The various state governments are reworking their existing security arrangements to stem the rising tide of banditry in the country, according to an investigation by The Nation.
Many local communities are also falling back on traditional methods of securing lives and property, while tertiary institutions are going the extra mile to secure their immediate environments following the rise in kidnapping cases and threats to life.
Although the Southwest states of Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo last year set up the Amotekun security network to deal with the crisis, residents are asking for more protection as it appears the outfit cannot handle it alone.
Penultimate Friday, some Yoruba elders, including the Secretary General of the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr. Kunle Olajide; renowned Ifa priest, Chief Ifayemi Elebuibon; Nigeria’s former ambassador to The Phillipines, Dr.Yemi Farounmbi and founder of Odua Redemption Alliance, Dr. Victor Taiwo, met at the palace of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, under the Yoruba United Agenda.
Top on their discussions was the security situation in the region.
Farounmbi said at the end of the meeting that they resolved that each community should place priority on its internal security and should therefore proceed to set up a vigilance group for common protection.
“We have agreed to fall back on the old ways the Yoruba were protecting their communities by engaging local vigilance groups, the Agbekoyas, hunters and all,” he said, adding: “Aare Gani Adams, Prof Akintoye, Bishop Ayo Ladigbolu, and other leaders are playing a vital role to ensure the security of our various communities.”
The leader of the Nigerian Group of Hunters, Hammed Nureni, told The Nation that the association was already mobilising its members for the task of securing the zone.
He said: “We have our ways of doing this. Although what we are doing is voluntary, it is my joy that everywhere is secure. Even schools and institutions are engaging us. Our members are across Osun State and other states.”
Ekiti traditional rulers enlist support of local war chiefs; govt deploys joint patrol
Following the recent abduction of the Elemeso of Ilemeso-Ekiti Oba David Oyewumi in his palace by gunmen, the Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers resolved to enlist the support of local war chiefs to check banditry.
The monarchs said community based security mechanism across the state will complement the efforts of the government.
The Alawe of Ilawe Ekiti, Oba Ajibade Alabi, who doubles as chairman of the council, said through his media aide Chief Ajibade Olubunmi that the proposed security mechanism will involve local hunters, war chiefs, vigilance group members and local government chairmen.
The Alawe said the time has come for the obas to deploy the local war strategies used in the past in safeguarding communities against external aggression.
On its part, the state government is deploying more security personnel across the state while also increasing security patrol.
Special Adviser on security matters to Governor Fayemi, Maj-Gen. Ebenezer Ogundana (rtd), said a joint security patrol was initiated to rid the state of bandits, kidnappers and other criminal elements, saying the formation operates for 24hrs across the 16 council areas not just for visibility policing but to raid black spots.
Imo empowers police, others with 200 vehicles
Ahead of the formal take off of the Southeast security network Ebubeagu, the government of Imo State, which is the hardest hit by brigandage in the zone, has donated 200 operational vehicles equipped with vital gadgets to the police and other security agencies in the state.
The donation came on the heels of the April 5 attack on the Owerri Correctional Centre by gunmen who proceeded to set free 1,844 of the inmates.
Governor Hope Uzodimma said the move was meant to reenergise the security architecture of the state to make it more proactive and result oriented.
Besides, traditional rulers in the state resolved to invoke curses on the brains behind insecurity in the state should they refuse to change.
The monarchs said as custodians of the culture and tradition of Imo State, if they refuse, “the traditional institution will consult the gods of the land and invoke curses on whoever is involved.”
The Public Relations Officer of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), Uche Nwaelue, told The Nation that the management of the institution has reinforced security in the school “following what is happening in the state and the country.”
Anambra communities strengthen state vigilance service
Like his Imo State counterpart, Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State has also aided the police and other security arms with vehicles and other equipment to make the state more secure.
Traditional rulers and other stakeholders are also playing their part.
Of note is the contribution of some wealthy natives who have bought operational vehicles for the Anambra Vigilance Service (ABS) across the 21 local government areas and 181 communities.
One of such communities is Nnewi where the stakeholders purchased some vehicles to help the local vigilance group.
Obiano’s Special Adviser on Security, Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka, told The Nation that other communities like Azia, Onitsha North and Onitsha South, are also re-branding their vigilance groups.
At the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Unizik, Awka, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Charles Esimone, has directed the security department of the institution to patrol all the dark spots to check cultists.
Abia mobilises to secure the state ahead of Ebubeagu
Local governments in Abia State are reinforcing their security committees by bringing in traditional chiefs and youths.
In Ukwa East Local Government Area, for instance, the council chairman, Hon. Chuks Wabara, said the local vigilance was being strengthened with logistics to continue to protect lives and property.
According to Wabara, the security meeting with various security heads in the local government, which used to hold once a month, now comes up every fortnight.
And following last week’s kidnap of some students of the State owned university, the authorities have adjusted their lecture period from 9am to 4pm so that the lecturers and the students will have no cause to move around at night and thus keep out of danger.
Vice Chancellor of the Abia State University, Prof. Onyemachi Ogbulu, said security has also been beefed up to forestall future occurrence of the incident.
A’Ibom involves stakeholders in intelligence gathering, whistleblowing
The Akwa Ibom State Government is focusing its security attention on intelligence gathering and whistleblowing as the best means of securing the people and their property.
According to Governor Udom Emmanuel, what can save the security or challenges is “the need to rely on intelligence so that we can nip it in the bud. It has to be at least 70% intelligence.”
He added: “Environment induced diagnostic intelligence will also help. I’m sure we will conquer them.
“We have met with some of the security services commanders and also, we are making efforts to collaborate because we are brought here to do a primary objective, which is to ensure and enhance the security in Akwa Ibom State and to make sure there is peace, law and order in the state.
