|Governor Willie Obiano|
In the part one of this public statement, dated 18th day of March, 2014, we x-rayed Governor Willie Obiano’s inaugural speech and found that as good as the speech was, there is critical need to revaluate some critical issues contained therein for the purpose of making them (promises) realistic and believable by most residents of Anambra State. For instance, his promise to set up or build a refinery “within one year” of his regime may most likely be seen by many as “a psychology of politics” or bloated promise. Similar thing applies to his promise to set up power plant in Nnewi, Awka and Onitsha zones. Apart from intricacies and complexities inherent in the two sectors, resources; human and material, so required are enormous; likewise administrative challenges and technicalities inherent including issue of “legislative list” oversights contained in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended in 2011.
Our revaluation of Governor Willie Obiano’s inaugural speech and constructive advice offered is intended to offer him an opportunity to take a second look at the said speech contents so as to come to terms with realities following them and make the people of Anambra State understand that sometimes “an inaugural speech is not a governance-economic blueprint”. This is more so when such an inaugural speech is a sole product of “a speech writer”, as against blueprint, which is usually a collective product of a team of experts including the governor and his deputy. This explains why we quickly reminded the Governor of his famous “3-Cs” (continuation, completion and commissioning governorship electoral campaign blueprint. But if he indeed, has added “setting up a refinery within one year” and “setting three power plants in Nnewi, Onitsha and Awka” in his blueprint, then, our candid advice to him is to commission a team of experts to revisit them to ascertain their feasibility or otherwise especially in the context of available human and material resources, exclusive and concurrent legislative lists considerations and their post commissioning durability, effectiveness and efficiency.
Another area of Governor Willie Obiano’s inaugural speech that requires our advocacy input is “security and vigilantism”. His promise to retrain and re-arm motley of vigilante groups operating in the State is a commendable one, but it is also a fact to note that vigilantism is part of insecurity in Anambra State particularly in the areas of crimes against persons and properties (street crimes). Malicious members and ex members of the outfit have been responsible for human napping menace in the State in recent times, either as informants or abductors proper. Another source of crime in the State is the steady influx of illicit small arms into the State. The third contributor to failed security in the State is failed intelligence gathering and usage by conventional security organizations in the State especially the police. The fourth is absence of electronic security in the State. The fifth is failed criminal investigation management and the sixth one is anachronistic judiciary system and criminal trials in the State.
A well known scenario depicting the opposite of electronic and mental intelligence policing is the heaping of bags of sand in front of the gate of the Anambra State Police Command at Awka and permanent blocking of the right side of the Zik’s Avenue Dual Carriage Way by the Command. This is a raw evidence of stone-age securitization and an example of failed intelligence security among officers and persons of the State Police Command. Police sources in the State have continued to believe that by heaping bags of sand in front of their State Command Headquarters, bomb detonators like Boko Haram insurgents, human abductors, bank and bullion van robbers and other violent criminals will be caught when on rampage including when the State Police Headquarters is under gunshot and bomb attack. In a modern security conscious clime, such a strategic government area that also contains Governor’s Lodge, State Criminal Investigations Department and State Directorate of Security Services (DSS) should be electronically and intelligently policed.
In the area of proliferated vigilantism, Governor Willie Obiano should go farther than “retraining and re-arming” the vigilantes by trimming down their numbers and setting up a strong index policy to control their exit and entry. There are over 1000 vigilante groups of various sizes operating in the State presently. There should also be a comprehensive list containing all their names and passport photographs, dates of birth, community identities, dates/months/years of enlistment, enlistment code numbers, LGAs of origins and areas of postings. They should be biometrically profiled.This list should be in both hard and soft copies and be periodically updated with copies made available to all important institutions including watchdog groups like rights based organizations. There should also be a written and codified code of conduct for every vigilante. Illegal and unofficial possession of arms by any vigilante should be prohibited and all the vigilantes should be neatly and decently dressed with periodic in-service and outside service orientation and training on arms handling, basic intelligence gathering and public relation including human rights issues.
