Substantial part of the N13 billion just approved by President Muhammadu Buhari for the take- off of community policing in the country will go into training, sensitization and purchase of equipment, Police Inspector General Mohammed Adamu said on Friday.
Adamu warned vigilance and neighborhood watch groups against using the community policing programme to get involved in illegal possession of arms.
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State made a fresh case for Nigerians to be allowed to bear AK-47 rifles for self-protection and defence in view of the general insecurity in the country.
The IGP, speaking during a briefing by Police Affairs Minister Mohammed Maigari Dingyadi on his stewardship/one year anniversary of the re-establishment of the ministry, said much ground has been covered in getting community policing off the blocks.
He said of the programme: “Community policing is a strategy. It is not a new police structure that is being created but within the police we re-strategise and then bring in community based initiatives.
“The idea and what we are implementing is that the community should take responsibility for policing. The implementation has gone far. So far we have inaugurated state community policing advisory committees in all the states. And that advisory committee comprises the community leaders, representatives of faith based organizations, representatives of market women, representatives of national union of transport workers, students etc.
“At the local government level we also have the same strategy represented by the same group of community leaders. At the local government level again we have community policing committee which will have the same people from the ward and villages. This committee is the one that would help us identify within the wards and the villages their own citizens and natives who are able bodied. We would select them and train them as community policing officers and send them back to their communities where they come from. We have reached this stage already. Now we are at the stage of recruitment.”
He said the community policing committees would be the ones to receive reports of challenges and problems of crime within the communities through the community police officers.
“They would deliberate on these problems and see how they can solve the problem without necessarily bringing it to the DPO because it is a community based initiative to deal with community issues.”
On the money released, he said: “The money is for implementation of the project. It is a process. We have started it in terms of we are going to do town hall sensitization. We are also doing training for the community police officers. We are going to buy all the equipment that is needed and then the process goes on this year, next year until everything is established.”
To vigilance and neighborhood watch groups across the country, the IGP said: “If you are caught with an illegal weapon, you will be prosecuted and you will go to jail. For the benefit of doubt, anybody seen with any prohibited firearms will be arrested and prosecuted. Even if you are a recognised vigilante group called any name that is given to you by the state government that created you as a vigilante group or neighbourhood watch, created to help law enforcement agencies in fighting crime if you carry firearms that you are not licensed, you will be prosecuted and you will go to jail.”