In addition to the unending incidence of terrorist attacks, kidnapping, armed banditry, violent robbery, cult clashes, farmers/herders crisis and cattle rustling are many of the security challenges facing the country.. According to the Global Terrorism Index 2020, Nigeria is the third most terrorized country in the world coming behind Afghanistan and Iraq.

The entire security architecture is on overdrive – with the military traditionally meant to ward off external aggression forming the arrow-head of counter-insurgency measures. However insurgency and violence is gradually extending beyond the boundaries of the North east to other parts of the country.  This has spurred communal, state and regional measures to shore up security best suited to the local circumstances which may not be readily appreciated by the Nigeria police.

It was the governors of south western states of Nigeria comprising of Lagos, Oyo, Ondo, Osun, Ogun and Ekiti states that first came up in January 2020 with a regional security network code named ‘Amotekun’ against the backdrop of incessant kidnapping and farmers/herders clashes within the region. Recently also, the five governors of the South-eastern states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo agreed to establish a regional security body dubbed ‘Ebube Agu’ in the face of increasing spate of criminality and attacks on security personnel and installations in the region. Since January, at least 14 Police stations, INEC offices, and the Imo Correctional Centre were torched by arsonists and gunmen not counting Police Checkpoints sacked and police officers killed.

What are the merits and the de-merits of the regional security bodies in a Federation like Nigeria with a Central Police Force established by section 271 of the 1999 Constitution? It is difficult to deny the apparent inadequacies of the Police in meeting the security needs of Nigerians. Many factors have been identified as responsible for the palpable inability of the Nigerian Police Force to deliver on its constitutional mandate to Nigerians. These include inadequate personnel, poor remuneration and incentives, poor training, lack of adequate and modern equipment, corruption, high handedness amongst others. The strength of the entire Nigerian police force is reported to be less than 400,000 personnel. In a country with a population of 200 million, the current staff strength of the police is grossly inadequate and no amount of arms and ammunition can take care of the human resources shortfall. In the 2016 Internal Security and Police Index, Nigeria police ranked the lowest with 219 police officers to 100, 000 citizens below the median index of 300 and Sub-saharan African average of 268.

Remuneration is also very poor. A constable in the Nigerian police goes home with less than USD 2,000 annual salary. The poor remuneration, no doubt, contributes immensely to the high incident of corruption and inefficiency in the Nigeria Police.

Attacks on police facilities is not new in Nigeria; what is new is the tacit legitimacy such dastardly act seems to be receiving from the populace. This quite explains the unperturbed attitude of citizens to the recent carnage caused to Imo State Police Command and the Police Zonal Headquarters in Anambra state by some armed individuals. Attacks on other police installations in the all the states in south east have followed in quick successions.

Little wonder therefore that the sub-national security outfits such as “Amotekun” in the west and “Ebube Agu” in the east are springing up across the country. As mentioned above, the creation of these bodies are founded on the philosophy of community policing. It has been argued that community policing being a policing strategy that develops active and friendly interaction between the police and the host community for early detection and prevention of crimes will put an end to the security challenges facing Nigeria. This is viewed from the fact that integration of the police into the community will aid intelligence gathering; it will also enhance police sources of information and foster cooperation between communities and the police People are likely to identify with the regional security bodies as their own than they would with the centralized police force. This is because community policing involves confidence and trust which may easily be donated to members of regional security outfits as part and parcel of the community. When people see the security personnel as unbiased public servants rather than agents of political office holders, there will be willingness to cooperate and work with them towards achieving a peaceful society.

Therefore, with community policing represented by the Amotekun and Ebube Agu outfits, localised offences common to particular areas such as cultism, kidnapping and banditry, farmers/herders clashes are likely to be nipped in the bud and perpetrators may be easily identified and made to face the law. Proper management of community policing will also attend to more transnational crimes of terrorism with the birth of robust intelligence gathering and effectiveness. A good coordination of the regional outfits will equally aid and complement the Nigeria Police Force community policing strategies and structures.