Governors of Eastern Nigeria have risen in support of the new community policing model of the Nigeria Police Force for effective security in that axis of Nigeria.
They expressed their support at a regional Security Summit, initiated by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu Abubakar. In a communiqué read by the Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State and Chairman of the South-East Governors’ Forum, they pointed out that the contents of the new community policing strategies of the Police were not different from their security measures already in place in the zone.
This development came as some gunmen allegedly attacked Bakali village in Fatika district of the Giwa Local Government Area of Kaduna State. The men, who reportedly struck on Tuesday, killed no fewer than 21 people.
A resident, Sani Bakali, who lost 13 family members in the attack, claimed that the men operated for over two hours. ‘’Eleven of my relatives were killed in a house. They comprise three women and eight children of my younger brothers. All of them were locked in the house and burnt to death.
‘’The bandits killed two of my uncles in another building, while four corpses burnt beyond recognition were discovered along the bush path. Twenty-one persons were killed in all by the bandits while nine persons are missing’’, he said.
According to him, the bandits went around the village, shooting indiscriminately, during which two Islamic preachers, his neighbour and one of his friends were killed, adding, ‘’we just ended funeral prayers for the 21 victims of the attack. The bandits came in a large number invaded the village on motorcycles around 4 pm yesterday (Tuesday) wielding AK-47 rifles and shooting everybody.
‘’We initially buried 20 corpses before we discovered one more corpse inside the bush we buried him too. People have fled the village and apart from the people killed, there are nine people we have yet to see since after the incident. We don’t know whether they have been killed or not.’’
A spokesman for the Nigeria Police, Kaduna State Command, Muhammad Jalige, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), has, however, confirmed the attack but silent on the casualty figure.
‘’There was an attack in Giwa, Bakali village to be precise, and we have sent a team of police officers and men there to ascertain the situation of things’’, the Police said.
In the meantime, Governor Umahi has said that Eastern governors, before the security summit, had a closed-door meeting with the Police chief, at the Government House, Enugu, where Abubakar explained to them extensively the concept and effectiveness of the community policing in addressing security challenges in the zone.
Also at the event were the host governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State and Deputy Governor Placid Njoku of Imo State.
Continuing, Umahi said all security concerns raised by the traditional and religious leaders in the zone, including those presented by the Imeobi of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, at the last meeting of the Governors’ Forum, have been addressed in the community policing strategy of the Nigeria Police Force.
While maintaining that the people of the zone will begin to see a lot of positive changes as the fallout of the summit, he pointed out that the governors have agreed to invest in social intervention programmes for teeming youths.
‘’The community policing was proper and explained to us in full details and it is not different from our Neighbourhood Watch and the Vigilante operation, the Forest Guard, the gatekeepers, the herdsmen and farmers conflict committees and others.
‘’And so, we saw that this is totally in tandem with what we pray. We decided as your governors to embrace this initiative of community policing, which is an official endorsement in line with what the police and what we are doing to safeguard the lives and property of our people’’, he said.
IGP Abubakar in his address, described the security summit as the best in the country, noting that the event was convened within the framework of their community policing initiative and as part of the strategies of the Nigeria Police to employ all-inclusive strategy towards helping us in the achievement of our internal security management, particularly in the East.
‘’The community policing approach was necessitated by the increasing complexity of crime and the challenges of policing the vast and diverse country such as Nigeria, which requires that the Police should continually engage the citizens in seeking their input and soliciting their support”, the IGP said.
He appreciated the governors, the traditional rulers, religious leaders and other stakeholders across the states of the zone for their active participation in the event which he said was “the 6th and the best of the security summits” across the six geo-political zones of the country.
According to him, “all the summits ended in a very successful outcome and I am delighted to confirm that the strategies jointly developed as well as the partnership we built at the meetings that were so far held have been effective in addressing the security tricks that are peculiar to each of the geo-political zones.”
Earlier, Governor Ugwuanyi who welcomed the police big boss, on behalf of his colleagues, expressed optimism that the summit’s outcome will facilitate rejigging and re-tooling of the security architecture in the zone and bring it up to speed with emerging dimensions of insecurity and criminality.
While noting that the summit was “both timely and most compelling”, Ugwuanyi congratulated Abubakar and his team for the great initiative, maintaining that his administration has not rested on its oars in providing a safe and secure environment for residents to live, work and enjoy their leisure.
“We have strengthened our Neighbourhood Watch Associations, blazed the trail in the enthronement of Forest Guards which is a novel initiative of the South-East Governors Forum and have continued to support the security agencies in our state with security patrol vehicles, communication gadgets, etc.
“We have institutionalized the needed collaboration between our Neighbourhood Watch groups, Forest Guards and security agencies especially in the area of intelligence sharing. Enugu State Security Trust Fund law is in place to ensure sustainable support for security agencies in the state while the State Forest Guards law is before our State House of Assembly.
“We are also on the threshold of deploying our Automated Drone Surveillance Solution to give the needed impetus to our security surveillance’’, Ugwuanyi said and accordingly stressed his administration’s commitment to security and welfare of the people as enshrined in the country’s constitution. He also expressed hope that the outcome of the interactions will chart the course for improved security of the zone “as a significant co-factor in our economic development”.
Other speakers at the event were the Imo deputy governor, President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, Archbishop Emmanuel Chukwuma, Chairman of Enugu State Council of Traditional Rulers, Igwe Lawrence Agubuzu, and the Guest Speaker, Prof. Felix Asogwa, who presented a keynote address.