Civil Defence, Repositioning Private Guard Companies and National Security


By Okwudili Onyeke

Thatthe Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) initiated the reform ofPrivate Guards Companies in tandem with President Jonathan’s transformationagenda aimed at tackling insecurity in Nigeria is a pointer to government’sresolve to bring about sanity and the much needed peace to the nation.

Thisreform which is being spearheaded by the Nigeria Security and Civil DefenceCorps as the body charged with the responsibility of monitoring, registering,training, supervising and licensing the company necessitated the riot actread  to the operatives by the Commandant General, Dr Ade Abolurin, with aview to properly reposition the industry to meet the present security needs ofthe society as a grassroots based security organisation.

Themajor focus is to develop new strategy on how to refocus the private guardscompany industry to meet up with the present challenge of insecurity and tochart a new course for the organisation. However, some strategies were adoptedwith a view of contributing meaningfully to the economy and security of thenation through effective monitoring of their respective environment,involvement in regular and adequate surveillance of infrastructure, movement,unlawful gathering of persons within and around their areas of coverage,reporting suspicious persons and activities to the security operative nearestto them.

Inmaking the operatives of the industry relevant so as to fit into governmentsetting, they were challenged and encouraged to partner, collaborate,participate in the activities of government by ensuring the success ofgovernment policies with a view to providing adequate and timely information onoccurrences, saboteurs and those with sinister motives in order to reduce theproblem of insecurity in the society.

Theneed for the repositioning, refocusing and transforming of the industry becomesnecessary due to the fact that, for effective protection and curbing of crimeno matter the dimension and the level of magnitude, the private guards companyoccupy a vantage position in view of the fact that they are next to the sceneof incidences most especially at the grassroots and areas where the regulargovernment security agencies are not available and as such, they are suppose torelate information immediately and adequately to the security agents ofgovernment in order to curtail incidences that are capable of circumventinggovernment’s efforts. It is pertinent to note that of recent there have beenclamour from different quarters on the issue of state police should be put inplace.

Consideringthe heated argument which arose from the debate, different schools of thoughtare of the opinion that Nigeria is not ripe for it; while others think that itis the best option in tackling the security challenges facing the nation. In viewof the development, the Corps is determined to reposition the industry to meetup with the demand and requirement of government in providing adequate securityfor the citizenry. Based on records, it is worthy of note that the PrivateGuards industry under the supervision of Civil Defence have undergonereformation and as at today the industry is professionalised with credibleNigerians that have served the nation in different capacities. Reports revealedthat between 2011- till date, Civil Defence Corps has licensed over 100companies, with about 30 companies awaiting license, over 70 companies weresealed for not having operating license and 350 licenses renewed with millionsof naira generated and remitted to government coffers.

Itis as a result of the standard and record set by the Civil Defence Corps inmaking the industry a viable economic base for the Nation as well as refocusingit to cope and meet with the security challenges, that the Commandant Generalof the Corps Dr. Ade Abolurin, while presenting license to forty-five (45)companies read the riot act to them. According to Abolurin, the license issuedis an instrument given to enable the receipients operate legallly within thecountry.

Heencouraged them to discourage quacks from operating. He also warned operativesagainst the use of insignia, uniform, belt and other items belonging to othersecurity agents as well as the use of acronyms that sound like names of any ofthe government security body. The license, he cautioned, could be withdrawn ifany of the companies is found to be anti-government or using it for purposesother than what it is meant for. Also if the company is perceived to haveforeigners as its board of directors or involved in espionage and or sabotage.

Abolurinreiterate the Corps’ commitment in repositioning the Private Guards Company tobe more responsive and proactive in fighting crimes in the society and to makethem more relevant in wiping out crimes. This, he said, could be achievedthrough training and retraining of the PGC operatives especially in the area ofintelligence gathering and strengthening grass root security via surveillanceand monitoring of critical infrastructure and the environment.

ThePrivate Guard Companies if properly harnessed, could form the nucleus of thecommunity policing at the grassroots level considering the wealth of experienceof the operators especially with the backing and supervision of the CivilDefence Corps. This will reduce the call for state police whose operation wouldbe dependent on the whims and caprices of state governors.

Theprivate guards companies, as a private organisations equipped with training onintelligence gathering and provided with the necessary tools can functioneffectively by giving timely reports and information to security agencies mostespecially the Civil Defence Corps that is responsible for its operationthrough her supervisory role as enshrined in the NSCDC Act No 2 of 2003 asamended in NSCDC Amendment Act No 6 of 2007.

OkwudiliOnyeke is of the Society for Good Governance



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