Stakeholders in the private security sector last week at a forum in Lagos disagreed over the status of the some security outfits like the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), the Egbesu Boys among others in the security architecture of the country.
The forum tagged, “Private Security Governance Forum for South-West Zone was put together by the African Law Foundation (Afri Law) with support from Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance.
Speaking in his opening address, the Coordinator, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Lagos State, Barr. Lukas Koyejo stated that in the past, the private security companies were providing mostly monotype security services like providing security for public buildings adding that due to the current security situation in the country, the escalation of crimes in urban areas and suburbs, there had been a revolutionary change in demand for services due to increased risk on human lives.
He said, “So, that is why we have the communities requiring for private security organizations. We have organizations like OPC coming in and providing security and some other organizations like that and those organizations need to be regulated, government needs to come in to regulate them so that they will operate according to a standard that is expected in order to protect the human rights of the people.”
Presenting the Baseline Study on private Security Governance in Nigeria, the Executive Director, Centre for 21st Century Issues (C21st), Mrs. Gbemisola Titilope Akosa faulted the classification of the OPC as a private security outfit saying that the group and others like it in the country should be called what they are, ethnic militias.
According to Akosa, it will be wrong for a group that is championing an ethnic interest rather than the national interest to be classified as private security organization arguing that security should be about the national interest and not about ethnicity.
“For me, I don’t classify them as private security, I may be wrong. And we have had proliferation of all these ethnic militias. They may have their good sides but then I think it is more disadvantageous looking at it from the real point of security and at the point of Nigeria as a nation rather than looking at us as an ethnic group. So, it is very important we understand this”, she stated.
However, coming back to justify his position, Barr. Lukas Koyejo observed that there was the need to bring the OPC within the security apparatus to see how they can be regulated as according to him, “the reality on ground is that they are providing security covering the residential areas even commercial, corporate organizations are employing them.”
“So, we cannot overlook that they are not doing that. You can call them whatever you like; militia, social-cultural group or whatever but they are advance in what they are doing and studying them, they are actually organized.
“So, we begin to think outside the box on how we can bring some of these people to train them, to liaise with them and to see how they can be well organized. We should not underrate them because the reality is that they are doing the work”, he emphasized.
On his part, a representative of the New Nigeria Foundation, Mr. Fred Nwogu who questioned if the South-West regional security outfit, Amotekun qualified as a private security outfit or a vigilante group pointed out that Amotekun was not a private security outfit just like Egbesu Boys, Neighbourhood Watch, OPC among others.
He however cautioned that “in the case of Amotekun, for example, they may metamorphosed into something that may be useful but if you do not also begin like this to begin to put the right measures in place, we will continue to have this kind of scenario.”
“It is also good for us to have a good governance structure for everyone but in this case, we are talking about the private security sector”, he added.
Photo: (L-R): The Lagos State Chairman, Association of Licensed Private Security Paractitioners of Nigeria (ALPSPN), Mr. Tunde Mumuni, Lagos State Coordinator, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Barr. Lukas Koyejo, representative of the Commandant General, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Dr. Ahmed Abubakar Audi, Deputy Commandant Ayodeji Agoro and the National Assistant Secretary, Association of Licensed Private Security Paractitioners of Nigeria (ALPSPN), Mrs. Cynthia Gregg during the forum in Lagos on Wednesday.