Warmongers in Nigeria should come to Somalia and learn —Peace-keeping police chief Dundun

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HOW has the war impacted on Somali society and what lessons can we learn in Nigeria?

Somalia has been in conflict for over two decades. When I arrived in 2011, there was massive destruction of both human and physical infrastructure. Anytime there is conflict in Nigeria, I say to myself, people that want to talk about conflict and war, put them in a plane to Somalia to see the catastrophic effect of war and they would go home peacefully.

There is hardly any building in Mogadishu that was not affected by the conflict that took place here. The effect was devastating. A lot of people lost their lives. There is hardly a family that didn’t have a casualty. It is a big lesson for Africa.

Is this your first mission outside Nigeria?

No. I was in Liberia between 2004 and 2005 as a reform officer. I took part in the reform process and the rebuilding process of the Liberian Police Force. That mission was with the United Nations. Between 2006 and 2007, I was also in Darfur. I was the head of the training unit in Dafur with the African Union. This is my third mission.

How many Nigerian police officers are here?

We have a whole unit of Front Police Unit (FPU). In Nigeria, we call them the Mobile Police. It consists of 140 officers. And then we have individual police experts numbering 25. They are experts in various fields—trainers, reform police officers, staff officers in the headquarters, logisticians. I am the only member of the senior leadership team in the AU police.

What were the initial challenges and how were you able to overcome them?

Definitely, you have to draw from your past experiences. However, this mission is very unique. Although your past experience counts, this mission has its own peculiarities if you look at the culture of Somalia and the nature of the conflict that took place here.

If you look at the security challenge, you know that we have a unique situation. I was in Liberia, but there was nothing like asymmetric attack or terrorism. The people of Liberia were tired of fighting and they accepted development. So it was very easy for Liberia to move from conflict situation to post-conflict development.

I was in Darfur. Not as open as what we had in Liberia, but there was nothing like terrorism. But in this mission where we are faced with terrorists attacks, it becomes difficult. And the society is so fragmented. When you talk about clan system, it is difficult to operate freely.

What we preach in the AU is community policing. You have to integrate your security measures with members of the community, which means you have to interact with them. Now, that interaction and coordination becomes handicapped because of the security challenges here.

Members of the Police here do not have free access. They are afraid of attacks. That is the most serious challenge we face here. In fact, the UN does not go to where we have ongoing hostilities. There must have been a cessation of hostilities with ceasefire agreements signed. In Somalia, we have an ongoing conflict, yet we have a duty to perform. We have to strike a balance between these two extremes.

Where is the Front Police Unit?

They are deployed here in Mogadishu. The Individual Police Experts do not bear arms. They are trainers working in police academy, reform experts assisting the local police to draft laws and policies. When we noticed this big lacuna, we had to bring in the mobile police to provide operational support to the local police and also act as guards to the individual police experts when they go out.

How will you rate the performance of the Nigerian police in Somalia?

Excellent! They have done exceptionally well. Anywhere we go, it has been praises.

Why can’t the police perform excellently back at home?

When we are on international duties, we get all these accolades. Probably the dynamics, the complexities of the environment they work in are very different from what obtains in Nigeria. Probably the working tools, the motivation, training, etc.

Is Nigeria the largest contingent here in Somalia?

Yes, in the police.

But is that not giving too much? We need these policemen back home.

We are not giving too much. Don’t forget that these personnel, apart from bringing them to assist a fellow African nation, you are also exposing and training your officers for higher capacity back home. They will not be in Somalia forever. When they go back to Nigeria, they perform exceptionally well. It is a developmental process. You bring them to the international scene, they get the exposure, and when they go back home, they contribute better to policing in Nigeria. So don’t see it as giving too much.

At the same time, we are developing the capacity of the officers. Look at the hierarchy of the Nigerian police. Even the present Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, went through this process. He was in Namibia where he performed so well. All these prepared him for the position he is now.

The Nation Nigeria

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