Governor Abiola Ajimobi
Tunde Sanni in Ibadan
Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State tuesday justified the call for the establishment of state police, saying that the federal-controlled force has failed woefully in the maintenance of internal security in the country.
Indeed, the governor called for amendment to the 1999 Constitution to accommodate the establishment of state police as a way out of the security challenges currently confronting Nigeria.
Ajimobi made these submissions at a lecture entitled: “The Police Issue in Federal Nigeria: A Shoewearer’s Perspective,’’ which he delivered at the Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan.
He said the agitation for state police had become apt in view of the crime and criminal activities which had enveloped the country in recent times.
“It is suffice to say the Boko Haram uprising in the North, the kidnappings and mob killings in the South-east and South-south and ceaseless armed robberies and assassinations in the South-west have raised questions on the ability of the police to secure Nigeria.
He lamented that the current command structure of the police had hampered state governors to truly serve as Chief Security Officers of their respective states.
“They merely wear that title like an honorary chieftaincy title. Yet, the governors, who have been deemed fit to be entrusted with securing their states by the electorate, deserve to have the powers and facilities to meet the expectations of the electorate on the security of lives and property,” he said.
The governor also noted that the police had been subject to abuse by past federal administrations for political ends.
He cited the arrest and deportation of Alhaji Abdulrahman Shugaba, the Majority and Great Nigeria Peoples Party (GNPP) Leader of the Borno State House of Assembly by the National Party of Nigeria-led Federal Government in the Second Republic.
The police, he said, also featured prominently in the manipulations of the 1983 elections in Oyo, Ondo and Imo States.
“Since 1999, the police had been used by the PDP government of former President Obasanjo to harass and intimidate governors who either belonged to different political parties or were members of the same PDP but not on good terms with the former president.
“The instances included the abduction of Governor Ngige in Anambra State. It also included the police-assisted impeachment of many governors, including Governor Rashidi Ladoja of Oyo State. Instances of police culpability in the rigging of elections against opposition parties have also been rampant,’’ he posited.
According to the governor, one of the major consequences of the abuse of police power and inadequacy of the force was the emergence of multiple groups and public organisations ranging from neighbourhood vigilante groups to organised pseudo-security outfits like Bakasi Boys and O’odua People’s Congress (OPC) among others.