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By Bilkisu Aminu, Abuja

CLEEN Foundation in its mission to promote public safety, and security of individuals has organized a 2-day capacity building workshop for officers of the Nigeria police force on the 10th and 11th of November 2021 at Bolton White Hotel, area 11, Garki Abuja, in partnership with the American Academy for the Advance of Science (AAAS).

Speaking at the workshop, the Acting Executive Director, CLEEN Foundation,  Mrs. Ruth Olofin stated that the training is for nominated officers of the Nigerian Police Force on exploring the use of geospatial technology in resolving the crisis of missing persons in Nigeria.

Mrs. Ruth Olofin in her opening remarks stated that, Globally, conflict situations have over the years continued to worsen with severe implications for peace and severity of human lives. Several persons are killed on a daily basis, maimed, abducted, displaced from their ancestral homes with means of livelihood and properties destroyed while several others simply disappear.

“Enforced disappearances have been frequently used as a strategy to spread terror within society especially in conflict situations. This strategy promotes insecurity which affects not just the families and close relatives of the disappeared, but also their communities and the societies as a whole.
On the 21st of December 2010, by its resolution 65/209, the UN General Assembly expressed deep concern about the increase in enforced or involuntary disappearances in various regions of the world, especially through arrest, detention, and abduction. In a historic attempt to bring global attention to the plight of the disappeared, it adopted the international convention for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearances.

“In Nigeria, since October 2020, the spate of abductions, kidnappings, enforced disappearances by security agencies and armed non-state actors increased. Also, there is no doubt that insurgencies have exacerbated this problem. Unfortunately, families and loved ones of the missing persons bear the brunt of the emotional and psychological trauma of not knowing where their loved one is,  thereby resorting to self-help strategies and the financial burden of funding arrangements to look for their missing loved ones.
Nigeria has a plethora of current cases of missing persons that exceed all the other countries on the African continent.

“A recent release by the international committee of red cross confirmed that in the last 10years there have been over 23,000 reported cases of missing persons, which makes it the highest number in Africa. The most public of the cases happened in 2014 when 276 girls were abducted from their school in Chibok, Nigeria”.

According to her, the Nigerian government has adopted different techniques and strategies, such as on the ground searches involving multi-sectoral coordination, the tracing of the mobile lines and digital footprints in collaboration with telecommunication providers in addressing crisis related to missing persons in the country and some cases, the conduct of physical searches to locate missing persons by security agencies.

“However, despite these efforts, and because investigators often lack access to locations where violence and abduction occur. To further address the challenge, they are increasingly turning mission light and other digital imagery systems such as geospatial sate light imagery, mobile phone photos, videos, and text messaging warning signals. These new development present great opportunities for addressing the challenge of missing persons and also security issues in Nigeria”.

Speaking Further Mrs. Ruth Olofin noted that the purpose of the workshop is to train officers of the Nigerian police force on the use of Geospatial technology to search for missing persons in Nigeria. The Police officers selected for this training will in turn train other officers on the use of geospatial technology to search for missing persons.

“It is on this basis that this capacity for the Nigerian Police is aimed at exploring how geospatial technologies have been or could be used to trace missing persons in Nigeria due to the mandate of the Nigerian Police Force as the lead agency on internal security in Nigeria. The sessions will focus on geospatial technologies, remote sensing and photogrammetry, GIS analysis, and the use of geospatial evidence in human rights fact-finding. Overall, the training will explore geospatial technology and its strategies for identification and analysis that may prove useful to the Nigerian context”.

Furthermore, at the capacity building workshop, The Commissioner of Police S.k Akande represented by the IG of Police Alkali, and the Deputy IG in charge of ICT force headquarter appreciated CLEEN Foundation and its partners for supporting the Police in combating crimes in Nigeria. He stated that the Nigeria Police Force has enough human resources and with the support of the CLEEN Foundation and its partners in training the Police on the use of geospatial technologies to search for missing persons, they are sure of success. He, therefore, pleaded with them not to relent and to continue to provide help and support in any way they could, assuring the CLEEN Foundation of their readiness to collaborate with them.

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