- Sunday Ehindero (Ex- Inspector-General of Police, Federal Republic of Nigeria)
We are not ripe for state police. We saw in the First and Second Republic how the police were used by political opponents and it was an instrument of terror at that time. Moreover, state police cannot deal with the challenge of terrorism. Imagine terrorism in a state; it needs federal force to deal with it. If you look at what we have now, we have policemen in every state; the governors have some control over the police. Look at Lagos State; is the governor not in control? The governors have control, but they are saying the Inspector-General of Police should not be the one giving orders to state Commissioners of Police. But the constitution has made it that the governor can give orders to the CP. But if the CP feels the order is not in the interest of justice or rule of law, he could ask the governor to revert the order to the IG or the President.
We have not looked at the issue of boundary disputes between states. Take for instance, if Osun and Ondos states have state police and they have boundary problem, of course, each would use its own police to justify its position and that is not in the interest of justice. I think we are not ripe really. When I heard Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, saying it is only in Nigeria that we have police in this form, I want to say that there is nowhere the federation has evolved as we have evolved. The police can only be effective when there is developed rapport between the Force and the community to the extent that they can give information on their own to the police.
Also, something has to be done about the funding of the police. The Police Trust Fund they are talking about should be effective; the police shouldn’t go cap in hand begging for funds; no it shouldn’t be. There should be a demarcation between the duties of the police and that of the military. Internal security should be the responsibility of the police and they must be put in a situation where they can perform their duty.
- Mike Ejiofor (Ex-Director, Department of State Services)
I have been one of the advocates of state police for a long time. It is good that the National Assembly has now got on the matter to ensure that they give the enabling law speedy passage. The creation of state police is going to improve our security because the governors of states have been called the chief security officers, which has just been a name without the power for them to carry out the responsibility.
The challenge I hear the people talk about, which is that the state police can be an instrument of oppression, to me is not sufficient enough to kill the idea.
Look, there is no way it can be made a tool for oppressing the opposition. How many Nigerians presently have been taking the police to court? If anyone thinks his rights have been infringed on by the state police, he or she has the right to go to court and take civil action.
Also, people talk about the 2019 elections and the dangers of having the state police. I want to say that we conduct elections just once in four years, but we deal with insecurity every day.
Security will no doubt improve when we have the state police. With state police, the recruitment will generally come from the locals who know the terrain.
They will not work as if they are excluded from the Nigeria Police Force. They will work in synergy with the federal police.
If we don’t have structures like the state police on the ground, it may even be horrible for the security situation during elections. I think the National Assembly should go on with the passage of state police into law.
(Ex-President, Nigerian Bar Association)
Absolutely! The answer is clear. The state police issue is a small conceptual issue in the larger discussion of devolution of power and restructuring. What it means is that in any management system, if you concentrate power in the hands of one person and you ignore the component parts, there is bound to be inefficiency. So, when you have a President of Nigeria sitting in Abuja and controlling the entire criminal justice system of Nigeria, it is simply impossible for him to cope. It doesn’t matter if it is Buhari. It could be any President.
You cannot effectively check human behaviour with an Inspector-General of Police sitting in Abuja. It is not possible. The standard procedure is that policing is devolved along three areas: federal, state and local government. That is what happens in the United States and the United Kingdom. So, state police is important to make powers available to the federal policing authority and also the states so that you can effectively tackle crime, terrorism and whatever misdemeanor. It would also empower the governors to run their states more effectively.
However, I will not advocate picking state police out of the whole number of matters that can be devolved from the federation. If you are talking about state police, it means those who accept it must also accept a major devolution of powers to the states. When you devolve power to the states, the problem of revenue generation and payment of policemen would be made possible. The fear of governors misusing the police is the same you can direct at the federal police. After all, all Nigerian Presidents since 1999 have abused the federal police.
So, that is not an excuse to reject state police. The same way we must ensure that the President does not misuse the state police is the same way we ensure that governors do not misuse state police. All we need to do is to look at successful models.
- Dr Funso Oladipo (Chairman, Offa Security Trust Fund)
I believe the creation of state police will improve the security of each state in Nigeria. The state police, just like in many developed countries, will complement the federal police. The state police will be more at home with the indigenes of the state. Obviously, if you are going to train policemen to keep Offa safe, we are going to look for people who know the Offa terrain and who will be part of the security outfit as it does happen in developed countries such as the United States. You have the federal, state and even county police. The counties have their different law enforcement agents also.
I believe that we are overdue for state police. It is really going to cut down the violence that we are experiencing.
There should be a collaboration of all stakeholders to address the current insecurity in some parts of the country. Even communities should play their role in ensuring their safety. Just like in Offa, we have commenced the construction of mobile police barracks. The project is being funded by Offa indigenes and friends. On completion, the first phase of the project, which consists of about 15 blocks of two bedrooms with a total of 120 flats, will accommodate a reasonable number of riot police personnel. There will also be administrative blocks and other facilities. That is the type of collaboration and synergy that will improve security.
- Hector Ehiguina (Benin-based legal practitioner)
I do not think that Nigeria, as a country, has developed economically to have state police, when you take into consideration our political structure. When we get to a certain stage in our economic development, then we can say that we have got to the point of having state police.
Recently, some policemen in Bornu State complained about non-payment of their allowances. If we decide to have police funded by state governments, funding will be an issue.
We have states that have not paid their workers for 19 months. So, imagine adding state police to that.
I think the Nigeria police have the capacity to quell any violence perpetrated in any part of the country. The IG knows what to do in the event of violence.
- Senator Femi Okurounmu (Ex- Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on National Conference)
My views on state police have been constant. It is an essential part of the restructuring we have been advocating. State police is one of the most crucial aspects of restructuring because without state police, you cannot call the governors the chief security officers of their states. There is no way you can call a governor the chief security officer of a state when he has no control over the police.
He cannot even enforce the laws of the state house of assembly. If it is the wish of the President that laws passed by the state assembly should be disobeyed, the President can ask the police not to enforce the law and there is nothing the governor can do. So, state police is very essential for the proper maintenance of law and order in the country.
It also prevents dictatorship at the centre because if you have the police being controlled by just one man, then he can misuse it and there is nothing anybody can do. In fact, that is what is happening right now. The Fulani herdsmen are killing people right, left and centre; they are not being arrested or prosecuted because the Inspector-General of Police has decided to look the other way. So, there is nothing anyone can do.
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