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Create State Police Now- Delay Worsens Insecurity. By Olushola Omogbehin

Create State Police Now- Delay Worsens Insecurity


Abeni Aso-Oke
Abeni Aso-Oke

As the focal legitimacy of any government is measured by its ability to secure the lives and property of the governed, the vehement and protracted refusal of Nigerian government to create state police in spite of the various expression of support to same from different quarters of the society has contributed immensely to the continuous challenge of insecurity in Nigeria where innocent souls that are supposed to enjoy legitimate protection from government are being snuffed our each day. Like an untreated wound that provides legitimate abode for classes of flies, killings, maiming, kidnapping and other consequence of insecurity,  have suddenly become viable sources of livelihood and employment generation in Nigeria with different dimensions been added to it season upon season for the past one decade. The job of shedding another man’s blood for a living is now one of the most lucrative jobs in the country that people take pride doing and life goes on as if nothing is happening! Where are the elders of conscience of this land? In the word of that song writer, “why are we killing human beings as if we are killing animals” and our government seems to be at peace with it?

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In what began with Boko Haram many years ago, insurgency and armed banditry across some northern states and later festered into Fulani herdsmen and spread into the south, the business has now flourished into kidnapping for ransom where no Nigeria is safe anymore. With the current increase in the challenge of insecurity and spate of blood flow in the country, many would wonder if there are extant security agencies to protect lives and property! But yes is the news, there exists the Navy, Army, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NIA, DIA, Air Force, the Nigeria Police Force, the Department of State Security Services (DSS) and many local security outfits across Nigeria. With the outbreak of the abduction of Chibok Girls in 2014 to the Federal Government Girls Secondary School, Dapchi’ saga in Yobe State and much later to the unspeakable Kankara and Kagara episode, Nigerian have lived in palpable fear with the puzzle of who is next or which community is next for invasion without government being able to come to the rescue

asa result of the above, many communities have come out with different local security outfit to take care of their own people but no tangible result has been recorded in this direction because of the envious battle of legitimacy between them and the Nigeria police, particularly when the latter  which is in charge of protecting the day to day lives and property of Nigerians is seen to be deficient in function because of its centralization and the former seems to be doing it well at the local levels. So, the demand for state police was meant to take security closer to the people (the grassroots) so as to effectively fight crime.

Originated from the Greek word ‘Polis’ that is made up of non-ecclesiastical administration that is linked with safety in the area of health and the general public order of the state, state police is the absence of centralized police force contrary to the Federal Police Force established under section 214, 215 and 216 of the 1999 constitution (as amended). It is also the embrace of a sub-national police force that is closer to the people and provide effective policing as obtained in many democracies of the world where policing constitutes a local affairs such as in the United Kingdom, North America and some parts of Asia. It is sadly interesting that Nigeria is still one of the democracies of the world with centralized policing system where others operate sub-national police force. New York for instance parades what seems to be the best police force around the world with about 45 territorial Police Forces and three special Police Forces. The United States has about 17,985 police agencies which include local police departments, county sheriff’s offices and federal law enforcement agencies while in Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is the national police force that provides contract services to the federal, provincial, municipal and even international policing bodies. RCMP provides contract policing in eight provinces and three territories save Ontario and Quebec with different police force.

Going by the above, state policing can also be described as the police organized and maintained by a state as opposed to the police under the control of federal government. This body of police is usually distinctive to each state which is saddled with the responsibility of conducting law enforcement activities and criminal investigations across the state. The concept is in itself not new in Nigeria as consensus has grown over the years on its necessity but no action has been taken. Apart from everyday killings, which has now become part of our daily lives, another factor that necessitated the demand for state police is the fact that with 371,000 police officers, the Nigerian Police Force has been overwhelmed as many parts of the country suffer from permanent police absence thereby allowing hoodlums, terrorists, kidnappers, armed robbers and others to take over the villages, city streets and towns and raining havoc on innocent citizens.

Worst more, the deployment of military to the 36 states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory which was not part of its role of territorial integrity, the formation of four new combat divisions by the Nigerian Army to join the existing four and in recent times, the purchase of hardware by Nigerian Air Force such as Super Tucano warplanes and Hind attack helicopters, have not been able to halt blood flow with still fresh news of kidnapping and killing each day.

In addition to creation of state police aligning with the principle of federalism and devolution of powers which would enable the effective maintenance of law and order across each state, the fact remains that most crimes are committed at the local level thus corresponding local response. We must stop the deception of deploying policeman from the north east to south west and from Imo State for instance to Taraba State and think he will perform magic in an environment alien to him. Among the difficulties he will encounter include coping with the weather condition and the challenge of knowing the nook and cranny of the area so as to know criminal hideouts. Language barrier is another huge limitation that is capable of diminishing the effectiveness of his work.

