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To Secure Our Space and Survive the Terrors: A Review of Oyesoji Aremu’s Policing and Terrorism: Challenges and Issues in Intelligence

Book Title: Policing and Terrorism: Challenges and Issues in Intelligence

Author: Oyesoji Aremu

Publishers: Stirling-Horden Publishers Ltd.

Year: 2014

Pages: 183

Reviewer: Aderemi Raji-Oyelade

...the major challenge is how to sustain and maintain democracy and development in the face of growing security threats. This is a matter of national importance that should be of concern to all stakeholders in the Nigerian state and one that requires comprehensive and committed contributions of all groups and interests that make up the country. 

Quoted from Chapter 5, “Emotional Intelligence and Policing in the 21st Century”. (66)

Some books achieve significance after their time; some define their time; some are timeless; and some command attention because of the time they arrive. Let me note that Oyesoji Aremu’s book, Policing and Terrorism: Challenges and Issues in Intelligence has arrived timeously, in both significance and topicality. Not only would it pluck attention because of the subject of focus, but it will achieve significance because of the scope of discourse, and perhaps, its timelessness will be in its historical significance as one of the first books by a Nigerian academic on the nexus of criminology, intelligence and terrorism.

With the rising spate of violence and political unrest in Nigeria today, the subject of insecurity has become a popular notion across the length and breadth of the nation. At the heart of insecurity are such numbing factors as political assassination, religious extremism and ethno-political agitations. Homegrown terrorism, hitherto unheard of, has become a fearsome component of the Nigerian society. It is in the ascendancy of this homegrown terrorism, in this uncertain time, that Policing and Terrorism: Challenges and Issues in Intelligence, appears.

As terms used generally in public discourse, current affairs and interaction, “police” and “policing” are real staple words with familiar interpretations; but the term “terrorism” is a distant term, only made familiar to the average man on the streets by stories from other countries in Europe, Asia, South America and the Middle East particularly, attaining forceful presence in the public imagination on the occasion of the Twin Tower bombing of September 11, 2001 in New York, USA. Perhaps the earliest “act” of terrorism that was visited upon the Nigerian national psyche occurred on October 19, 1986 when the renowned journalist, Dele Giwa was killed with a parcel bomb in circumstances that remain controversial till today.

Policing and Terrorism: Challenges and Issues in Intelligence is segmented into ten chapters, all investigative and instructive in terms of understanding the theory and practice of policing, especially in the Nigerian context. It offers some perspectives relating to insecurity and terrorism. In addition, it instructs on a broader viewpoint into the challenges of policing, providing fundamental theoretical dimensions towards curbing the menace of social disorder and civil unrest. 

In the first chapter, the author provides the background to the establishment of the Nigeria Police from its colonial origin to its contemporary status as a modern constabulary in an African nation.  The discerning reader will find the basis of the time-worn distrust which exists between the police and the people; as a police scholar, the author therefore canvasses early in the book for a “people-oriented police organization”, admitting in the same breath that policing in Nigeria can be “stressful and daunting” (12). The author makes considerable attempt at a reassessment of the origin and the purpose of policing. This idea, thoughtfully elaborated on in Chapter Two, serves a dual purposes. First, it is a cogent reminder to the Nigerian Police force of its beginnings and set objectives, which is summarized as the protection of lives and the enforcement of law and order. Second, it serves as a public orientation about the usefulness and integrity of the Nigeria Police as a constabulary force, with a view to increasing the productivity and effectiveness of policing.

The third chapter of the book settles mainly on the concept and value of community policing, and in so doing, the author attempts a re-evaluation of the state police system in Nigeria. As he had submitted in his 2009 book, Understanding Nigerian Police: Lessons from Psychological Research, Aremu emphasizes the need for the police to be aware of their own perception and their attitude and relations with the public. This is what he referred to as “emotional intelligence”. For community policing, the author provides such specific emotional intelligence competencies as self-awareness, assertiveness, self-actualisation, empathy, social responsibility, interpersonal relationships, and optimism (41-44). 

The author deserves commendation for the commitment of research on the need to revamp the policing system in the country for the ultimate achievement of stability in the polity. The author provides a credible opinion on the need for state policing as a practical panacea to the rising spate of armed robbery, ritual killings, ethno-religious crises, among others. However, he objectively identifies with the political disadvantages of the creation of state policing in which corruption becomes a key factor. That this vice was elaborately discussed in Chapter Four indicates the severity of the situation. Clearly, the chapter is an attempt to profile corruption within the police system. The author would do well in subsequent research to devote more time and focus on this endemic branch of our polity, corruption, which has been described as the unifying culture of the Nigerian state, because I believe that one chapter will not do any justice to what the author should address not only as corruption in the police, but as police as corruption. 

