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Community Vigilantes in Metropolitan Kano 1985-2005

Rasheed Olaniyi

6. Conclusion and Policy Recommendations

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1Intensive communal initiatives are regenerating urban security in Nigeria. As the waning capacity of the police could not curtail the soaring rate of crime and armed banditry, the citizens set up communal policing networks to protect the urban neighbourhoods. Urban regeneration was driven by the multiplicity of cooperation between the police and the communal security networks.

2In Kano, connections between the informal security networks are seemingly lacking, which poses challenges for an urban-wise informal security network. Indeed, the collapse of urban security governance gave impetus to fragmented forms of policing and there is an upsurge in the commercial sector of the security provisioning within the urban space. The gap between different forms of vigilante groups, conflicting political motivations and the near discordant relations with the police produced a dysfunctional mechanism for crime control.

3Mandates of the security networks differ and are often conflicting. While some areas are “over-policed” (gated streets, private security guards, police patrol, neighbourhood vigilante and high wall fences) some areas lacked all the security provisions. Areas that could not finance their security provisioning were highly vulnerable to crime. There was a spill-over of crime from areas that were over-policed to areas that were under-policed.

4The PCRC minimised the barrier that existed between the police and the citizens, which engendered mutual cooperation between the citizens and the police. In several instances the PCRC provided funds to support police activities. The collapse of gated neighbourhoods in some parts of Sabongari has increased the rate of crime and armed robbery attacks that the PCRC/ police patrols could not tackle. Police should reciprocate by intensifying its patrol operations in collaboration with the community to reduce crime. Indeed, the police require exercising its statutory powers. If its roles of policing communities are abdicated other groups and individuals will perform such roles and complicate the process of crime control as well as produce new security problems. It is imperative to overhaul and reform the police in such a way that it woudd be reinvigorated to coordinate and organise community policing.

5This research shows the simmering tension between police and Hisba corps and inadequate support from government incapacitated the activities of the vigilante groups. Indeed, the police was often hesitant to prosecute suspects arrested by the vigilante groups. The activities of the traditional vigilante groups and Hisba have reduced the high rate of juvenile delinquency in metropolitan Kano. An effective synergy between Hisba and the PCRC at the local government levels would bolster the public order capacity of the community vigilante groups. In particular, Hisba requires training in religious plurality and social diversity in order to sustain its legitimacy and harmonious co-existence in Kano.

6Based on the interviews and fieldwork observations, the following recommendations are hereby suggested:

  1. Vigilante groups should desist from partisan politics in order to discharge their constitutional duties effectively;
  2. Police should consider vigilante groups as working partners and therefore prosecute suspects handed over to them in order to ensure justice, minimise crime and boost the morale of the vigilante groups;
  3. Recruitment into the police should be more transparent and strictly in accordance with police policy regulations to avoid recruiting criminals into the police;
  4. The training and equipment of the police should be more sophisticated to expose them to scientific techniques of combating the rising trend of armed banditry;
  5. The PCRC should be replicated in all the neighbourhoods of Kano in such a way that it will formalise police-vigilante working relations and restore the public faith in the police;
  6. The government needs to galvanise its effort in enlightening people about the programmes of Hisba board in relation to crime control and its relationship with the police;
  7. Vigilante groups and Hisba corps require para-legal and diversity trainings in order to ensure that the rights of citizens are not violated;
  8. There is a need to harmonise the activities of the police and informal security agencies in such a way that they will not consider one another as rival groups but as partners in combating crime;
  9. Traditional authorities should be encouraged to be pro-active in the security of their domains; and
  10. A comprehensive urban security policy is required in order to counteract the rise of crime and rectify the gap that exists between the various security networks.

© IFRA-Nigeria, 2005

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