Conversely, in the south western states for instance, every member of a community knows themselves, the occupation of each including the families that are known to be notorious and this also applies to many communities across different ethnic groups. In the event of any crime, they know where to direct their search engine and all the hideout in the area. Doing this in collaboration with state police in conjunction with other community security guards will automatically rid such an environment off crime. This was what played out in the arrest of the suspected killers of the two monarchs: Elesun of Esun Ekiti, Oba David Babatunde Ogunsakin and the Olumojo of Imojo-Ekiti, Oba Samuel Olusola and kidnapping of school children that recently took place in Ekiti State. This was why the late military Junta, General Sani Abacha posits that: “any terrorism that lasted for more than 24 hours, the government knows about it,” just because government is supposed to know its territorial integrity very well and take charge of it. Ironically, it is out of place for heterogeneous nation like Nigeria with her multi ethnic nature and religious diversity to continue to maintain unified police system and think police officers from Daura will be able to defend Okangha village more than the officers from Okangha itself. No outsider can defend your home like you.

The bond that exists between members of a community is so huge that they can go to any length to defend themselves in the time of crisis more than any outsider. As the case is in Nigeria that most communities are homogenous in nature and related by blood in most cases, this will help them to defend themselves against external invasion. So, when personnel of police force are indigenous member of their community of operation or neighbourhood community, they will easily form synergy with the various local security guards within the state and defend their communities against external invasion. This of course would serve as a panacea to the current federal police structure that is too detached from the people. It will also automatically reduce criminal activities within the local community, state and local government areas and allow governors to truly be in charge as the Chief Security Officer of their states.

Yes, it has been argued from another quarter that state police would be abused by state governors such as using it to have absolute control over their states and perpetrate their devious act against their opponent. But this is not good a reason not to do the needful as it can be overcome through proper legislative frameworks that will definitely cautions the governors. In addition, a central or federal regulatory body can be set up to spell out the modus of operation such as the qualification for employment and the general mode of operation.

There cannot be a better time for the creation of state police than now because Nigeria being the only country from the world’s 24 countries running federal system that has central police system is gradually drifting into the abyss. With 36 states and Federal Capital Territory, 774 local government areas, 923,768 square kilometer, over 300 ethnic groups and population of over 200 million, Nigeria certainly cannot operate federal police except we keep denying the truth.  Nigerians should therefore resume this campaign and lend their voices to this article and other well meaning Nigerians like the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, to urge our National Assembly to initiate the process of amending the 1999 constitution to enable each state to set up their police forces without delay so as to conform with other democracies of the world.

Before insecurity finishes us, government at the local and state levels including stakeholders, should see state police as the only solution to the spate of killings in Nigeria and mount pressure on government to implementing it. The recent suggestion of Mudashiru Obasa, calling for national consensus for the invocation of the doctrine of necessity and the setting up of bipartisan committee of stakeholders and expert to study the rules and format and how soon state police should begin in Nigeria should be considered. As what meets the eye also meets the nose, nobody is left out in the security situation of Nigeria, elected officers everywhere should endeavour to influence this process.

Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Conference of Speakers, politicians, human right organizations and other political bodies, religious and social cultural organizations should contribute to this matter by influencing government to do the needful. Women too are not left out in this campaign; they should influence their husbands (from the other room) in various positions of power to implement state police so as to put an end to the killings of innocent and future leaders of our great nation.

Dear President Tinubu, Colombian Government that formerly operates national police has now moved from national to local and state police because of mass protests against insecurity challenges by the citizens. You should therefore do well to listen to the voice of well meaning Nigerians calling for the decentralization of police including former President Obasanjo who was once against it but now see reason to support it because there is no gainsaying that those in support of it outnumbered those against it. What then are we waiting for?

Again, President Tinubu must be sincere in fighting this war against insecurity. This is because Nigeria occupies a definite territory that can be assessed and not spiritual territory that is not accessible to government. So, the inability of government to end the insecurity that occupies its territory automatically makes such government a complicit. Yes, it simply means such a government cannot protect its territorial integrity. Many of your predecessors have failed in this direction but you must not tow their path of failure. The idea of forest guard is very laudable so as to allow each state to comb their forest very well but decentralizing police would make them work together thereby bringing about effective security system at the state levels because insecurity does not stay in the forest alone anymore but with us at home.

By Olushola Omogbehin a public affairs analyst Writes from Abuja Nigeria omogbehino@yahoo.com 08069220040

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