Security in FCT: How well has Bala Ciroma done after 2 years in office?
By Emeka Oraetoka
On July 19, 2020, it will be exactly two years since Bala Ciroma became Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Commissioner of Police (CP). Since President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR), took over power in 2015, the incessant bombing that characterized FCT has stopped.
This can be attributed in part, to the tighter security measures taken by the current government that rode to power mostly on account of improving the security situation in the country.
The apparent effort by the FCT police under Bala Ciroma, at genuinely partnering with the people of FCT has lead to improved security situation in Abuja.
A fact check by this writer on the claims of FCT CP, on how police under his leadership has been tackling insecurity in February 2020, revealed that the introduction of Community Policing and openness in its implementation is largely responsible for enhanced security in FCT.
Here is the excerpt of the claims:
“In recognition of the importance of community policing, the Command has made concerted effort to operate an open door policy that thrives on bringing the police closer to the people.
“This has not only helped in bridging the gap between the police and the community, it has also contributed immeasurably in the recent progress the Command has made in its fight against crime.
“I am glad to state that, there is a growing bond of friendship between the Command and FCT residents. This is evident in the information constantly provided by residents, which has led to foiling of crime, arrest of suspects, and recovery of exhibit.
“While appreciating FCT residents for partnering with the Command, I want to assure all communities in FCT that we will continue to review our policing strategy to nip crime in the bud and providing quality service delivery that will be channeled towards satisfying their yearnings for security.”
Perhaps the real test of leadership came the way of Bala Ciroma when he has to bring to bear, professionalism in containing the persistent violent demonstration by members of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN).
It could be recalled that this group consistently demonstrated for the release of their leader, Mallam El-Zakzaky who is standing trial in Nigeria. On so many occasions, the protest turned violent.
The group denied their involvement in violent protests. They even accused police of being responsible for the violence. They went as far as alleging that their enemies infiltrated the peaceful demonstrations to portray them in the bad light.
So many policemen were wounded in the course of ensuring that any protest from this sect goes in line with international best practice- peaceful. On many occasions, police was provoked to the limit of using minimum force, but this never happened.
Many of their vehicles were damaged beyond repair, in fact, a deputy commissioner of police, paid the supreme price during one of the protests; yet, Bala Ciroma and his men mentioned high level of professionalism, despite the provocation.
This action speaks volume of the new spirit of policing in FCT.
This writer thinks that the diligent manner CP Bala Ciroma managed IMN’s demonstrations in the FCT, provided the needed peace residents are enjoying today. It was FCT police pro-active and active crisis management that lead to this extract from CP’s media interaction on Tuesday 30th October 30, 2018:
The FCT Police Command in furtherance with its continuous effort to provide residents of the Federal Capital Territory with adequate security, protect lives and property and prevent any breakdown of law and order, has intercepted and arrested some members of the El-Zakzakky Islamic Movement of Nigeria with thirty-one bottles of petrol bomb and other dangerous weapons being ferried into FCT by their members to cause mayhem and attack innocent citizens including law enforcement agents deployed to protect lives and property.
It is also unfortunate to inform you that members of this group during a violent protest, today, 30th October, 2018 without any provocation went on rampage and burnt down a Police Rapid Response Squad (RRS) patrol vehicle deployed at Ademola Adetokumbo Crescent.
Some arrests have however been made and investigation is in progress.
In conclusion, while reassuring FCT residents of adequate security, I want to also bring to your knowledge that a total of Four hundred (400) members of the El-Zakzaky Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) who participated in the violent protest of today are currently being detained for discreet investigation; dangerous weapons were also recovered from them”.
On the issue of organized crime like kidnapping, terrorism and organized armed robbery, the Bala Ciroma led FCT police has done well.
Not too long ago, FCT police foiled armed robbery attack on First Bank, Mpape branch. The police went further to apprehend the mastermind of the robbery.
The police also secured the release the daughter of Atiku Abubakar’s cousin, Aisha Ardo, who was kidnapped by some hoodlums. In a nutshell, FCT police has done well in this area- curtailing organized crime.
However, more effort should be directed at preventive policing, a situation where the police has to chase after kidnappers, after operation, is not always result oriented; this is because ransom is always paid before the release of victim.
But a situation where the action, kidnap was aborted, no ransom will be paid.
Worthy of mentioning is the adroit manner the police handled the recent crisis that took place in Aso-Rock, where some policemen acted unprofessionally. This too, highlighted expertise in CP Bala Ciroma led police in FCT.
The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) minister noted on June 1 2020, while kicking off the implementation of the State Community Policing initiative aimed at reducing crime in communities and deepening trust between the public and law enforcement agencies that:
- community policing was a strategy that was anchored on “trust between the people and the security officers”;
- effort must be made by FCT police under Bala Ciroma to ramp up pro-active or preventive method of policing which incidentally is the pillar in community policing, already functional and active in the territory.
Many strategy options that may bring members of the public closer to the police, with a view to divulging vital information that could lead to nipping in the bud, violent crimes in the FCT, should be explored by the police in FCT.
Emeka Oraetoka; Information Management Consultant & Researcher, wrote in from Abuja; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; GSM: 08056031187 09039094636.