Chapter Five is a close reading of the significance and value of “emotional intelligence” for a career choice in the police system. It is no doubt a piece of literature for any aspiring police officer and other military personnel. This chapter focuses on the significance of self development, using an emotive module called Emotional Intelligence (EI). This is simply defined as a form of social intelligence which involves the ability to monitor one’s feelings and emotions as well as others. Here, the reader is educated on the relevance of EI, as, according to experts in this field, it “accounts for 80 per cent of human intelligence” (59), contrary to General Intelligence (IQ), which only accounts for a maximum approximate of 20 per cent of human intelligence. In sum, there is the need for an emotional and psychological upgrade for effecting policing.

In other words, it has been posited that EI could influence career aspirations of police trainees in Nigeria, such that they can become “self aware, engage in self-regulation and equally demonstrate affection and warmth” (62). Therefore Emotional Intelligence is said to be germane to organizational success, human capability, social and psychological competence as well as emotional instinct to survive and achieve success. With time, perhaps the police-citizen relationship in Nigeria, which is presently marked by deep-rooted suspicion and distrust, would attain a state of mutually beneficial emotional co-habitation. 

The challenges of the Nigerian Police are well enumerated in the following chapter. These include the escalating rate of crime and terrorism, political interference, the image, integrity and structure of the Police system itself, as well as the challenge of quality assurance, among others. 

In the subsequent concluding chapter of the book, the author proffers some salient issues which would resolve the problems of brigandage and insecurity. Beginning with some impressionable theoretical frameworks on the issue of crime and criminology, the author expounds on the discourse of crime and terrorism from a systematic perspective. According to him, policing has emerged as a behavioural science of which scholars of diverse disciplines such as Psychology, Sociology, Psychiatry, History, Anthropology, Economics, among others, have embraced. This no doubt underscores the import and growth rate of crime and criminality in the country. 

Aremu imputs that the job of policing is not only to arrest criminals for prosecution, but to arrest crimes and criminalities (85). In accounting for what he terms human “criminogenic” behaviours, he devotes ample space to a number of reformatory psychology theories including choice theory, deterrence theory, bio-social theory, and psycho-dynamic theory of correctional psychology, etc (87-102).

Chapter Eight spells out details on the profiling of the most popular homegrown terrorist group, Boko Haram, with a considerably detailed account of the patterns that emerge from its heinous crimes. The menace of Boko Haram and its trail of violence has become an unconscious fear on the national psyche. The statistics recorded in this book is surely an eye-opener to the immediate need for an improvement in the security apparatus of this nation. Page 106 to 110 captures a diary of major insurgencies in Nigeria, beginning with the September 7, 2010 Bauchi Prison break to the December 2, 2013 attack of military locations in Maiduguri. There were 52 insurgencies in total recorded in the book. These are made graphic by gruesome pictures of some of the dastardly bombings which left scores of people dead.

Chapter Nine provides an insight into the issue of terrorism. Starting with relevant concepts such as ethology, psychoanalysis, cognitive theories and so on, the author argues that terrorism is a multi-dimensional predicament that must be looked into holistically for any meaningful interference to take place. The last chapter therefore reveals new perspectives in policing and crime, which would go a long way in ameliorating the contending forces of crime and terrorism in the country. The author sums up his vision in an interesting quip by canvassing for what he calls “value-added policing”. The ground for what VAP is in the concluding statement of the eighth chapter of the book in which he states that “for a paradigm shift in the police, personnel at the point of enlistment must go through psychological screening” (118).

There is no doubt that this book is well-researched and painstakingly written. It is quite informative but more importantly, it subjects the reader to a reflective mood. Rather than cast aspersions at the Nigeria Police all the time, there is a sympathetic understanding on the efforts of the force so far in terms of curbing crimes. Save for minimal typographical errors as found in parts of the text, there is no doubt that this book is a remarkable book which will be useful now and even beyond this time. This is indeed a remarkable book, recommended not only to the Nigeria Police, but to governments at all levels, including their agencies and other security and defence personnel, the various intelligence bureaus, security and intelligence policy makers, peace and conflicts scholars as well as the general reader.

Since the issue of safety and national security practically concerns all and sundry, this book is a must read for us all. Who knows? The knowledge acquired from Oyesoji Aremu’s book may become very valuable in days to come.


Aderemi Raji-Oyelade