The Gombe State Police Command has inaugurated the Eminent Persons’ Forum, as part of the Community Policing Strategy to tackle ethnic and religious upheavals in some parts of the state.
The forum is a policy of the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, for each state to have a platform in which stakeholders can help in mediation in security challenges.
According to the Gombe State Police Commissioner, Mr. Austin Iwar, the command is deeply committed to ensure the success of the forum, because the business of security requires the collaboration of stakeholders at all levels.
“Generally, the Gombe state Eminent Persons’ Forum is designed to provide uniform platform for senior citizens of the state to contribute to improved security of the state”. Said Mr. Iwar
The eminent persons in the forum is comprised of retired civil servants, religious leaders, retired senior security officers, as well as traditional and community leaders, who are to assist in mediation and social controls during security challenges in any part of the state.
Gombe State has had its bitter experience of ethnic and communal clashes as well as land disputes.
These have been described as challenges that have pushed the gains of the 20 year old state backwards.
According to the Gombe State Police Commissioner, Mr. Austin Iwar, the command has recorded 20 rape cases between January and November, this year, but that the number might be much higher, while 26 communal clashes of various dimensions have been recorded from 1999 to date, due to land disputes and boundary disagreements, which have resulted in the loss of lives.
Mr. Iwar said this year alone, six communal clashes had occurred, mostly in Kaltungo-Billiri-Shongom-Bambam Axis, which led to the death of two people and the destruction of properties worth millions.
To correct the negative trend, the Gombe State Police Command inaugurated the forum, which is set to bring together stakeholders in the state to mediate and control security challenges when they arise.
Mr. Iwar therefore said the inauguration and collaboration with the Eminent Persons’ Forum would focus on long term programmes that would ultimately guarantee the future of the state.
“The Gombe State Eminent Persons’ Forum on Safety and Security will assist security agencies in identifying solutions and strategies for improved security. When functional, the forum will have a number of sub forums that will deliberate on various security challenges of the state and recommend solutions to the state government and relevant security agencies”, Mr. Iwar said.
The Governor of Gombe State, Dr. Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, who was represented at the inauguration by his Deputy, Dr. Charles Iliya, said the way the forum had been accepted by the eminent persons selected showed how important the issue had become, because it encompassed all people involved in security.
“ When you stand here and you look at the gathering in this house, it’s only then that you know that, or you know the importance of the topic and the way the topic has been accepted by the people of Gombe State.That’s very true, because it combines people that are involved in security. You have the security outfits themselves, you have our Royal Fathers, who before now were in charge of security and many other things, which the constitution of Nigeria has changed. Then of course, you have every other fellow and the thing is that security is for all”, said Governor Dankwambo.
The Speaker of the Gombe State House of Assembly, Nasiru Ahmed Nono, who was represented by the Majority Leader, Mr. Amos Fabulous, since the flashpoints had been identified for the various challenges, the forum should come up with the right solutions, while allowing the law to its course.
The Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice in Gombe State, Mr. Abdulhamid Ibrahim, emphasised on reporting verifiable information which is vital for security.
Various issues treated at the inauguration of the Eminent Persons’ Forum include Curbing Youth Restiveness and violence, the Impact of Conflict/Crises Over Land Ownership and Farming on Economic Development, Current Issues and Future Expectations, Eliminating of Trans-human Clashes, as well as the Impact of Drug Abuse on Youth Development and Gender Based Sexual Violence: Prevention and Management.