HomeViews and ReviewsState Police Plan Knocking IGP Against Tinubu, Jonathan, Abdulsalami

State Police Plan Knocking IGP Against Tinubu, Jonathan, Abdulsalami

The issue of introducing state police into the country’s security architecture has continued to divide opinions in Nigeria at the National Dialogue on State Policing held yesterday in Abuja.

LEADERSHIP reports that while one side of the argument insists that the country’s centralised police system is inadequate to contain the present level of insecurity in the country, the opposing group fears that governors could use it to haunt their opponents.

Vice President Kashim Shettima, who opened the one-day National Dialogue on State Policing with the theme, “Pathways to Peace: Reimagining Policing in Nigeria” at the Abuja Continental Hotel, described as unwavering President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s resolve to reform the Nigeria Police Force and enhance security across Nigeria.

He observed that the idea of state policing was not just a mere policy proposal, but a potential milestone in the evolution of the nation’s law enforcement framework that would create the opportunity to fashion law enforcement in a manner that would closely address the various demands of communities across the country.

In a statement by his spokesman, Stanley Nkwocha, Shettima said that the Tinubu administration is much aware of the complex security issues confronting Nigeria, and as such is continually developing and refining its strategies and methods to address them effectively.Declaring the president’s resolve to change the nation’s security narrative, the VP said, “The commitment of the administration of President Tinubu to reform the police force and enhance security at both the national and state levels is unwavering.

“We view the outcomes of today’s deliberations as crucial inputs that will guide the government’s actions towards reforming the institution of the police and achieving a safer and more secure Nigeria.”

 

Shettima implored participants at the National Dialogue on State Policing to look at the idea of state policing from multiple angles, saying the President deserves commendation for being open and proactive towards the idea of reforming and decentralising the police force.

“In our deliberations, let us consider the implications of state policing from multiple perspectives. We must evaluate its potential to improve response times to emergencies, adapt to specific local challenges, and increase accountability. At the same time, we must address concerns related to the standardisation of training, oversight, and the safeguarding of civil liberties.

“Our dialogue today should also be seen as an opportunity to listen, understand, and propose solutions that bridge gaps. It is essential that this forum is not the end but the beginning of an ongoing conversation on the issue of police and security sector reform in our country.”

Shettima expressed delight that the 10th House of Representatives under Speaker Tajudeen Abbas had keyed into the idea of state policing, noting that “the involvement of the legislature in executive reform proposals ensures continuity and synergy.

He expressed readiness to support and implement the meaningful recommendations of the House of Representatives on reforms of the entire policing system to enhance the security of the country.

According to him, the path to effective security is through adaptive reforms catering to Nigeria’s diversity which can be only achieved by carefully reviewing various options and methods in the Nigerian context, adding the inclusive approach will guide the country towards a most effective policing system.

“This government under the leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is acutely aware of the complex security issues that abound in places; as such we are continually developing methods to address these challenges effectively,” he stated.

IGP Kicks, Wants NSCDC, FRSC Merged As Police Department

But the inspector-general of police, Olukayode Egbetokun, has said that instead of creating state police, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and the Federal Road Safety Corps should be merged as a Department under the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).

Represented by an assistant inspector general of police, Ben Okolo, the IGP also said that yearly police recruitment should be increased by at least 30,000 to meet the United Nations requirements.

He also called for increased budgetary allocations to the Nigerian Police, effective training of personnel in modern policing to enhance efficiency and amendment of the Constitution for more empowerment, and funding of police which is the lead internal security agency.

Egbetokun noted that if state police is established, governors will use it for political or personal gains and undermine human rights and security, adding that bringing state police at the moment will exacerbate ethnic tension in the country.

The Inspector General further asserted that the agitations for state police was informed by the perception that the police was not living up to its responsibilities, a development caused by a motley of the challenges militating against the force.

He identified some of the challenges as inadequate manpower, inadequate operational equipment, including arms and ammunition and surveillance equipment; inadequate training due to poor funding as well as inadequate office and barracks accommodation.

“Most police stations and barracks that were built over the years in the colonial period have not undergone any renovations despite an increase in the strength of the force. These have impacted negatively on performance of the personnel,” he said.

Speaking in the same vein, the minister of police affairs, Sen. Ibrahim Geidam observed that while state police is essential to local security it has the potential for political interference and human rights abuse.

He said: “Establishment of state police is not without its demerits; one of them is political interference. Oversight and accountability are paramount and must be put in place to ensure the interference is reduced. An implementation roadmap is essential for successful operation.”

Speaking at a panel discussion, emeritus Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan said the issues raised by the Inspector General of Police need to be addressed before considering state police.

“If we look at the issues like funding and welfare, before we establish state police, it will be great, so that when it comes to the time to establish state police, we will see that we split the existing police force to federal and state police.

“We want to ensure that the state police should be Nigerian police, but no matter what we do now, even if we have the best but there is still corruption, there won’t be a solution,” he said.

CSOs Back IGP, Minister Disagrees

Some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have supported the rejection of state police by the Inspector General of Police, Dr Olukayode Egbetokun

The CSOs expressed fear that state police will be liable to abuse and said that Nigeria is currently not ready for it.

