The Upper Crust

Another look at the Offa massacre



Since the armed robbery incident in Offa, there seems to have been an anti climax of some sort since police began to make public progress report of her investigation. Anti climax in the sense that it appeared as if whoever could be the suspects to the crime, Kwarans and in particular Offa residents could not be party to such heinous crime. That was sheer massacre. Yes, there was the stealing of millions of naira, yet the most critical aspect of the while robbery was the manner of bloodbath which presented the whole episode as a sinister plan by intruders.
In fact a well placed security expert had concluded that what was witnessed few weeks ago in Offa wasn’t a robbery. He gave elements to the crime that presented it as terror. Indeed, money was stolen which made the crime look like, the theft was a smokescreen while the main crime was the spilling of blood. When armed gangs take gets into a city, and immediately target a security post, that simply is a sign of declaration of war. By the end of the attack, nearly a dozen police men lay dead; while inmates in the police cell apparently awaiting bail were equally killed. That was indeed tragic. No word can comfort the bereaved.
The killings at the various banks also enlarged what became a dark day for the state. But who would have thought that the killings were perpetrated by residents? This goes back to the constant investigative principle, crimes are usually committed or masterminded by folks who are familiar with a place. Who would have thought that Offa, just like every other place housed people that could turn against it and unleash such spiteful venom. When Boko Haram was still new, most Nigerians thought that it was not possible for the killing machine was a product of the environment. It was insane to suggest that the Kanuri will turn out deviants who will turn their gun and bile against itself. Things have changed.
The same way when kidnapping became an enterprise in Igbo land, victims were Igbos and the most wicked acts of kidnapping happened in Igbo land against Igbo people. Even Evans the kidnapper made sure that his victims were more than 90 percent Igbos even in far away Lagos where he became a kingpin. He selected his victims based on their ethnicity it will seem.apparently because understood their mannerism and could better deal with them than members of other ethnic groups that he may not be too familiar with. The point I am trying to raise is that our communities should begin to see crime for what it is. The sociological composition of our society is changing to fit into the modern era.
The times when we thought for lack of research that certain crimes cannot be committed by locals simply because of filial realities are over. People no longer care about the sanctity of human life. Times were even as recent as ten years ago when people vowed that Nigerians so love their lives that they cant commit suicide bombing. Now we know better. As this sociology changes, communities and the police must begin to design a new template of policing that is community based. When I talk about community based policing, I am by no means referring to the over celebrated “community policing’’ strategy. Or the politically correct state police campaign. Community based policing is simply a system that gets people to organize into communities whereby everyone keeps everyone’s record.
With the record which includes phone numbers, emails, work place addresses, number and identity of individuals who live in a particular building; a set of police men will be allocated to the area. Their duty will not be to extort but to continually gather intelligence on activities of the residents. It doesn’t matter where the policemen come from, but in the team must include men who understand the local language and the next dominant language. Indeed policemen around Nigeria must be made to speak the three major Nigerian languages. Secondly, the State Security Service, SSS, needs to have a team that supports local intelligence gathering. I’m not saying they may not be doing that already, if they do, they need to up their game if they don’t, they need to start now. Things have seriously changed and our security architecture needs to change immediately.
Also, the police must be seen to be present in the communities they are allocated to work with. They too must have everyone’s details. At least every month, they should attend meetings with the community and attempt to knock on doors from time to time. In cities, the police must as a matter of urgent national importance withdraw their personnel from private businesses. Our police officers must no longer be seen wielding our guns on our uniform standing in front of a hotel or bank. That can never instil confidence or faith in a police that has been privatized. What if the offender has policemen in his premises how will the police become an impartial arbiter? We need to respect the police going forward returning them to their role to communities and not connected or rich people who can afford their services.
Government must no longer politicize security matters. It is shameful when we play with the lives of citizens on the platform of rivalry. National security is the reason we have a country. The investment in technology to fight crime like cameras can no longer be postponed. We need these urgently before we sink deeper into anarchy. The Offa robbery is an eye opener. We must not relapse. We must make changes. President Buhari can start by firing nearly all his top commanders.

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