Friday, March 25, 2011

e-Policing As Panacea To Kidnapping

Hafiz Ringim, Nigeria'a IGP


“It is possible to fail in many ways...while to succeed is possible only in one way”.
   -Aristotle, Greek critic, philosopher, physicist, & zoologist (384 BC - 322 BC)

Is it not a shame that it took the abduction of four journalists for both the government and the Nigeria Police to unleash all that is in their arsenal to prove that they can still guarantee the security of lives of the Nigerian citizenry? Is it not equally a shame that what was preventable was allowed to stretch the country’s security apparatus to an unimaginable limit after eight days of nerve-racking and tension soaked searching?
It is painful that in an age when information technology applications are being deployed to better the lives of the earth’s inhabitants, the Nigeria Police considered the largest in the continent of Africa, is yet to appreciate the importance of these in its overall security responsibilities. The Nigeria Police from every indication still lives in the past and is yet to come to terms with current global paradigm shift to the knowledge space.
Today, due to sophistication in crime perpetration across the globe, there is a gradual shift to the adoption of e-Policing (electronic policing) strategies as solutions to combating all manner of crimes. Some countries are already transforming to Electronic Police States thereby allowing government through its security agents like the police, to monitor telephone (mobile or fixed) traffic, emails, Internet surfing, video surveillance and other forms of electronic tracking.
One glaring characteristic of an Electronic Police State is that inhabitants of a state may almost be completely unaware of the recording of their communications and activities by State security agencies, which of course could be used against them as evidence in law courts. The data is quietly gathered and stored for prosecutions in future.
Yes, some people may express strong concerns over privacy invasion and abuse but the benefits of these surveillances to the citizenry far outweigh whatever negativities accompanying such exercise. That is why some people strongly believe that the State owes it as a duty to monitor everything it can to keep its citizens safe.
However, e-Policing does not seem to be a tea party as massive infrastructure is required to make this work. In our own case, there should be reliable power supply in all nooks and crannies of the country as crime perpetration is not an exclusive of the urban areas. In fact bigger crimes like that of kidnapping thrive more in rural areas. Therefore, the Nigeria Police must be equipped with modern security gadgets as is obtainable in other lands and climes.
In addition to other provisions, there should be a holistic deployment of ICT infrastructure across the country- from building of Community ICT centres to Internet connectivity to telephone access. Thank God for the efforts of some of the telecom operators who are running rings round the country with fibre optic cables, networking of the ICT solutions needed for the success of this concept, wouldn’t be a big problem. 
The Nigeria Police should work more closely with GSM operators now to assist them in providing the required information to track down kidnappers and other criminals who see in the mobile phone, an indispensible partner in their heinous crimes of sending death threats, blackmailing innocent members of the public, making and sending unsolicited calls and text messages, duping by trick as well as armed robbery.
And that is why the SIM Card registration exercise embarked upon by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in conjunction with telephone operators in the country should be supported by the Police. The successful implementation of this project will go a long way to assisting the Police in fighting crimes in this country especially the hydra-headed kidnapping issue.
It is no longer in doubt that the Nigeria Police is underequipped to fight the sophisticated Nigerian criminal. What needs to be done at this moment is to ensure that a process of moving the Nigeria Police from the traditional analogue method of fighting crime to the modern electronic means of combating crime, is commenced as soon as possible. There shouldn’t be any further delay.
Reports had it that for the Police to successfully rescue the four journalists abducted in Obingwa, Abia State, it had to deploy some tracking equipment allegedly borrowed from a Nigerian-based Israeli Intelligence consultant and the State Security Service (SSS). The equipment was used in not only tracing the abductors calls but locating their hideout. That is the power of e-Policing.
The importance of e-Policing to the Nigeria Police cannot be overemphasised as it has the potential of opening new ways of doing business for the police, not only through newly available tools but also by creating an interactive flow of information between the Police and the citizen. This proposed new way of Policing will foster two-way communication and provide better access for both the public and the police.
An electronic Nigeria Police is a guarantee for the safety of lives of the Nigerian citizenry.

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