Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC-Nigeria) has sensitized the commanders and members of the Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area (ONELGA) Security, Planning, and Advisory Committee (OSPAC) and facilitated the reformation of the non-state security outfit in Rivers State. 

The workshop, held at the Aldgage Congress Hotel in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, November 28, was organized by YEAC-Nigeria in collaboration with Spaces for Change, and funding support from Funds for Global Human Rights brought together OSPAC commanders and members from across the 23 local government areas of Rivers State where the non-state security outfit operates and contributes to community policing.

The representative of Spaces for Change and Funds for Global Human Rights to the event, Jacinta Mbamara in her goodwill message and declaration of the workshop open, said it is important to sensitize, develop, and build the capacity of non-state security outfits that wield overwhelming powers in their operations, overlapping the role of the police without a concrete legal framework. Mrs. Jacinta further said the non-state actor security outfits, including OSPAC and those that exit in other parts of the country, as examined in the Security Playbook report of the Action Group on Free Civic Space (AGFCS) published in 2021, contribute to addressing security issues in communities, but not without the violations of human rights, including killings, maiming, and other forms of abuses. Thus, a workshop of this nature is important to sensitize them and have a self-regulation framework in place to guide their operations, increase cooperation within their communities of operation, and free the civic space for citizens to fully exercise and enjoy their fundamental human rights in society.

In his keynote address, presentation, and sensitization at the workshop, the Executive Director of YEAC-Nigeria, Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface, welcomed the OSPAC commanders and members to the workshop and said the journey to the event started with findings about OSPAC as captured in the Security Playbook of the AGFCS led by Spaces for Change and continued with the foundation-laying activities of a courtesy visit to the Rivers State OSPAC General Commander on October 31 and the signing of a MoU for partnership to formalize their working relationship on November 18, 2023.


Mr. Fyneface said workshop is part of a project titled “PROMOTING SELF-REGULATION FOR NON-STATE POLICING IN THE SOUTH-SOUTH REGION.” was aimed at enabling YEAC-Nigeria, in partnership with OSPAC, to “discuss and understand the specific ways in which OSPAC activities potentially impede civic participation or otherwise; propose methods for OSPAC to operate without violating human rights; identify an overarching or all-embracing operational model for OSPAC in Rivers State; identify and suggest avenues for reform for improved non-state actor community policing; document deliberations and best practices, which will feed into updating or upgrading the operating manual of OSPAC – (self-regulation) and develop a self-regulation template for OSPAC that will focus on best practices for operations within communities if none exists”

The Advocacy Centre’s Executive Director further said the outcome of the workshop would, among others, enable YEAC-Nigeria and partners to “support OSPAC to develop a non-state policing self-regulation mechanism or improve on an existing one (if any) and strengthen ties between OSPAC and local communities in Rivers State, resulting in improved respect for human rights recognition and coordination among its members across the state.”

On his part, the Rivers State General Commander of OSPAC, Mr. Felix Nwobakata represented at the workshop by Mr. Emeka thanked YEAC-Nigeria and partners for the workshop and partnership to support them and improve their operations in communities across Rivers State. Mr. Emeka said OSPAC was formed in 2014 in ONELGA, when security issues as a result of the activities of cult gangs and armed robbers were getting out of hand and overwhelming the police. He said OSPAC has since been operating in communities to compliment the efforts of the police and other security operatives to address security threats. Emeka further said that between 2014 and 2023, OSPAC has expanded and extended its operations to other parts of Rivers State and beyond, including Imo, Anambra, and Lagos State (Alaba International Market), among others. He said OSPAC is a voluntary service to improve security in communities and that they live on a stipend paid in appreciation and support of the operations, thus calling for support, including the donation of operational vehicles, motorcycles and funding, among other materials needed, to enhance its operations in Rivers State. He also called for OSPAC to be made a state-wide support security outfit placed on the salary structure to support the police in fighting crime in communities.

In his contribution, CHIEF MAGNUS EDOH, Paramount Ruler, Dee-Ewee, Community, Khana LGA of Rivers State, who represented the traditional institutions in whose domains and communities OSPAC operates, said the non-state security outfit should work closely with the leaders and traditional rulers in the communities where they operate. He also said the existence of OSPAC in a community should not be the reason why youth leaders and groups should no longer exist. Chief Edoh further said that when there is cooperation and mutual understanding between OSPAC and the traditional institutions in communities, it would be easier to seek logistic assistance from the paramount rulers and called on government-recognized traditional rulers who receive monthly allowance from the government to administer their domains to use part of the money to support efforts that will improve security in their communities.

Other members of OSPAC present, as well as representative from Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni local government area (ONELGA), Mr. Confidence Ikwegbu also contributed to the discussion, thanked the organizers for putting the workshop together for them, and requested more engagements and sensitizations from time to time.



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