As leaders and experts continue to propose how Nigeria can overcome the problem of insecurity, a former governor of Enugu State believes state police is not an option.
Senator Chimaroke Nnamani was of the opinion that adopting state police as a solution to the security challenges would be a wrong move because the factors that led to the abolition of regional police were still very much available.
“That is not the solution. State police will not work in Nigeria,” he said when he featured as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.
He added, “Remember that we had some form of state police – regional police, we had an ordinance of 1916 that formerly established regional police. There were factors that led to the abolition of state police.
“All those factors that led to the abolition of the regional police and formal entry into the central police have not changed. Nigeria is organic, it is one unit and what that means is that if the eye is having a problem, the brain could have a problem.”
An Unjust System?
The former governor, however, stated that having state police would only function effectively if it was made to be uniform in all 36 states of the federation.
He warned that should state police not be in uniform and standardised in all the state, it would amount to what he described as an inherent inequality.
According to the lawmaker, it is an imbalance to have state police in a state like Lagos where the poverty rate is very low compared to other states with a higher rate of poverty.
On the way forward, he suggested a conference of ethnic nationalities to help address the imbalance said to have been created by the constitution.
“Nigeria is a country of multi-ethnic African nationalities – those ethnic nationalities are in Nigeria on basis of inequality.
“The constitutions that have been derived from all these fora are inefficient, unequal, and unjust because those constitutions are results of political machinations of people who got the people to make the constitutions together,” said Nnamani.
He added, “What we need is a conference of ethnic nationalities on equal basis. Multi-ethnic nationalities have to conference and produce a system that is equitable, fair, and just.
“The system, as it is – the National Assembly, State assemblies…, are inherently unjust because of the way they were derived.”
The Lagos governor believes that once the police outfit is domesticated, it will be easier for officers to effectively tackle crimes in the state since they are already used to their different host communities.
He explained the Lagos State Government has been supporting the Nigeria Police Force in the state with the purchase of vehicles, provision of fuel and allowances which should be done by the Federal Government.
“The last time, we gave them 1,250 constabularies and we are paying their salaries. We paid for everything – uniform, food, etc. So we are actually incurring those expenses already.
“It is really not going to have any bigger bolt on our numbers because that is what we are doing. But it will help us to know that there are state police. What we will do is that somebody grows up in an area, you will understand that area.
“You will know where Okokomaiko is, you will understand the issues around Ojoko, you will know what the problem is in Lagos Island once it is domesticated,” he added.
The governor also spoke on transportation in the nation’s commercial capital, noting that his administration will not scrap the yellow buses popularly known as ‘danfo’, but remodel them to meet modern standards.
He stated further, “It will be unfair for us. These are important stakeholders. They served our citizens. They served Lagosians for a long time. It became the print of Lagos, the yellow buses.
“Let’s be very creative. Let’s see how we can remodel them without scrapping them out. We are collaborating with them. You know that our citizens now deserve newer models of cars.”
The governor said the state has signed an agreement with a local bus manufacturing company to replace buses burnt during the #EndSARS protest.
Former Governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu has called for the establishment of state police in the country as a major step to tackle the security challenges in the country.
Speaking with journalists in Kaduna on Friday, the former governor explained that state police will be better positioned to complement the efforts of the Federal Government in tackling criminality in communities instead of the present centralised policing system that seems to be overstretched.
In establishing state police, the former Niger governor stressed the need for a law that will not allow state Chief executives or politicians to hijack the security outfit for their selfish interests.
Aliyu, who was a former chairman of Northern Governors Forum also called on state governors to adopt intelligence-based strategies and establish strong collaboration with security agencies to tackle the menace of banditry, kidnapping and other related crimes that are currently ravaging many communities.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has decried the Friday abduction of over 300 girls from Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, Zamfara State.
According to a statement released by the former Presidential aspirant, the attack has now proven the necessity of states to have the powers to provide security of life and property in their domain.
