Yemi Osinbajo, acting president of Nigeria

The National Economic Council rose from its day-long retreat on National Security, with a consensus on a raft of issues aimed at tackling many of the security challenges in the country.

It was convened to review current security challenges across Nigeria with a view to finding lasting solutions to identified problems.

At the meeting on Thursday the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, announced that the Nigeria Police would now commence the implementation of a Community Policing Programme.

According to the Acting President, “we must enforce a model that democratizes security in such a way as to include everyone in the process of protecting themselves, securing their own lives and the lives of people in their community.”

Continuing he said “the simple advantage of the arrangement is that it means that it would involve the ordinary citizen in ensuring his security and that of his community. It must involve all local leaders, all structures of civil society. And on every street, the police ought to have one or two persons who can contact the police at short notice.”

The presidential directive to the Inspector-General of Police  initiating community policing is pursuant to the provisions of section 215(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended and section 10(1) of the Police Act Cap. P19, LFN 2004.

The roll-out of the Community Policing Programme is intended to enhance crime prevention and control, improve intelligence-gathering capabilities of the police and deliver quality and people-oriented policing.

The programme will involve the community partnering with the police to uncover and solve crimes through a process involving Town Hall Meetings to assess security situation and security priorities of the communities, the performance of the police and the nature of the support the communities can provide to improve the quality of policing.

Hate speech would not be tolerated

At the opening session of the retreat, the Acting President had declared that the FG “has today drawn the line on hate speech.”

“Hate speech is a species of terrorism. Terrorism as it is defined popularly is the unlawful use of violence or intimidation against individuals or groups especially for political ends,” he said.

“The law, that is the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 (as amended), defines terrorism as inter Alia, an act which deliberately done with malice which may seriously harm or damage a country or seriously intimidate a population.”

There was a clear conclusion that policing the country and the entire law enforcement generally, cannot effectively continue without devolving policing and law enforcement out to the States.

On matters of national unity, the retreat demonstrated a resolve and the Acting President described it thus: “I think with respect to the ethno-religious crisis and agitations, I think what we all seem to be agreed on is that, while people have the right to express their views, those views must not compromise democracy and must not compromise the integrity of our nation.”

Continuing he said “however a person choose to express his views, we cannot compromise, the constitution cannot be compromised. And that is why I have made a point about hate speech and that our national unity is important, it is crucial. Without national unity and territorial integrity of our nation, we won’t even be here much more talking about it.”

Coordination of security & intelligence

Also at the NEC retreat members highlighted the need for a more effective coordination between the security and intelligence agencies building a security community that is well synergized, without which optimal performance of different security and intelligence agencies might be difficult.

According to the Acting President “I think that is a very crucial point, practically everyone has mentioned this point and there has to be a more effective coordination between the security agencies and the intelligence community.”

Prompt arrest and prosecution of perpetrators

NEC members urged prompt action in the arrest and prosecution of perpetrators of terrorist acts, kidnapping and purveyors of hate speeches.

To facilitate this, the designation of special courts was also advocated and the consensus was that judicial and executive arms of the Federal and State Governments will be working together to establish such courts.

The FG will also be helping States develop a template on how such special courts would be established, and managed.

Herdsmen and farmers conflict

NEC members recognized the conflict is essentially a problem of land use, which has however taken an ethnic and religious coloration.

It was agreed that both the FG and States need to properly define the problems and eschew the ethno-religious construction of what is otherwise an economic challenge.

NEC members stated that it would be useful bringing the different groups together-herdsmen and the farmers -to meet and discuss, and also work out some of the issues that concern them.

Funding of security agencies

NEC agreed that defence that defense budget and funding for other security agencies of government always forms some of the biggest component of the budget, and calls for greater accountability of the resources released were also made.