NGF chairman and Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi
By Chuks Okocha
The gulf widened among governors on the call for state police Sunday as two Southern governors took on their Northern counterparts who have opposed the decentralisation of the Nigerian Police Force.
The two governors, who craved anonymity, told THISDAY that the Northern governors’ decision was a betrayal of the position of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) that is in the vanguard for the creation of state police to be included as one of the clauses in the amendment to the 1999 Constitution.
According to them, it was based on this decision that the NGF proposed the inclusion of state police and review of the revenue sharing formula, among other issues, as part of the amendments it had submitted to the National Assembly Constitution Review Committee.
The NGF, at a meeting in Abuja on June 25, had called for the establishment of state police. The governors in a communiqué signed by the NGF chairman and Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi, had said that besides the setting up of state police as a strategy for combating insecurity in the country, the Federal Government should also establish a special intervention fund for state governments, especially those under terrorist attacks.
But the Northern governors, after a five-hour meeting in Abuja that ended late on Thursday, disagreed with the NGF on decentralising the police force.
The Northern governors, in a communiqué signed by their chairman and Governor of Niger State, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, said the forum was opposed to the creation of state police.
The forum, however, urged the Federal Government to embark on police reforms that will assist the states in the control and management of police affairs in their domains.
It advocated amending Section 215 of the 1999 Constitution to empower commissioners of police in states to fall under the authority of the governors of the states.
However, one of the governors from the South-west, said: “I thought by submitting our position under the aegis of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum that the matter was foreclosed.
“Most of us are surprised with the latest development of our colleagues from the North opting out. This is democracy, but it has great implication for the forum’s unity.
“Whenever we meet, this matter will be thrashed out, because as I said, it has great implications for the continued existence of the governors’ forum.”
Another governor from the South-east simply said: “We agreed, and it was based on the unanimity of our decision that our recommendations were sent to the National Assembly. What it means is that there is no unity in what we are doing.”
Both governors said although the NGF could not stop the National Assembly from rejecting the Northern governors’ position, it did not mean the call for state police would not be considered by the committee, adding that the demand for state police would still be treated on its merit and the decision of the majority would prevail in the end.
The South-west governor added that the demand for state police was made because of the heightened insecurity in the country, especially owing to the activities of Boko Haram that has unleashed terror on the North.
“We discussed it as a forum, took a position and issued a communiqué and no governor at the meeting raised any contrary view. We were more than 30 governors at the meeting where this decision was taken,” the governor said.