“My heart is very heavy over the abduction of our young daughters from Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, Zamfara State,” Atiku said.
“I have had a phone conversation with the Governor of Zamfara, H.E Bello Matawalle, and I am informed that his government is doing everything in its power to secure the release of the abducted students.
“I have previously made recommendations on how our beloved nation can defeat enemies of the state and win the war on terror, and I stand by those suggestions.
“However, right now, all hands must be on deck to support the Zamfara state government in securing the release of those abducted.
“The Federal Government cannot expect the states to provide security of life and property in their domain, without giving them control over internal security. This is now a necessity.”
He went on to call on the lawmakers across the country to commence the process of ceding policing powers to the States.
“Thus, I call on the National and State Assemblies to begin the process of constitutional and legal reforms that will make this a reality,” he said. “The Legislature must take the lead, as it seems the Executive may not be able to provide the needed leadership on this issue.
“My heart goes out to the families of the abducted children, and my right hand of fellowship is extended to Governor Matawalle, to help in any way possible.”
Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu has kicked against the idea of states funding community policing in the country.
Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Wednesday, Akeredolu said the idea would not work.
He disclosed that his colleagues under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum will table the matter before President Muhammadu Buhari for his intervention.
“The burden of states will keep increasing. We will be the ones that will fund community police. Where is the money going to come from?
“Except we devolve more money to the states, how will the states fund community police? I don’t think it is going to work,” he said.
“I am sure that they are taking this thing too far (that) governors will have to pay. We have argued this. They started by saying it will be voluntary, they are not going to pay.
“They now shift the burden on the state governors again. Are you increasing their allocation? Which state governor will accept that?
“I don’t know if other states will pay but we will not pay. Let us be fair to ourselves, we are running a federal system. We will sit down and discuss this because we have a President that has a listening ear.”
“Whether the president approves it or not, it has to go to the national assembly and of course, if the NASS endorses it, it has to have the concurrence of at least two-thirds majority of the houses f assembly in the country”.
The rights activist went on to state that pending when state policing can be established, governors must share police powers with the president.
“There is a history behind state police when the 1979 constitution was being put together, it was felt by all members of the ruling class that we didn’t need state police owing to the experience of the first republic because of the abuse. But since then, the NPF which is the only one allowed by law has been grossly abused, so that argument is no longer there.
“What is therefore important is pending the establishment of state police, our governors have to share police powers with the president as stipulated by the constitution. We do not have a Federal Government Police Force, we have the Nigeria Police Force which have been administered, organized and supervised by the Nigeria Police Council.
“The council has the president as the chairman, IG, Chairman of the police service commission and the 36 state governors; this is a body which the 36 state governors constitute the majority, but that body never meets, they meet because the constitution stipulates it,” Falana said.
A lawyer and former member of the House of Representative, Mr West Idahosa, has backed several calls for the creation of state police, saying there shouldnt be any uniform requirement for its take-off.
He stated this on Monday during an appearance on Channels Televisions Politics Today.
In dealing with the Constitution, it is almost a given that everyone wants the state police. It means that it will be easy to get 24 states of the federation to endorse and rectify those proposals that the National Assembly will then pass by way of Constitutional amendment.
Then the big problem now will be funding whether many of these states will be in a better position to fund their police when they do create it. And then there should be no uniform requirement of time for the take-off of state police, he stated.
According to him, states that are ready for the establishment of state police can go ahead and do so.
He however stressed that other states that are not so financial stable or buoyant in meeting with the demands of state police should continue relying on the federal police in combating crime.
Idahosas comments come shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari received a report on the reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, in a statement today said President Buhari requested that the report be studied and a white paper produced within three months.
The report of the white paper committee will form the basis of the decisions of the government on the many recommendations, including the setting up of state and local government police made by the Ojukwu panel.
