‘Some Govs Act Like Emperors’, Joe Abah Calls For Checks To Prevent Abuse Of State Police

He said some governors are already abusing power but that is no reason for not supporting the creation of state police.

A file photo showing police operatives on duty.


As talks for the creation of state police gain momentum to curtail the menacing trend of kidnapping, banditry, terrorism and sundry security challenges ubiquitous in the country, social commentator Joe Abah says there should be checks and balancing to prevent the abuse of state police by some governors whom he described as “emperors”.

“We have a system where governors are virtually emperors,” the former Director General of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms said on Inside Sources with Laolu Akande aired on Channels Television on Friday.

He said some governors are already abusing power but that is no reason for not supporting the creation of state police.

“When some people say: ‘State police will never work, governors will abuse it’. Are they not abusing office now? Rather than say it won’t work, let’s put in safeguards. How is it going to be funded? Let’s our heads together and think through a solution. How do we stop it from becoming a political weapon during elections? Let’s think through that and put it in the right kind of clauses,” Abah stated.

He, however, said a governor who will do well will do despite the limitations of resources. He cited Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in Lagos State; Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State; ex-Governor of Ebonyi State who is now the Minister of Works, Dave Umahi, as some governors who have done well so far.

Already, there are state-owned security outfits in about 23 states like the Civilian Joint Task Force in Borno State, the Amotekun Corps in the South-West geopolitical zone, Ebube Agu in the South-East, Benue Guards in the North Central State, Community Protection Guards in Zamfara, Community Watch Corps in Katsina, the Neighbourhood Watch in Plateau, state-backed vigilante outfits in Niger and Bauchi, amongst others.

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However, these outfits have been handicapped in their operations due to a number of factors including lack of license to bear assault rifles and superior weapons to confront deadly insurgents and criminals but governors are upbeat that with a constitutional backing, these outfits will live up to their full potential.

To this end, President Bola Tinubu and governors of the 36 states mid-February, agreed on state police as a method to curb the escalating security challenges in the country. About a month later, 16 governors submitted their reports to the National Economic Council, expressing their support for the creation of state police and the amendment of the 1999 Constitution to allow for same. The decision of the remaining 20 governors are still being expected.

State police has faced some criticisms, even as supports but Abah said it is the right way to go considering the enormous security challenges in the country at the moment. He, however, argued that checks and balances are necessary to prevent any abuse by governors.

‘NBA Should Produce Draft Constitution’

The social commentator said a new constitution will not happen if Nigerians wait on the National Assembly, suggesting that there is nothing wrong if the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) comes up with a draft constitution to be open for debates. “I see no reason why the NBA cannot draw up a draft constitution and throw it up in the space for deliberation,” he said.

Abah also said the country’s constitution should be totally overhauled every 20 years to meet up with contemporary realities, lamenting that despite all the inadequacies of the 1999 Constitution, no President in the last 25 years has come up with an executive bill for its amendment

“I’m beginning to believe that we’ve design a system that makes sure we don’t use power for developmental purposes,” he said.

According to him, it doesn’t feel like we are on the right path to progress as a country but based on indices, growth is inevitable with the right spark”, the right leadership and management of the nation’s resources.

He ruled out any return of the military or a “benevolent dictator”, saying that the military set the country’s developmental gains back because “the worst kind of democracy is better than the best kind of military rule”.

He, however, said a switch from the presidential system to the parliamentary system will do Nigeria a lot of good as this will make the executive and legislature which have the power of appropriation more accountable to the people. “I don’t think the presidential system is better than the parliamentary system of government,” he said.