State Police Still A Raging Issue

<strong>State Police Still A Raging Issue</strong>

For a while, the issue of state police in the country has been on the front burner of national discourse. It is even more auspicious given the unrelenting insecurity across the country. Interestingly, the concern has elicited diverse responses which are varied depending on the divide.

Those who are ‘enjoying the benefit’ of a Federal Police are  calling for a fostering of a regime that would foist the status quo on Nigerians while opposing forces think otherwise.

Nigeria is due for State policing as available in other global spaces.

Against the background of rising insecurity in the country, former President Olusegun Obasanjo reiterated calls for the introduction of State police as a panacea for tackling the hydra-headed concerns relating to insecurity across the country.

Decentralising of Nigeria’s policing system received the death knell not too long ago, when President Muhammadu Buhari dismissed it as an option in the search for remedies to the country’s worsening security challenges. He similarly waved aside the clamour for restructuring as confusing.

State police and restructuring are two related subjects that many Nigerians consider essential to solving the deteriorating insecurity in the country, which is threatening diverse critical sectors, down to the very fabric holding the country together. The protagonists of State police argue that decentralising policing will help solve the prevailing problems of low morale, corruption and under-policing by profoundly raising the number of police officers and emplacing grassroots security systems in the country.

The total personnel strength of the Nigeria Police currently stands at about 371,000, although the Federal Government plans to recruit more officers to raise the figure to about 650,000 in the coming years. While Nigeria’s median of police officer to population is not far from the United Nations recommended maximum of one police officer to 450 persons, some analysts say the police problem in the country goes deeper than under-policing to under-security, arising from viral corruption, extortion, intimidation, brutality, lack of commitment, inadequate training and poor equipment.

It surprised many as President Buhari flatly ruled out State police as an option, in the search for solutions to the confounding security challenges of the country, which span terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and other extreme violent crimes in an interview last year. He similarly chided advocates of restructuring for allegedly being amorphous in their agitations, while insisting on the resuscitation of old cattle routes as a way of solving the recurring herders-farmers conflicts across the country.

We are concerned that often the Police only take instructions from the centre. Coincidentally, last year, President Buhari’s rejection of the State police option came a day after Lagos State governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu was publicly defied by a Chief Superintendent of Police ,CSP, deployed to Magodo Estate in Lagos by the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Usman Baba and the Attorney-General of the Federation/Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami.

Like former President Olusegun Obasanjo, we further our call that Nigeria needs state police to tackle insecurity, it is a truism that only those that know the terrain would be able to tackle local insecurities as the perpetrators are locals or partly indigenous.

There have been calls for State police following the widespread insecurity in the country the government had rejected the idea, saying it was not an option for the nation.

The option of continuously using the Federal Police for State security has defeated the spirit of Federalism. In August 2020, Buhari approved N13.3 billion for the commencement of community policing in the country as part of measures to consolidate efforts aimed at enhancing security nationwide.

But Obasanjo, who had also rejected the clamour for State police in the past, said its establishment would be a better option than community policing.

We are not lost in the argument on what is auspicious at this time, since we have been vociferous on the matter. We call for a policing system that would be in touch with the people. That situation could mirror what happens in other climes without dropping the essential character of enforcing security outside intelligence.

AljazirahNigeria still holds that whether or not we have a full-proof system, our first measure is to aggregate community intelligence as the first step. 

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