A presidential aspirant for the 2019 general elections under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Sule Lamido, has pledged to support the calls for the nation’s restructuring, especially with regards to the creation of state police.
Mr Lamido made the commitment on Wednesday at a meeting with the Deputy Governor of Benue State, Mr Benson Abounu at the Government House in Makurdi, in reaction to the security challenges the state has witnessed since the beginning of the year.
He said, “If you look at what has happened in the last two months, where the Federal government keeps using the federal might to emasculate the state, it means we need to ensure a system which will be able to give Nigerians a stronger hand to run their own affairs.
“Therefore, the police must be effective and to do that, we need to create state police.
“We need to look at the Constitution and see how the states can on their own fare better with the various packages to get their states properly developed”.
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu was a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast show, Sunrise Daily.
During his appearance, the lawmaker explains why the Senate is planning to amend the Nigerian Constitution to allow for state and community police across the nation and the right approaches to tackle the security challenges in the country.
We know where you stand on the issue of state police; can you give us a clearer sense of why your position is what it is?
Let me thank you for this opportunity. First of all, as somebody who is opportune to be in government, and probably can be described as one of the leaders of this country, I consider it my responsibility to pursue matters that will give protection to the people of Nigeria. As a member of government, I’m also of the view and I recognise that fact that under our constitution, the primary purpose of the government is the protection of lives and property and welfare of the people. And so, on account of this, we need to review from time to time our actions, especially as it regards the protection of lives and property and welfare of the people.
Presently, the country is challenged in many directions and one of the major areas of concern is the security sector. People are killed every day, some people are kidnapped, people are robbed, and we can’t continue that way; something needs to be done. It’s on account of this that we started looking at what options we have and one of them is the issue of decentralising our policing. You see, the society is created in such a way that they come with a whole lot of responsibilities and these responsibilities, they require some privileges, some powers in order to carry out those responsibilities.
One of the responsibilities, as I said, is the issue of protection of lives and properties, and that is why the constitution and, indeed, in the formation of the society, government is given enormous powers to have control of instruments of cohesion. And so, what has happened now is that the criminal elements have overwhelmed the government and so, government cannot be able to perform that responsibility of protecting lives and property because what has happened is that that instrument of cohesion is not structured in such a way as to be able to contain the rise in criminality. So, we need to look at it again and see if there is anything we are doing wrong and do it correctly, and that’s basically the platform.
What are your thoughts about the argument that the police can only operate with what they have at the moment, in terms of resources and funding?
Well regrettably, the issue is not funding. If you bring the whole money in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and give to the police, nothing will change, certainly nothing. If you do that also with the Army, nothing will change. The problem is structure, not the funding. It’s just like now where we have primary schools scattered all over the country and then you are now telling the Federal Minister of Education to help primary school teachers – no matter how much you give to them, there are many schools that will be forgotten; there are many schools that won’t have teachers, so that’s the problem. So, we are applying the wrong solution to problems that are clearly within our reach to resolve.
If the funds are not enough to recruit high-level graduates into the police force and to purchase the necessary equipment, including vehicles, can we still say the problem is just structure when all of these things are clearly absent to the current context?
What they say is just one part of the argument; the point I’m making is yes, we need all those but if you provide them, the problem will still be there. In Abuja, for instance, we have all kinds of equipment the police are using, all kinds of weapon but yet, they killed seven policemen yesterday (July 3, 2018). I’m not talking about citizens who die on daily basis and nobody accounts for them, I’m talking about policemen who are trained; that’s the issue because the criminal elements have overwhelmed the security sector. That’s the issue I’m making, we need to do something and that is why we are talking about decentralising the police.
What did you have in mind when you said that the National Assembly is pursuing the creation of state police?