“Also there is need for us to collaborate and synergise to bring out an effective strategy that will work out for the state to achieve its aims.”
Already, government is working with local vigilance groups to provide information about security situations across the state.
Security beefed up in Edo
Security was beefed up in Edo State following the October 20, 2020 attack on the Benin Correctional Centre by hoodlums during the #ENDSARS protests.
One thousand nine hundred inmates escaped during the attack.
Some of them were described as hardened criminals and the rate of crimes seemed to have increased soon after the incident.
Soldiers and policemen were drafted to the roads to help in reining them in.
Two weeks ago, the police command in the state said it arrested 357 suspects for kidnapping, armed robbery, cultism, murder, rape, burglary, attempted murder and other criminal activities.
Police Commissioner Phillip Ogbadu said: “The command is faced with violent crimes of kidnapping, armed robbery, cultism, murder, rape and burglary, among others. As such, the command has continued to devise security strategies to prevent criminal activities and to ensure a secure, safe and stable environment for economic growth and social interaction.
“It has also continued to adopt due diligence, intelligence system of administration, robust tactical operations and ensuring that cases are properly investigated and prosecuted.”
Edo police commissioner also disclosed that the command had continued to work with vigilance and hunter groups in the host communities, which he said was geared towards building people’s confidence in the police for information sharing.
Benue stakeholders demand establishment of Community Volunteer Guards
Stakeholders in Benue State have tasked the state government to “fully enforce the ‘Law to Provide for the Establishment of Community Volunteer Guards (Vigilante) and for the Purposes Connected Therewith’ which was enacted in the year 2000.”
In a communique at the end of a meeting in Makurdi with Governor Samuel Ortom, the attendees emphasised “the need for all stakeholders to join hands in tackling insecurity in Benue State devoid of political, religious and ethnic sentiments.”
They also resolved that recruitment of members of the proposed vigilante group should be carried out in the 23 local government areas of the state.
The meeting “reinforced the commitment of Benue people to the enforcement of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, 2017.”
Plateau to set up police posts in tertiary institutions’ host communities
The Plateau State Government plans to set up police posts in communities hosting tertiary institutions as part of the efforts to make students and their lecturers safe, Governor Simon Lalong said following recent attacks on schools and their students in parts of the country.
Lalong has also procured 50 patrol pick-up vans and 200 motorcycles for distribution to security agencies in the state.
Already, all hostels on the campus of the University of Jos (UNIJOS) have been shut over security threat.
The Deputy Registrar (Information and Publications) of the institution, Abdullahi Abdullahi, said the hostels were shut because “soft targets like the hostels are in great danger.
“In the light of the above, the hostels are to be closed with immediate effect.
“This is in the interest of the safety of students until all security measures have been perfected to protect the campuses as well as the hostels. However, all examinations are to continue unhindered.”
Police detectives protect Adamawa schools
Schools in Adamawa State are being protected against kidnappers and other miscreants by internal security personnel and external personnel provided by the police.
According to the state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Suleiman Nguroje, the police high command in the state has been meeting with headmasters, principals, provosts, rectors and vice chancellors of the primary and secondary schools and of the institutions of higher learning on strengthening their internal security system.
“We met with some of them just this passing week and we have another meeting this coming week in continuation of efforts we have been making since the heightening of insecurity around schools in parts of the country,” Nguroje told our correspondent.
He added that in addition to the independent security personnel of the different schools, the police command posted plain-clothe detectives to the various schools and that such detectives are constantly monitoring the atmosphere around the schools for the purpose of taking prompt action should any individual or individuals get up to anything inimical.
“We have not had school abductions in the state. But rather than take it for granted, we are taking care that it doesn’t happen.”
Some of the schools have been known to have had reasonably tight security systems for a while: Adamawa State University (ADSU) Mubi and Adamawa State Polytechnic Yola (SPY) are two ready examples.
Niger converts some boarding schools after security risk assessment
In the aftermath of the February 2021 abduction of 42 students and staff of Government Science Secondary School, Kagara, Niger State by gunmen, the state government embarked on a security risk assessment on all schools in the state.
Some of the boarding schools have now been converted to day schools.
The Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Education, Jibrin Usman Kodo, said that the government has earmarked some of the schools that are security porous for fencing
He added that the government has asked all schools to form an internal security committee comprising the principal, students, representatives of PTA, council chairmen and some vigilance groups.
Besides, security has been provided for schools across the state.
The Federal University of Technology (FUT) Minna has also strengthened its security arrangement to protect its students and lecturers.
The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the institution, Mrs Lydia Legbo, said that there have been increased awareness creation and sensitization of the university community to enable the students and others in the university community to give out information about suspicious persons or movements.
UNILORIN: We’ve adopted pro-active security measures
The Vice-Chancellor, University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), Prof. Sulyman Abdulkareem, says the institution has adopted proactive measures to prevent security breaches.
One of such is the installation of Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV), also known as video surveillance, across campus for safety of students and members of staff.
Abdulkareem said the action was in view of the series of kidnappings of students in some parts of the country.
He said UNILORIN would leave no stone unturned to protect the students and community members as there are more security operatives guarding the campus.
UNILAG bans heavily-tinted vehicles on campus
The management of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) is also not taking the security of the students and the staff for granted.
It has thus barred heavily-tinted vehicles from campus.
Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Academics ) Oluwole Familoni, said that the decision was informed by rising security challenges, including attacks on schools.
He said UNILAG was taking necessary steps to protect students and members of staff.
“We are in collaboration with security agencies for increased presence on campus. We also have our own intelligence that is unknown to anyone,” he said.