In the area of proliferation of illicit small arms, Governor Willie Obiano should commission a team of experts to undertake a comprehensive study of destinations from which such arms flow into the State, those behind their influx and black markets where they end up and sold. Sadly, we wish to observe that some of those who presently serve as members of the State Security Trust Fund/Committee are found involved. They should be identified, investigated and bundled off. There should be comprehensive arms recovery or buy-back program, which, if well designed and publicized (not politicized), can attract international appealing and adequate funding. Government should ban the purchase of illicit small arms by any vigilante group from arms black markets and ensure that arms borne by vigilantes are indented and serially marked. Their subordination to the Nigeria Police Force should be retained.
In the areas of failed security intelligence and usage, criminal investigation management and electronic security, though, having been substantially in constitutional residency of the Nigeria Police Force, which is outside the constitutional scope of the governor in terms of police management; the Willie Obiano’s new administration can still do something especially within the contemplation of “supplementary Logistics support”. There is need to relocate the present headquarters of the State Police Command with its State CID to a befitting and modern edifice adorn with advanced electronic securitization gadgets and trained operators. The State CID should also be given a befitting and modern crime library and laboratory with competent personnel to man them. Governor Willie Obiano should seek the permission of the headship of the NPF and the C-in-C to sponsor some officers to overseas training particularly in electronic, mental intelligence/investigative, preventive, library and laboratory policing.
The Governor should upturn the State from being a destination for police brutality and criminal enrichment to a destination for professional and envious policing by initiating a compulsory and non-fee computer literacy program for all the officers and personnel of the State Police Command. If well packaged, the program can attract international attention and funding with each police officer that scales through at the end of the program receiving a set of computer or laptop powered by internet. Our recent findings clearly showed that most police officers in the command and the rank and file cadres, including officers deployed at the State CID and SARS, run for cover whenever they see computer and internet devices. Yet, every police officer is a potential Investigating Police Officer (IPO) and arrester of a suspected criminal in the State or any part thereof. The package being demanded should also be extended to the headquarters of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) with a view to eliminating the high incidence of torture, extra-judicial killings and disappearances that dominate their operations.
In the area of electronic policing and security, they should be incorporated into the State Roads’ construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation designs and implementations. All strategic roads in the State should be electronically policed powered by hidden close circuit televisions, cameras and other e-security devices. The Anambra State Police Command and all its Area Commands, SARS formations, DPSs (divisional police stations) and PPs (police posts) can be fully digitalized and hooked up to the State Police Command Headquarters. Expert findings have clearly shown that preventive, intelligence and electronic policing are far cheaper, affordable and easier that combative and reactive policing. They are also more environmentally friendly than polluting the environment and endangering the living, which is what combative and reactive policing does.
Era of flooding every nook and cranny of social climes with guns and bullets of different makes all in the name of fighting violent crimes is already obsolete. A sole Boko Haram insurgent or bomb detonator, for instance, can cause hundreds of death and thousands of injuries, yet once he causes the havoc, our security planners run to Europe to order containers load of AK-47 riffles on the ground that they are fighting violent group crimes including Boko Haram. This security methodology is out-fashioned. Violent criminals caught in their hideouts make society safer those caught on rampage!
In the area of anachronistic judiciary system and criminal trials, the Government of Willie Obiano should professionalize the State Judiciary, especially the High Court Division by creating “Criminal High Court” divisions out of the present muddled high court system. The Anambra State High Court Law and Rules as well as the Criminal Law of Anambra State should be holistically amended and brought in tandem with modern criminal trial and adjudication practices including modern rules of criminal evidence. Lawyers and Judges with backgrounds in criminal law, sociology and criminology should be given preference during recruitment and appointment into criminal high courts’ job. This idea is geared towards eliminating “holding charge” in magistrate courts and prohibiting them from preliminary entertainment of criminal matters that are outside their original jurisdictions. It will further tame torture and extra-judicial killings on the basis of “police trial by ordeal” as well as curtail excessive detention and detention without trial. This will also ensure speedy and fair trial of suspect-citizens and quick dispensation of justice.
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law-Intersociety
Comrade Justus Uche Ijeoma, Head, Publicity Desk