There have been a lot of fears and misconceptions about the issue of state police and, of course, it’s well-founded but you see, we have an attitude of running away from our problems in this country, instead of challenging those problems, confronting them. I think the best thing for us is to confront it, ask ourselves a couple of questions – what are those concerns, what are those fears, how do we address them, who are the people who are worried, can we dialogue with them so that they can understand issues? and again is it necessary, will it solve the problems, if it can solve the problems why don’t we deal with it and deal with those fears?
Let me just take you back in history, you know the first set of police we had in this country were native authority police; not the national police. The ordinance of 1916 established the native authority police in Nigeria and it was further enhanced in 1924. Ways back in 1936, the nationwide police were established and they all existed side by side until 1966 and that that is why in those days, if you are selling groundnut you can put your groundnut in front of your house and go to the farm. Somebody will just come, leave the money there and take the groundnut they wanted, you don’t need to fence your house, you don’t need to have a policeman following you around because there are policemen everywhere around the streets; the next neighbour to you may be a policeman, that was all the way it was structured.
And so, as we approach independence, our founding fathers – Zik (Nnamdi Azikiwe), (Obafemi) Awolowo, and Tafawa Balewa, had agreed that ‘for us to live peacefully in a multi-racial large country, we need to adopt a Federal system of government’, and federal system of government comes with certain characteristics and one of these characteristics is that people from different places do things in different ways and are well-coordinated at the national level, and security is one aspect of it and so, we started living that way.
Unfortunately, at the time they were laying the foundation for federalism, especially as it regards that security sector, they did not put in place the proper checks and balances. Like every other things, those policies at the sub-regional level were being abused, especially in 1963 and 1964 elections. When the Army came in 1966, it’s one of the major concerns that look, we cannot continue this talk of national police because it was being abused by politicians at that level. They use it to chase their political opponents. Remember I said we run away from our problems; what they (the military government) did was to set up a committee to look at the gamut of the issues around the sub-national police. By the time the report came out, (Johnson) Aguiyi-Ironsi had been assassinated.
Remember, part of the issues of concern people had about Ironsi government was that he was trying to unify the country into a unity system of government, thereby running away from the system we all agreed. But when that report came out on the issue of policing, the (Yakubu) Gowon government that was accusing Ironsi of a unity system of government adopted the report of that committee which is saying we should do away with all sub-national police and have a centralised police, that is the beginning of our problem. Thereafter, we started having robbery, kidnapping, renowned terrorism, and it’s going to get worse if we don’t do the correct thing.
The point I’m making is that if we are running a federal structure, as I said that it comes with some characteristics, as regards the security sector, what we need to do is to decentralise the police in such a way that there will be a policeman at every point, every corner. If you go to Europe, especially in Germany, one out of the five persons you meet on the street is a security person; that doesn’t happen here. So, if you have 300,000 policemen to take care of the population of Nigeria which is at least 200 million, how is that going to work?
See, I’m looking at just the protection of lives and property and not investigation and detection of crime which is another case, because if you are a policeman and you are assigned to investigate a case in Enugu, for instance, and two months after you are transferred to Kano, do you know what happens to that matter? It’s gone. Or you send somebody from Cross River to Sokoto on an assignment – he doesn’t know how to speak the language, he doesn’t know the culture; nothing and not even the road, these are the issues.
The Senate plans to amend the Constitution to allow for the creation of state and community police.
Senate President Bukola Saraki disclosed the plan on Tuesday, three days after he faulted the country’s security infrastructure and called for the removal of incapable security chiefs.
“Today, my colleagues and I in the eighth Senate resolved to begin the process of amending the Constitution to allow for the creation of State and Community Police. This is following our debate on solutions to the killings across the country.”
Today, my colleagues and I in the 8th Senate resolved to begin the process of amending the Constitution to allow for the creation of State and Community Police. This is following our debate on solutions to the killings across the country. https://t.co/KHaFovl52Gpic.twitter.com/M7KJybDL27
The plan by the Senate comes after years of calls for the creation of state police and debate over the issue.
Recent killings in several states have revived the debate over state police with several governors lamenting, over time, about their helplessness to provide security for residents of the state.
