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February 26, 2024
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Tackling cross-border crimes in FCT and neigbouring states

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By Philip Yatai, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

In July 2022 the residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and its neighbouring states were gripped with fear over the escape of over 800 inmates from Kuje prison, the nation’s foremost correctional centre.

The incident generated reactions from stakeholders who expressed shock at the level of security crisis in the country and stressed the need for a working synergy among security agencies to address security challenges.

In December of the same year, the FCT Police Command arrested three suspected kidnappers connected to the abduction of residents in Kasanki village, Gwagwalada area of the territory.

The suspects, all male residents of Niger State, were arrested by the special anti-crime operation, code-named, Operation G-7.

In May 2023, Nigerian security forces rescued 58 people who were abducted by gunmen in Kogi state, near Abuja.

The Nigerian police said in a statement that the rescue mission was part of G-7 Operations initiated to fight violent crimes, rescue victims, and nab offenders around FCT and neighbouring states.

The G-7 is made up of FCT and its six neighbouring states, namely Benue, Kaduna, Kogi, Nasarawa, Niger and Plateau States.

It was initiated in 2007 by the then Minister of the FCT, Dr Modibbo Umar, and meant to deal with crimes that were plaguing the FCT and its contiguous states.

However, in spite of the successes being recorded by the G-7 joint operations, stakeholders expressed concerns that criminals were taking advantage of the country’s porous interstate borders.

Cross border crimes include illegal and notorious activities carried out by individuals and groups across national and international borders, either for financial, socio-political, or religious gains.

They identified some of the criminal activities as human trafficking, kidnappings, drug trafficking, arm robbery, money laundry and illicit arms trafficking or religion-related crimes.

Security experts argued that criminals currently have escalated their trick of committing crimes outside their traditional boundaries where they are not known or go into hiding in neighbouring state after committing crimes.

According to the experts, the increasing cross-border crime has huge implications for internal and international security.

They particularly argued that the development threatens the security integrity of the nation’s seat of power, FCT, adding that Abuja has continued to face serious security challenges due to cross-border criminal activities.

Worried by this development, the FCT Administration on July 7, convened the 9th G-7 Technical Committee Meeting in Abuja, to tackle the upsurge of criminal elements traversing the FCT and the neighbouring states.

The committee comprised, security chiefs of FCT and cooperating states are: Commissioners of Police, State Directors of Department of State Security Services, and Commandants of Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps.

The Permanent Secretary, FCT Administration, Mr Olusade Adesola, told participants at the meeting that the G-7 provides opportunities for intelligence gathering, sharing and joint-border operations.

Adesola said in the last couple of years, the G-7 have recorded tremendous results, in containing incidences of cross boarder kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery, and vandalisation of public infrastructures, amongst others.

“It is on this premise that the FCT Administration, during its regular Security Meeting, May 27 saw the need to reconvene the G-7 States Technical Committee Meeting.

“The objective of the meeting was to review operational strategies that would guarantee optimal success in the efforts to tackle security challenges bedeviling the seven-member states.

“Security, as we are all aware, is a fundamental pillar upon which any thriving society is built and an essential component that ensures the safety, well-being, and prosperity of our residents.

“In recognition of this fact, the FCT Administration has consistently prioritised the platform for the enhancement of security measures within our territory and beyond.

`He said recently, the administration provided several operational vehicles and security gadgets to security agencies within the Territory, in a bid to effectively combat crime and criminalities.

The Permanent Secretary said the nature of threats and challenges has become increasingly complex in a rapidly evolving world.

He said that criminal elements were continuously adapting and exploiting technological advancements to further their illicit activities.

This, according to him, requires dynamic approaches such as synergy and joint operations among other strategies to overcome the nefarious activities of these criminally minded individuals.

Similarly, the Director, FCT Security Services Department, Adamu Gwary, said that the G-7 initiative would strengthen collective efforts in fighting security challenges, particularly cross-border crime.

“Recently, we experienced an upsurge in cross border crimes, forcing the FCT Security Committee to convene the meeting with a view to adopting a unified approach in fighting cross border crime.

“This will ensure that whenever the FCT is fighting security challenges, it will be taking place simultaneously in other states,” he said.

On the functionality of the G-7 initiative, the Chairman of the Technical Committee, Commissioner of Police, FCT Command, Mr Haruna Garba, said the initiative represents a united front.

Garba said that the G-7 brought together the collective expertise and experience of member states to tackle the prevailing security challenges facing the states.

He said the initiative would enable the states to pull their resources, both human and materials, to fight the criminals simultaneously.

“When FCT alone is in operation, the criminals will run into the forest and bushes of Niger, Kaduna, Nasarawa or Kogi states and escape.

“But if it is a joint operation, as we are pushing from the FCT, the neighbourings states are also pushing, we will be able to collectively put the criminals in the middle and arrest them,” he said.

The commissioner urged coordinated efforts from all stakeholders given the complexity of fighting crime in new technology-driven world.

“This will not only mitigate existing threats to the collective survival of the FCT and the contiguous state, but also prevent future ones.

“Our collaboration, coordination, and seamless exchange of intelligence will undoubtedly serve as the bedrock of our success.

“Leveraging of the G-7 platform will foster understanding, strengthen partnerships, and devise innovative strategies that will defeat crime and criminality,” he said.

However, while joint operations through collaboration, coordination, and intelligence sharing seem plausible on paper security experts argue that no security operation would succeed without community participation.

Sharing this view, the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of Zone 7, Adebowale Williams, called on the member states to involve community structures in addressing security challenges peculiar to each state.

Williams urged the G-7 states to consider community policing in their strategies by carrying the communities along in the security operations to ensure success.

He equally urged the member states to be proactive, particularly when any member of the G-7 is faced with security breach to prevent it from spilling over to their own states.

The Commissioner of the Police, Nigeria Police Command in Kaduna State, Musa Garba, said “there is no good policy without collaborations.

“Sharing of ideas and experiences among the neighbouring states will enable us to address both similar and peculiar challenges.

“Although states might differ, the criminals are the same and roam about the seven states,” he said.

According criminologists, security is the pillar upon which any society is built. It is therefore essential that security agencies work together to ensure the safety, well-being, and prosperity of residents.

One challenge the G-7 strategy faces is the imbalance in the human and operational resources at the disposal of each state, bridging this gap is essential if the approach will deliver on expectations,

Therefore, state governments should collaborate with Federal Government by prioritising funding and equipping various security agencies in their areas to minimise the differences the same level of firepower. (NANFeatures)(www.nannews.ng)

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