By Chuks Okocha
As the controversy over whose responsibility it is to pay for the community policing network rages, the Ondo State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, has said that it is not the duty of the 36 state governors of the federation to pay for the services of the community policing when it becomes operational.
Speaking during Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme Wednesday, the governor also said that the security outfit for the South-west states, Amotekun, will not operate under the community policing arrangement of the Nigeria Police Force as there is a law guiding its operations.
The Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIG), Research and Planning, Mr. Adeleye Oyebade, had Tuesday said that all other security arrangements in the country would fall under the community policing setup of the federal government.
The DIG had said: “I am going to tell you straight away. By the time the community policing strategy and implementation come fully into operation, everybody will follow suit. Everybody will join us and follow what we are preaching and what we practise”
The governor faulted the police claim that the states would be responsible for the funding of the community policing network.
He said: “I am sure that they are taking this thing too far that governors will have to pay. We have discussed this thing before and we told them it is not going to be possible. Are you increasing our allocations? Which state governor will accept that? Other states might say, ‘Yes, we will pay’, but we will not pay.
“Let’s be fair to ourselves, we are running a federal system. Where is that money going to come from when we are struggling to pay salaries? Nobody has ever come to us to say we will pay salaries (of community policemen). Anyway and if they come, we will write to say, no, we don’t have extra money to do that.”
On placing the Amotekun under the Nigeria Police, the governor said: “It will never be accepted, it is not our thinking. We have a law that sets this up. If the DIG feels otherwise, there is always a place for us to ventilate it. We are not afraid of this. The law says Amotekun will operate under its own law; it is not going to be subsumed under any setup. No.
“We will not collapse Amotekun for community policing. It will stand on its own. There is no intimidation. We are not people that can be intimidated (or) that the IG will give orders to. We will not. Amotekun is different. Community policing is different. If the IG does not understand, he will leave one day and other people will understand.
“We will work together, it is collaboration, not that it will be subsumed. The law is there and if anybody finds a fault in that law, we can go to court and ventilate whatever position in it. The DIG is totally wrong, Amotekun will not be subsumed under the community policing.”
Speaking on the carrying of arms by the Amotekun personnel, he said: “We are trying to make a case but we’ve not yet agreed as to what should be with the issue of ammunition. For now, we allow Amotekun (cops) to carry non-prohibited ammunition. There are some ammunition that are non-prohibited. But we know it can look suicidal trying to confront these criminals with non-prohibited ammunition, so, we are looking at other means.
“These are disciplined people and if they carry arms, it will be for protection. We will keep having this discussion with the police and at the national level. But if the Nigerian Police find it difficult to prevent herders who carry weapons with their cows, some of them have prohibited arms like AK-47 and you have not been able to prevent that, so, what stops disciplined people like Amotekun (operatives) from carrying arms for protection?
“At least when civil defence started, they were not carrying arms, they didn’t allow them carry arms but a case was made and they now carry arms. We will continue to discuss this.”
He called for a multi-level policing to effectively confront the security challenges in the country.
According to Akeredolu, “No state takes pride in insecurity and the governors will be committed to (state policing) because most governors are elected to secure the lives and property within their domains. So, which state will now have the police of its own and not deploy it to good use?
“Multi-level policing is the best for this country. I am one of those who believe we cannot have a central police and that security will continue to suffer until we devolve multi-level policing.
“Maybe people are afraid that the governors will take charge of it. No, the governors will not be the ones who will be solely responsible for state police. It will be a police council at the state level, the composition will be spelled out and people will be there by the virtue of their offices. So, it is not going to be a command that will be headed by a governor but by the functionality of the state police council.”