sharing can reduce the financial burden on formal policing and free the police to do core duties requiring enforcement. Community resources can thus be brought in support of policing when partnership is fully integrated.

The Northeast region of the country faces security challenges that have crippled the economy and well being of the six states of the region. It is running to the tenth year that insurgency is being fought. Had community police security been entrenched perhaps the situation may not have arisen. It is still not too late in the day to structure security architecture of the Northeast and indeed other regions of the country along the line of Community-Based Policing. Savannah Centre’s project in the Northeast promotes the strategy of Community Security Resilience as the mechanism to fight insurgency.


Insurgency seeks to de-legitimize an existing order by undermining government and the societies and attempts to supplant the system with their ideology and re-engineer the society. The process is a gradual ebbing of social values and norms. The community is the epicenter of the struggle to where the insurgents expand their influence until enough strength is mobilized for eventual confrontations. So has it been with the Northeast as narrated by traditional rulers and and many residents of the various communities in the states visited. Boko Haram insurgency has attempted to de-legitimize the Federal Government at the grassroots level by propaganda of actions and ideologies. The non existence of strong government presence in remote rural areas created an environment for the entrenchment of insurgency. The test of will between the community and the insurgents play out in form of cognition attack and the physical terrorist attacks to intimidate and bend the will of the citizens. The sphere of cognition is in the hearts and minds of the people where social cohesion is assaulted based on identity of religion, ethnicity and power structure of the society. It attempts to de-legitimize government services and institutions. In the physical warfare, terrorism is adopted to intimidate and bend the will of the people. In all these, the community must be strengthened to confront these challenges.


Researchers seem to aggregate the causes of insurgency around these main factors. The understanding of these causes would help to shape policy framework of counterinsurgency and indeed the holistic approach to security. The three main thrust are:

Structural Motivation. These are issues surrounding local power structure. Where power holders namely traditional rulers, government officials including security agencies abuse power and corruptly enrich themselves yet use government coercive powers to protect themselves, the result is repudiation of the system. Compounding the problem is where there are no avenues for redress and conflict management. The democratic system has not given adequate room for non state actors to create platforms for participatory governance where their concerns are addressed in partnership with existing democratic structures and its legal and judiciary institutions. In addressing these issues, community partnership with the police and judiciary could deliver peace, security and justice. Existing power holders may see these new approach as erosion of their powers hence the challenge of countering insurgency leading yet to further perpetration of insecurity.

Individual Incentives. National prosperity must take into account the well being of all in a fair deal for all. Where individuals feel left out of prosperity revenge mentality creeps in. A large army of despondent people resort to drug abuse and other vices. These social conditions become a recruitment base for insurgency. The lure of personal gains in terms of fund, power and access to wealth begin to manifest through the creation of jurisdictions for rent seeking and illegal taxation. Fiefdoms thus created develop into safe haven for insurgency and other criminality aimed at acquisition of wealth and power.

Enabling Factors. Ideological flourish by charismatic local personae unchecked and unfettered challenge the tradition and norms of the people

and embolden young ones into rebellion. Availability of weapons and the lack of capacity to mop them up or stem their free flow create opportunity for transition from extremism to violent extremism. While all these happen in the watchful eyes of the community, lack of collective will and capacity escalate to catastrophe the like we see in the Northeast today.


SCDDD conducted a pilot scheme of Community-Based Policing in the Northeast States of Nigeria and three states were chosen namely Adamawa, Borno and Yobe being the most affected by insurgency. Six communities were selected for the pilot scheme. The communities contained both rural and city environments of influx of displaced persons and rural farmers and herders. The communities were: Adamawa, Jimeta and Girei District Councils of Adamawa Emirate; Borno, Old Maiduguri and Maisandari Districts of the Borno Emirate and Kasesa and Kukareeta districts of Yobe State. The objectives were to create community-police partnership such that information flow and joint deliberations on security challenges would produce early warning signals and quick intervention. In doing so police community relations would improve and intra community and sub cultural divide would be breached. A higher tier structure was also created to ensure LEAs met with representatives of the communities to discuss timely interventions on matters of urgent security. Training was also conducted for each Community Security Working Group (CSWG) on early warning methods and security awareness. Below is the diagram of the structure.


A weekly program of meeting was instituted where each community reviewed its security situation. The Response Team met every fortnightly with representatives of the community to proffer solutions to the security challenges. Through this project many security issues ranging from neighborhood miscreants, hideouts for criminals were all dissolved. Some more serious insurgency threats were uncovered while social cohesion among various groups was achieved.


