Between Community Policing And Army’s Spiritual Warfare

By Casmir Igbokwe

Nigerian army and police desperately need our help. Both appear overwhelmed by terrorist and criminal activities in the country. While the police are still picking up the pieces after the trauma they faced during the #EndSARS protests, the army is seeking spiritual solution in its battle against terrorists.

Before we embark on this spiritual game, let’s realise that the Nigerian soldiers have tried everything humanly possible to degrade Boko Haram terrorists. Unfortunately, the more they try, the more brutal the insurgents become. Soldiers have killed them and they have killed soldiers. When they don’t see soldiers to kill, they target the civilian population. The most recent example was the slaughter of about 67 farm workers at Zabarmari village in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State. Former Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, lamented that this year alone, about 2,800 attacks had occurred in Borno State. Besides, over 40,000 people have reportedly been killed and over 2.5 million displaced in 10 years.

The tragedy of insecurity in Nigeria is worsened by the fact that those who have the powers to do something appear either incapacitated or nonchalant. Sometimes, the weapons they buy do not match the ones the terrorists use. They are full of excuses – how foreign powers have refused to sell weapons to us, how Boko Haram have been degraded but only looking for soft targets, how funds for purchase of weapons were diverted by the previous administration and so on.

Do you now blame the military for going spiritual? Last week, the Nigerian Army organised a seminar on spiritual warfare. The essence of the seminar with the theme, “Insecurity in Nigeria: Repositioning Authentic Religious Narratives in the Information Spectrum”, was to urge army clerics to come up with stronger ideologies to counter the religious beliefs of terrorist groups. Soldiers may not have been trained to chant Holy Ghost fire, but whenever any issue goes spiritual, it indicates, most times, that physical solutions have failed. That is the time you hear Nigerians saying, “Only God will save us in this country, Nigeria needs divine intervention, etc.”

This is not the first time our soldiers have gone on this spiritual warfare against terrorists. Last year, they organised a similar seminar with the theme, “Countering Insurgency and Violent Extremism in Nigeria through Spiritual Warfare.” The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, had explained that the fight against terrorism, Boko Haram and other security threats “cannot be left to the troops in the battlefield alone. Yes, we will do our duties, but the need to tackle groups through spiritual warfare and re-orientating the followers against the ideology is also a necessity.”

In my intervention on this page titled, ‘Beyond Nigerian Army’s spiritual warfare’, and published on October 7, 2019, I did acknowledge that extremist religious ideologies had caused more harm than good in the world. For instance, Boko Haram adherents believe that Western education is a sin. Hence, all their actions are tailored towards attacking anything Western and constituting themselves into serious nuisance to the society. Thus, engaging the citizens to counter the ideologies of terrorists is a good counter-insurgency strategy.

But, as I asked in my first intervention: “Are the soldiers fighting the insurgents well motivated? Are they well equipped with modern, sophisticated weapons? Do they go for regular training? Why has it been difficult for our professional soldiers to defeat this ragtag team of terrorists?”

The answer to these questions is obvious. The soldiers are not well motivated and equipped. Some of their superiors had supplied substandard equipment in the recent past. It is still a puzzle how the $2.1 billion special fund meant to procure sophisticated weapons to fight terrorists in the North-East towards the end of the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration was utilised. Besides, in June this year, the Nigerian Army court martial found Major-General Hakeem Otiki guilty of N400 million theft and dismissed him with disgrace and dishonour. Otiki was said to have sent some soldiers to ferry the N400m cash to a wrong destination, but it became public knowledge when the soldiers escorting the money hijacked it?

Nevertheless, Boko Haram insurgents don’t recruit people by preaching and organising seminars. They do it by force. They exploit the challenges confronting people to recruit more members into their fold. Government can only halt this by providing solutions to those challenges which Boko Haram is exploiting. Our military high command can also recruit locals to counter the insurgents not just spiritually but militarily. This is because some of the soldiers fighting the insurgents do not understand the terrain. They move as commanded and get consumed sometimes by their lack of knowledge of the environment they are fighting in.

