President Goodluck Jonathan
Against the backdrop of the preponderance of insecurity in the country, the Forum of Retired Inspectors-General of Police in the country, met behind closed doors with President Goodluck Jonathan.
Noting that the functions hitherto the exclusive preserve of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) have been taken over by other ancillary bodies established over the years, the forum urged the federal government to consider implementing the salient points of the Steven Oronsaye report which had recommended the merger of some of such outfits that are vested with police functions.
According to the forum, both the current spate of insecurity across the country and the usurpation of some powers of the police by other organisations are "not in the best interest of security management of this country."
Regretting what they termed “the cannibalisation of police functions by other organisations”, the four former police bosses, Alhaji Muhammadu Gambo, Alhaji Ibrahim Coomasie, Mr. Sunday Ehindero and Sir Mike Okiro, presented a 13-page security briefs to the President on how to tackle insecurity in the country.
The address was also signed by other former police bosses, Alhaji Muhammadu Yusuf, Mr. Sunday Adewusi, Alhaji Aliyu Atta, Mr. Musiliu Smith and Mr. Tafa Balogun, who were not at the meeting.
Led to the State House by the incumbent IGP, Mr. Muhammed Abubakar, they told Correspondents after the meeting, that the forum while appreciating the efforts of the government in stemming the tide of the current security challenges also expressed concern that more needs to be done.
Alhaji Muhammadu Gambo, who spoke on their behalf said: “It is our humble submission that experience has shown that in tackling internal security problems, there is need to adopt a holistic overview of strategies and organisations responsible for the implementation of internal security management.
“Consequently, the Nigeria Police Force which is the primary organ charged with the responsibility of the maintenance of internal security and therefore the first line of defence need to be well positioned to discharge efficiently its constitutional and statutory duties.
“Unfortunately, the Force has not been properly positioned to meet these challenges.”
Gambo drew the President’s attention to issues of fiscal autonomy of the police, provision of funds, relationship between the police, Ministry of Police Affairs and Police Service Commission, difficulties in accessing retirement benefits/mismanagement of the pension scheme, provision of office and barracks accommodation, need to reinvigorate the intelligence/investigative arm of the police force as well as the agitation for state police.
He dismissed the current clamour for state police by certain segments of the society, saying it is anti-democratic. “We are of the opinion that the clamour (for state police) is not in the interest of this nascent democracy and would be a panacea for a state of anomie,’ he noted.
“It will be recalled that the military attempted introducing the localisation of police officers in their states of origin and the exercise boomeranged and failed.
“The establishment of state police will bring us back to the days of ethnic militias where the OPC, MASSOB, Egbesu, ECOMOG and Yankalare held sway.
“Even in developed democracies such as the United Kingdom and the United States of America that are operating State and local police, they are now tilting towards a more centralised national police in dealing with contemporary challenges like terrorism and cybercrime.
“Furthermore, putting into consideration the political climate operating in our country, a state police would only be a tool in the hands of political leaders at state levels.”
He recalled that historically the country’s experiment with state police did not augur well for it because “at that time, people from other parts of the country cannot freely go to other parts of the country for trade; political campaigns or any other thing.
“The local police forces were bastardised, they were used for sorts of heinous things.
“People have forgotten where we came from: when Zik cannot go to Katsina or Maiduguri to campaign, when Ahmadu Bello could not go to Enugu or Lagos, when Akintola, Awolowo could not go to some parts of the country.
“In order to put all these things behind us, our founding fathers in the constitution entrenched one federal force that will be responsible for the rights given to the citizens of this country wherever they happen to be.
“We oppose fractionalisation of the police and the enforcement of laws of this country. Wherever you happen to live in Nigeria, there should be a Federal Agency that will guarantee your rights, indigene or no indigene. This is very basic.
“I blame the display of ignorance of our youths because they never came from that time and therefore they are totally ignorant of the implications of what had happened. If you want to disintegrate Nigeria, then encourage this sort of thing, Nigeria will be gone.”