Community members became more aware and trained to appreciate security challenges and the collaborative partnership to solving the problems. Community relations with the Police in particular and other security agencies improved tremendously leading to freer flow of information. Within the social strata of the communities, genuine friendship developed and old animosities resolved. An example was the re-opening of a community market in Kukareeta of Yobe State hitherto closed due to communal clashes. Other contiguous communities demanded to be included in the scheme seeing how the system worked. Lapses found in the counterinsurgency operations were embodied in the final report to relevant authorities. These are beyond the scope of this policy brief. Suffice to say the outcome were so encouraging to demand for extension of the programme to other states within the Northeast and beyond.


These outcomes were not without challenges. In spite of the enthusiasm generated sustainability question loomed large on the project. Such issues as funding for meetings and government recognition were always raised. Similarly, community expertise to continue to the guidance was required. These issues challenge the resilience of the community and their ability to expand and deepen the scope of community resilience.


Among the issues of concern was the future of the CJTF. While their creation was a necessity being the mother of invention, the organisation has acquired a life of its own and a possible nemesis that may haunt the nation. In this regards efforts must be made to dismantle them as quickly as possible. Many suggestions have been brought to the table, including their integration into the formal security establishment as individuals. It should be noted that no security establishment can absorb them for many reasons including requisite qualification of the individuals and the contagion or toxic injection into a formal system of security professionals. The plausible approach therefore is to rehabilitate them into their original trades. Re-skilling and entrepreneurship training with credit facilities should be extended to them as a matter of deliberate policy.


In ensuring community security resilience, governments and development partners would do well to be guided by the concept of human security. Putting the community as the governors of their own affairs would provide the needed national security architecture.

Physical security. The personal safety of the individual like freedom from assault, rape, robbery, kidnapping, fire outbreak and other criminalities should be guaranteed by government. Knowing the limitations of government in providing numbers of security personnel to cover all areas, SCDDD prescribes, community based policing which harnesses the additional resources of the community. But most importantly, security architecture should combine peace, security and justice at the grassroots level to mitigate criminality

Political Security. Civil liberty must be safeguarded. Unlawful arrests and denial of rights even within the community must be avoided. Of contention is the question of indigene-ship and citizenship. The democratic system must encourage participatory democracy where community can deliberate and resolve their problems. In this regards, non state actors, social auditing of government projects and promises must be freely encouraged. Governance rather than government should be the primacy of actions.

Community Security. The social norms and cultures should be recognized and promoted. This shall be without prejudice to the constitution and laws. Social cohesion and subcultures must be made to blend within the community. Thus hate speech, radical preaching, intolerance and narratives injurious to the health of the community must be eschewed. The creation of early warning mechanism for quick intervention by law enforcement agencies should be instituted. While arbitration and peace-building initiatives are entrenched in the community. SCDDD prescription is Community based policing. It should be noted that Community Based Armed Groups is discouraged out rightly as it portends danger.

Economic Security. The community members should have access to economic well being. In this regards, entrepreneurship within the community must be a strong and attainable goal. The principle of prosperity for all need to be cardinal. As much as possible locals must be engaged in contract awards, open market system where no one is prevented from the market. Laws limiting the capacity and legitimate dreams of the individual must be avoided. In similar vein, injurious business enterprises like gambling and drug peddling must be prevented.

Food Security. It is not enough to have food in the market. The ability to purchase and eat enough is imperative. Tied with economic security, this goal can be attained within the community.

Health Security. The community must engage in provide healthcare either through government or other non state actor interventions. Public health education and cultural habits should be in focus. Local mechanisms in collaboration with government have to be entrenched fully in the community.

Environmental Security. Habits of deforestation, excavations, bush burning and abuses of natural resources have to be under the watch of the community to ensure that the community is not depleted of its means if survival.


Questions have arisen as to the power structure of communities. In response, SCDDD believes and has practiced it in the six pilot communities of the Community Based Policing project that consultations and all inclusive structure can mitigate any friction or abuse of power. Every segment of the community is represented in the community council or committee. Frequent meetings to deliberate on matters concerning the community is entrenched. The obvious challenge is legitimacy of the law. SCDDD believes that state legislation and local government bye-laws can obviate the challenge of legitimacy. Realizing that swathes of ungoverned spaces have become the harbinger of insecurity, non state actors must be energized to fill the gap.


More work needs to be done to establish community governance in view of the dilution of power structures and practices that may occur. This by itself is a source of grievances that needs maturity and understanding to be the change about. SCDDD is of the view that to deepen democracy and improved community security resilience, peace, security and justice mechanism as a foundation is the smart way to go.

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