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GOVERNANCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY: Community policing in Nigeria and Cameroon

A systemic use of partnerships between the police and communities towards problem-solving techniques set up by Lawyers Alert to proactively address immediate conditions that produce conflict and social order. Due to the peculiarities of insecurity issues in Guma and Katsina Ala LGAs of Benue State and that of the South West and North West of Cameroon, the community policing initiative is set up to repair and build strong ties between the police and the communities through utilizing communication mechanisms such as the early warning early response (EWER) systems to mitigate conflict and imbibe alertness within communities. We support the establishment of the Community Policing Committees (CPC) made up of representatives from the security agencies and pillars within the communities especially women and youths to adapt skills that will drive the intervention in these regions to success.

Part of our responsibilities is to increase the capacity of the CPC to carry out its duties, Lawyers Alert teams deployed to Guma, Katsina-Ala, and CHDRA to the SW and NW of  Cameron between16th - 19th April during the period for the CPC general monthly meeting to conduct a baseline survey, assess the security landscape, and administer a comprehensive capacity and needs assessment among the members. 

Because these CPC members serve as the voices and advocates for the people of Katsina-Ala, Guma, South West, and North West Cameroon under the project, our focus in this phase lies in understanding the needs and capabilities of the CPC members. Our ultimate objective is to identify where these committees require support, empowering them to initiate meaningful change within their communities and promote a stronger bond between security forces and the populace.

Our teams carried out the baseline and capacity assessment through a qualitative questionnaire to 40 State security officers, 12 traditional rulers, 6 Religious Leaders, 6 women leaders, 6 Local Government Council representatives, 6 youth representatives, and 6 state/local security personnel from the 4 project locations demonstrated gaps we will assist to bridge using the data collated to design a tailored capacity building exercises across of the regions and provision of other needed as indicated.

Let us seize this moment to stand behind them and champion this initiative, working together towards creating a safer and more harmonious environment for all.

COMMUNITY POLICING: Visits to stakeholders to increase awareness and acceptability.

The visits to two key stakeholders in Kastina-Ala Local Government of Benue State: Hon. Justine Orangoholga Shaku, the Caretaker Chairman of Katsina-Ala, and Tyoo Ornguga Bernard Ayolave, the Acting Ter Katsina-Ala was a purposeful reminder about an ongoing project in Katsina-Ala and to seek buy-in, especially as they are to be part of the Community Policing Committee (CPC) in the LGA and the change in leadership in both the Local government and traditional council.

At both meetings, The Caretaker Katsina-Ala local government council emphasized the significance of upholding peace in Katsina-Ala and pledged support for the community-led initiative within his jurisdiction. He acknowledged the project's goal of enhancing the relationship between law enforcement and the community, aligning with his duty to serve the people. 

Likewise, the Acting Traditional Ruler Katsina-Ala also endorsed the initiative for its potential to promote harmony and confidence between security personnel and the community.

CPC members in Cameroon community radio outreach

The community-led solution to insecurity and community policing relies heavily on the buy-in of the entire community for sustainability and effectiveness. In the Far North region of Cameroon, the committee, guided by our partner CHDRA, took to the airwaves of Radio Jamaare FM 105.2 to educate Maroua's community about the CPC's presence, accomplishments, and importance to the region. 

These efforts gained acceptance from the people and we are thrilled that this initiative resonated with Radio Jamaare FM 105.2, who pledged to collaborate with CHDRA to achieve the project's objectives by offering regular programming slots to the CPC.

FREEDOM OF PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY: Enhancing the rights to assemble peacefully.

Lawyers Alert team in Makurdi HQ paid a visit to AIG Ebong Eyibio Ebong, Zone 4 Headquarters, Makurdi Benue state to discuss the role of the Nigerian police in 

Shrinking civic space in Nigeria is classified by excessive use of force, arbitrary arrests and detention, and more restrictions. In envisioning a Nigeria where citizens can collectively pursue and express their views peacefully, free from interference or repression under our FOPA (Freedom of Peaceful Assembly) project in Nigeria, our team in Makurdi visited AIG Ebong Eyibio Ebong, Assistant Inspector General of the Nigeria Police Force Zone 4 Headquarters in Makurdi. They briefed him on the Freedom of Assembly project and the police's role in upholding these rights.

During the visit, the team emphasized that when the police fulfill their duties effectively and respectfully, they contribute to a democratic society where citizens can peacefully exercise their rights. 

AIG Ebong reiterated the significance of the phrase "police is your friend" pointing out the duty of the police to protect people and civic space during peaceful assemblies. He stressed the importance of citizens notifying the police during such gatherings for protection against potential infiltrators aiming to disrupt or cause harm.

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