Recruiting locals in the police force is also of utmost importance. And this is where community policing comes in. When hoodlums dislodged the police and killed some of them during the #EndSARS protests, some police stations in Lagos recruited members of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) to protect them. This has shown that local police, as OPC and other vigilance groups have demonstrated, will do it better because they understand the terrain, the language and the culture of the area they are policing. This is what the South-West has tried to do with Operation Amotekun. Governors cannot continue to answer chief security officers of their states without any control on the police. When locals are involved, be sure that recruiting criminals into the force will be minimised because major stakeholders who will be involved in the recruitment know those who are criminals in their localities.

The good thing is that the Federal Government appears well disposed to community policing now. Recently, it approved the sum of N13.3 billion for the take-off of the initiative in the country. The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, said the community policing initiative would be ready for take-off across the country in September.  So far, I am not too sure if the initiative has taken off as the whole thing still looks hazy to me.

Nevertheless, it is imperative to note that most crimes are local. The nature of crime in some parts of the North is not the same in the South. Cattle rustling may be a problem to the people of Niger State but to the citizens of Edo State, it may be car snatching. It takes local input to effectively tackle some of these crimes. In advanced democracies like the United States of America, independent state, county or city police are different from the federal police like the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). It won’t be a bad idea if we adopt the same system. After all, the strength of the Nigerian federal police is not up to 400,000 personnel. It is not only below the United Nations recommendation of 1:400 police-to-person ratio; it poses serious danger to the security of the nation.

Let’s start implementing the community policing initiative without further delay. If there is anything like community soldiering, let’s also welcome it. When thousands of locals join the fight against insurgency and other crimes, spiritual warfare may just be the icing on the cake.

 

Re: Sultan’s subtle no confidence vote in Buhari

Dear Casy, when you create a Frankenstein Monster and it goes on the prowl against her target, what do you expect next? It will come against you, the creator! This represents the situation in Nigeria today. Shikena!  It is not serving monkey water to drink that matters, what matters most is how to recover the cup from the monkey. Now the rich, also, cry due to insecurity in the country.

  • Steve Okoye, Awka.

I thank God that the verdict of the parlous state of insecurity in the north came from the spiritual and traditional head of Northern Nigeria in the person of Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar. This means that despite the military background of President Muhammadu Buhari, he has lost the capacity and capability of his primary responsibility of providing security to lives and property of Nigerians. This speaks volumes of his maladministration of affairs of Nigeria which aggravated the EndSARS protest in Nigeria. Our problem is that we always have sit-tight leaders, otherwise Buhari would have resigned.

  • Mr. Chinedu Ekwuno (JP).

Dear Casmir, we won’t be able to end terrorism, banditry, robbery and kidnapping if we continue to harden perpetrators. Some time ago, a state government called for amnesty; on the way to celebrate it, a kingpin called Gana was shot in cold blood allegedly by soldiers thereby killing the spirit of their repentance. Why?

  • Cletus Frenchman, Enugu.

Northern leaders should find ways of ending banditry in their region. It is always difficult to build in time of insecurity. Northern leaders should not just sit down waiting for FG to do everything concerning insecurity in their region. They too should fish out bad people in their midst.

  • Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia.

Dear Casy, Sultan Abubakar of Sokoto should direct his attention to Miyetti Allah rulers who have hijacked Buhari govt since 2016. Buhari is no longer in charge of the Nigerian govt. What did Sultan do when Miyetti Allah and its terror gang invaded Ukpabi, Nimbo, Agatu in Enugu, Benue and other southern states and murdered the people since Buhari took over govt? Now the Fulani plague has spread across the whole regions. Let every Nigerian defend himself because Buhari has handed over the country to Miyetti Allah and its murderous and terror cattle gang. All their drama is part of the Fulanisation of Nigeria which Buhari has come to fulfill. He has not come for governance. Since 2015 till now, can you point to any advancement in any segment of development? The only thing you can credit to Aso Rock emperor: nepotism, corruption, insecurity, treasury looting, mass murder. Oga Aso Rock has failed. It’s a shame!

  • Eze Chima C. Lagos.
  • Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, December 7, 2020.

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