Conflict is normal in every human relationship be it at the corporate or individual levels. This is because human perception on issues and needs differ. Conflict is not entirely bad-as we perceive it- but what is negative about conflict is the way we respond to it.
This assertion substantially informs the series of workshops held by CLEEN Foundation in partnership with local government councils and security agencies in the South East and South West regions in the country. The two pillars on which the workshops stand are conflict management and crime prevention and they are geared toward addressing the incidence of clashes and herdsmen across some communities in the country.The project is supported by the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) and is implemented in Ezeagu LGA in Enugu State, Isiukwuato LGA in Abia State, Ideato North in Imo State in South East region, and Saki East and West LGAs in Oyo State and Ikole-Ekiti LGA in Ekiti State in South West region.
From all indications, the Isuikwuato LGA edition which was a capacity building workshop for community policing groups in the area held at the council headquarters last week was a huge success. The workshop attracted heads of security agencies in the area from the State Security Services (SSS), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corp (NSCDC), to the police. Worthy to note is the attendance of the South East Chairman of Miyyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association who was represented by the Abia State Chairman, Alhaji Hassan Buba.
The workshop achieved its desired goal which is to provide a platform for engagement and dialogue with specific focus to highlight and discuss the cost, impact and burden of the continued clashes and conflicts in society with emphasis on how it affects the local communities, local government, state and the country at large, that would encourage and ensure collaborative efforts in mapping out local strategies to address the problems and increase communication and engagement amongst all stakeholders concerned, and also intended to build the capacity of herdsmen and rural dwellers on conflict management and crime prevention as well as providing opportunities for information sharing and networking between participants and the security agents to ensure easy access to security personnel and prompt response to distress calls.
Buba’s continuous sue for peace and harmonious co-existence between the herders and the communities was a strong signal that something positive in the relationship between the herdsmen and the communities is in the offing. His incessant appeals to the communities to always seek the attention of the leadership cattle breeders association in situations of emergency was neither misplaced.
The drillings of the Neighbourhood Watch, which serves as a community policing outfit ,on their limitations as stipulated by either the constitution or other laws in the discharge of their duties by security and conflict management experts in the workshop, was a big boost to the success of the project.
Like Ifeanyi Anyanwu, the project coordinator of CLEEN Foundation, strongly emphasised in his presentation, respect for human rights is key in the discharge of functions of the neighbourhood watch. Respect for rights such as rights to life, human dignity,fair hearing, dinity of human person is non- negotiable.
It will be recalled that community policing as a complementary measure to the duties of the Nigeria Police has in the past and present come under serious criticism. Some of the issues that generate these negative criticisms are the penchant of members of the commnunity policing groups to detain suspects and to carry arms. But these were roundly put to rest by ACP Vungmoh Kwaimo in his presentation”Basic Policing Skills”. Kwaimo did not mince words in telling members of the neighbourhood watch that they do not possses any right to detaind a suspect rather once they arrest any suspect that they should hand him over to the police for prosecution.
He stressed that members of neighbourhood watch are forbidden from carrying firearms.Also, issues bordering on funding , recruitment process, among others, were squarely addressed.