The Nigeria Police, as presently constituted, has failed the nation. Its’ time for state police
While asking the federal government for a special security intervention fund to enable states contain the myriad of crises, Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) recently reiterated the call for state police. The Forum identified the increasing need for state police as a strategy for combating the rising insecurity in the country. The call for the establishment of state police is an expression of concerns and indeed a vote of no confidence in the present structure and management of the Nigeria Police. The police have, especially in recent times, failed in its duty of maintaining law and order, internal security, intelligence gathering and in checking the increasing wave of crimes in the country.
Nothing expresses this state of affair more than their inability to contain the Boko Haram insurgency. The entire police force is so overwhelmed to the extent that a huge slice of the military asset has to be deployed to perform police duty with serious implications for professionalism on the military, not to mention the effects of its exposure on civil –military relations. But the governors, indeed, have very compelling reasons to ask for the decentralisation of the Nigeria Police as presently constituted. They as the chief security officers of their state more or less bear the huge responsibilities for the upkeep and maintenance of the police in form of logistics, allowances and other forms of assistance.
But they have no control or power over the police command in their states, until they get clearance from Abuja. The case of the governors was amplified by the Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi who said that besides making responses to security needs immediate and fast, the call for state police is an extension of true federalism where each federating unit is supposed to have control of its security apparatus. “Each of the federating units (which are the states) should have control over their own security apparatus. That is not to say that we still won’t have a federal police which responds to federal issues but in terms of wider knowledge of what obtains in my locality, the best person to use is somebody from that locality who has a much better, much richer understanding and will be faster in response to the immediate needs of that environment,” he said.
Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi, a former top police officer and former Director General of the National Security Organisation put his weight behind the governor’s demand when he said the state police would improve the management of internal security and the maintenance of law and order. Also, retired Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of police and now the Oba of Lagos , Rilwan Babatunde Akiolu, said the solution to the pervasive insecurity in the country lies in state police. He argued that such men and officers would have local knowledge of the environment and would be more effective in dealing with local crimes, protecting law and order and in intelligence gathering. The argument could not have been better marshalled considering the current national security realities.
But we will also add that the current institutional arrangement with the Police leaves much room for corruption because the federal and the state governments often claim to expend so much money on the force, claims which are difficult to establish or verify. While we are aware of its potential pitfalls, we believe that the merits of having state police far outweigh its demerits. With the active support of the media, the civil society, the legislature and indeed the judiciary, genuine concerns can easily be addressed. The country is overdue for the establishment of state police.