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State Police Way To Go, Say Governors, Legal Giants, Others

Police

Governors across party lines and legal giants are united in the call for the establishment of state police.

The country has been reeling under serious terrorism, banditry and kidnapping.

In a renewed wave of crime, kidnappers have killed their victims, while hundreds of millions in ransoms have been paid.

For state police to be created, an amendment to the constitution will be required.

An attempt to include state police in the Ninth National Assembly did not sail through.

PDP governors back calls for state police

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ Forum yesterday expressed full support for the creation of state police.

Bauchi State Governor and Chairman of the forum, Bala Mohammed, said this when he led his colleagues on a visit to Governor Caleb Mutfwang of Plateau.

Mohammed, who decried the rising security challenges across the country, said state police would complement the efforts of the conventional security agencies.

According to him, state police will provide an opportunity for governors to handle the security situation in their respective states with ease.

”The ratio of police to the citizens is very low and the governors know the peculiarity of their states and how to tackle this challenge. So, we have been advocating this.

“There is a need for the decentralisation of the security apparatus so that we can deliver good governance by having state police.

“Again, it will allow us to engage the structure of the security agencies, training our youths and making sure the rules of engagement are not abused and there are no extrajudicial killings.

“We will work in tandem with the established best global practice than being forced to be using vigilante and even at that we are working with the security agencies, but we are still being accused of pursuing our interest.

“We can see what is happening in Zamfara and the Amotekun in the South-West where citizens are sleeping with their eyes closed,” he said

Legal giants have also backed the call.

Former Body of Benchers Chairman Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) believes the current centralised policing structure is antithetical to federalism.

Delivering the 40th convocation lecture of the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, he said: “How do we have a Federal Government with federating states where the governors do not have any jurisdiction or power over the security systems or apparati in their state; yet a governor is casually labelled as the Chief Security Officer of his state!

“He does not appoint the Commissioner of Police in his state. All he hears is the deployment of a Commissioner of Police to his state. He has no say, even in the deployment.

“We should stop deceiving ourselves by sending police commissioners from any state in the North to the Southwest or the Southeast or vice versa when such police commissioners have never been to such places before or have any idea or knowledge of the language or dialect of the people.”

He called for restructuring and devolution of more powers to the states.

A former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) president, Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), at a briefing in Lagos, called for “massive devolution of powers from the Federal to state governments.”

A law teacher, Wahab Shittu (SAN), said federalism without state policing is a contradiction in terms

“State policing will ensure effective and efficient policing. Law enforcement agents will easily identify by the geography of the environment the hideout and identities of criminals.

“By way of analogy, drafting personnel from Anambra to police Zamfara, an unfamiliar environment is a disaster.

“First such persons are unfamiliar with the language, culture and criminal antecedents of the area.

“On the contrary state police implies indigenes of every state can effectively police the area because they know the terrain.”

Former National Security Adviser, General Aliyu Gusau, speaking at the passing-out ceremony of the new Community Protection Guard by Zamfara State Government, advocated state police.

He said: “With an estimated population of 223.8 million and a diverse terrain covering 923,768 square kilometres, Nigeria is a difficult country to secure.

“Therefore, expecting a single Police Force to patrol and control such a large and complex nation effectively is a very tall order indeed.

“The time has come for us to rethink this strategy in the best interest of our country.”

Funding concerns

 Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, thinks that most states will not be able to fund the police.

He argued in an interview on a national television that states should rather collaborate with the Federal Government to strengthen the existing arrangement.

Uzodinnma, who chairs the Southeast Governors Forum and the Progressives Governors Forum, said: “Security is very expensive, and I can’t see any subnational government today that can fund, completely, the cost of providing adequate security.

“When people say governors are handicapped, I don’t know what they are talking about.

“Yes, we need the support of the Federal Government; we need to articulate properly, working in synergy with federal security agencies as a subnational government to find how we can create a working relationship that will allow us to be on the same page to be able to fight crime in the country.”

But, Oyo Governor Seyi Makinde said states that can fund their police should be allowed to do so.

Dismissing fears of abuse, he said when he hosted Southwest Speakers last week: “A lot of people may not know that before we launched Amotekun, some of us went to the Federal Government.

“We asked to be allowed to set up state police for our various states but we did not get that approval during the time of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“I disagreed at that particular time and still disagree to date that the states are not in the position to maintain state police.

“I have never seen where the Federal Government went to a particular state and gave the police everything they needed. So, the states are already maintaining the police.

“Give us the responsibility first and see if certain states will be able to maintain it or not. But since we could not get state police, we settled for Amotekun.”

A lawyer and former Director General of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms, Dr Joe Abah, believes fear of abuse should not be a basis to jettisoning state police.

He stated in a post on X: “When we mostly agree that something is not working (like unitary policing), we should not be afraid to try something new (like state police) for fear of abuse, particularly as the current system is similarly being abused. Instead, let’s think of how to constrain any future abuse.”

A former NBA Vice President, Monday Ubani, stressed that most governors are already heavily part-funding the police, yet they are not subject to their command and control.

To prevent abuse, he said there can be elaborate provisions in the law.

He said the enabling law must provide that the arrangement is optional as there may be states that want to remain under the central policing system.

Ubani said the law must also provide that only states that want state police and have the capacity should be allowed to create one.

He also said what constitutes an abuse of state police by any governor state agent should be properly spelt out.

According to Ubani, one of the measures that can be taken is that when a governor oversteps his bounds in the use of the state police, the Federal police should be called in immediately to intervene and override the autocratic powers of the governor.(Nation)

Source: Hardcore News

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