The CSOs that spoke to LEADERSHIP are The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), Transparency International (TI) and the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC).

Speaking through their leader, Awwal Musa Rafsanjani, they said state governors who are defaulting in paying workers’ salaries cannot run state police with the transparency and neutrality it deserves.

The CSOs expressed fear that insecurity might be compounded as the focus of security management might be altered by these governors.

“On the issue of state police, it is very clear that state governors who cannot pay salaries, and cannot tolerate democratic contests, cannot help in running state police. Obviously, there will be risks to surrender state police to them,” Rafsanjani said while supporting the stand of the IGP.

“If they can’t pay teachers, can’t manage hospitals, how can they manage police that need regular training to counter security threats? How can they maintain the payment of their salaries and allowances?” Rafsanjani said of the governors.

“The governors and the current situation make it impossible for the state government to manage insecurity. They will go after CSOs, human rights activists and the opposition. That will be the security threat to them, not terrorists, bandits, kidnappers and other groups that are threats to society,” Rafsanjani said.

“We agree with the IGP; we need a strong police system with equipment and well trained personnel with their salaries paid regularly, with their centre in Abuja.”

In his contribution, the minister of police affairs, Senator Ibrahim Gaidam said implementing state police will enhance local responsiveness, improve crime prevention and strengthen security at the grassroots level.

He stated this in Abuja during his goodwill message at the National Dialogue on State Policing.

The minister proposed a model for implementing state policing in Nigeria, suggesting a decentralised structure where each state manages its police force under a framework that ensures cooperation and coordination with federal agencies.

He said, “This model would involve recruiting, training, and equipping state police officers to meet professional standards while ensuring accountability and oversight mechanisms are in place”.

In addition, Gaidam recommended an institutional and legal framework that delineates the roles, responsibilities, and jurisdiction of state police forces within the broader national security architecture.

“This framework should include mechanisms for information sharing, collaboration, and coordination between state and federal agencies to address cross-border and transnational security challenges effectively,” the minister stated.

He reiterated the need for a comprehensive national dialogue involving stakeholders at all levels to deliberate on implementing state police in Nigeria, taking into account the unique challenges and opportunities present in the country’s diverse socio-political landscape.

“This dialogue should aim to build consensus on the way forward and develop a roadmap for the phased implementation of state policing, ensuring that it contributes to enhancing security, upholding the rule of law, and protecting the rights of all citizens across the nation,” Geidam added.

We Can’t Manage Internal Security Without State Police – Jonathan, Abdulsalam

In his remark, former President Goodluck Jonathan said there is no way that the country can manage its internal security if states will not have their own police formations, noting that the issue is how they will function in national security architecture.

Jonathan said while state police is being debated, the issue of National Border Force must be considered as it would help in tackling criminal elements who do not pass through the controlled routes manned by the Nigerian Customs Service and Nigerian Immigration Service.

He also said as discussions are ongoing about state police, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must also be rejigged, as well as the use of police during elections.

“When I set up the 2014 national dialogue, during that period, we had a lot of challenges in the country. People were agitating in many areas, and in one state the whole local government delegates advocated for state police. When the matter came up, everybody supported it.

“We cannot move away from the issue of state police; the issue of national border force was also accepted. The issue of the national coast guard was also accepted. As we are talking about state police, we almost also rejig INEC. The issue of polling booths of INEC and the use of police during elections need to be reviewed by the National Assembly,” he said.

A former head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, wants traditional rulers as part of the security architecture of the country as they have native intelligence at their disposal.

He further stated that for the country to have peace and progress, the government must be transparent and accountable while the citizens must perform their civic duties of obeying laws and regulations.

“In order to make peace, have security in any nation, the government must be transparent and accountable and all that will take to make citizens comfortable in order to go on with their daily business to earn their legitimate living. Again, having said that, citizens of every country have a responsibility to ensure the maintenance of peace and order.

“As a child growing up in the rural community, we see the role of the village heads where if a stranger enters a village the village head knows about that and through their communication the Emir is aware. As we are talking about establishing the state police, we should also look into the role of our royal fathers,” he said, adding that the calibre of police recruits is important.

“Police should not be a job for crooks and dropouts. Police jobs must be attractive. We don’t want the kind of policing that we are seeing today. It shouldn’t depend on how much you pay before you are recruited or posted,” Rafsanjani added.

According to him, Nigerians want policemen that are trained to combat crime and not to be carrying bags for politicians.

“It should be a job that is attractive with good people joining while their salaries and allowances are paid when due,” the CSOs added.

The Speaker of the House, Hon. Abbas Tajudeen said the House and the National Assembly entirely do not have a fixed position on state police as their role is to facilitate a dialogue and generate consensus.

“The House of Representatives is aware of the divisive and polarising arguments surrounding the issue under review. Let me state categorically that the House and indeed the National Assembly does not have a fixed position. Our role is to facilitate a dialogue and generate consensus.

“In discussions as significant as this, it is imperative that we approach each debate with objectivity and neutrality. We must acknowledge our biases and set them aside in favour of what is most beneficial for our dear country. Our discussions should be marked not by the pursuit of personal or political gains but by a steadfast commitment to the common good,” he said.

 

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