In reaction to the killings, the Senate had previously called for more decisive action with some Senators demanding the removal of the service chiefs.
The decision of the Senate to amend the Constitution in favour of state and community police followed a debate on the killings across the country and in Plateau State – after a Point of Order raised by former Plateau Governor, Senator Jonah Jang.
In his comments, the Senate President condemned the killings once again and said it was necessary for the Senate to condemn it and play its role in ensuring the security of lives and property.
“We have talked about the fact that whether these killings were initial acts of aggression or reprisal attacks, it is clear that either way, it is totally unacceptable and we must condemn it in all totality,” he said.
“Secondly, these are acts of criminality and we should not encourage any other colouration to it, be it religious or otherwise. This is criminality. And as such, we have a role to ensure that we must address this criminality to see how we can fight it.
“We have spoken on many platforms and made suggestions to the Executive on the fact that there is a need for an urgent review of the security architecture of the nation.”
Having made suggestions and listened to security agencies over the killings, Saraki said it was important for the lawmakers to do their own part.
“We as the Senate must come up with our own actions. We do not need to flog the issue. We have told the Executive what to do. We have told them privately and we have told them publicly. However, on our own part, we must decide on what we need to do.”
Consequently, the Senate resolved to:
Condemn the terrorist attacks, mass killings and displacement of the people and occupation of their central homes and farmlands;
Urge the Executive to overhaul the security architecture of the country and to put in place a better security action plan and decisively tackle violent terror attacks threatening the continuous existence of communities in the North Central geopolitical zone and indeed Nigeria;
Urge the Executive arm of the government to undertake the rehabilitation of displaced persons and reconstruction of communities in Plateau North, South and Central Senatorial Districts so they can return to their homes and farmlands;
Urge the Executive arm of government to apprehend and persecute all perpetrators and sponsors of violence, no matter how highly placed they are;
Direct its constitutional review committee to put in machinery to amend the constitution to allow for the creation of State Police;
Fast-track the passage of the Peace and Reconciliation Bill;
Call on security agencies to stop involving themselves in the politics of the nation; and
Mandate that the Peace and Reconciliation Bill, Police Reform Bill be passed within the next two weeks and the Constitution Review Committee within the next two weeks should bring forward the amendment for State and Community Policing.
The Nigerian Governors Forum on Monday backed the calls for the creation of state police.
Chairman of the Governors Forum and Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, told journalists in Abuja that the governors are in support of the creation of state police.
Mr Yari’s comments come just days after Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for the creation of state police.
Professor Osinbajo had advocated the introduction of state police on Thursday at the start of a two-day security summit organised by the Senate in the nation’s capital.
According to the VP, the state policing system is the way to go because having a centralised system – as is currently practiced, cannot effectively secure the nation.
Despite calling for the creation of state police, Professor Osinbajo said there was the need to strengthen the Nigeria Police Force and proposed that the current number of police in the country be tripled.
In expressing support for state police, Governor Yari, however, suggested it should be introduced in phases due to the cost implication.
Bwala, however, stressed that the military has a responsibility to solve the imminent and immediate problem while state policing remains “the only way out” and the long-term solution to the crisis.
He noted that if the government fails to live up to its fundamental task to ensure the safety of lives and property of Nigeria, its legitimacy becomes questioned.
The lawyer stressed further that a governor is incapacitated in managing the security situation of his state without the full control over the police.
He applauded the government for admitting the need for Nigeria to have the creation of state police and called on the legislature to act promptly.
The legal practitioner said the law follows the evolution trend of the people, pointing out a situation when the British Parliament passed the laws restraining the use of guns and knives when crimes link to the weapons became prevalent in the country.
The Federal Government has been seriously criticised in the recent times following the attack by suspected herdsmen which led to the death of several people in Benue and other states.
But President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the speculations that he has done nothing to address the crisis.