Nigeria ripe for state police -Attorney-General, ex-PDP chair, others
By Sunmola Olowookere & Adekola Afolabi
Some political leaders in the country have attributed the rising cases of banditry to the absence of state police, insisting that Nigeria is long overripe for state police.
The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Ondo State, Mr. Adekola Olawoye, SAN, the state former Peoples Democratic Party Chairman, Dr. Tayo Dairo and other legal practitioners maintained that state police is capable of curbing banditry and other forms of criminality that keep rearing their ugly heads in the country.
Olawoye, who expressed a firm belief in state police noted that its advantages far outweigh the fears being nursed in some quarters, that it could be converted to instruments of operassion by state governments.
He said that natives of each state who reside in the communities and who understand the terrains and going-on in each of the communities would serve as members of the police.
He harped on the need for restructuring, which he said would empower state governments to be able to meet their obligations in addition to the funding of state police.
He said that the enormity of security challenges bedeviling the country currently were enough to have forced the federal government to look the way of creating state police as a means of countering the challenges.
In the same vein, the Public Relations Officer of the Akure Branch of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Mr. Segun Akeredolu agreed that Nigeria was ripe for state police.
He regretted that the police act of almost a century ago placed the police under the federal government, hence key officers of the police are only answerable to the federal government and may choose not to obey the state governor’s orders.
He allayed the fears in some quarters that the state police if constituted would be converted to instruments of terrorism by unscrupulous leaders by citing the Israel’s example of state police.
His words: “In Israel, you are licensed to carry a gun and taught how to use it once you attained 18 years, so no one can threaten the other because they are all equally equipped and armed. So the issue of terrorising others does not arise”.
A consultant with Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC) based in Lagos, Mr Salaudeen Hashim, in his own opinion said that poor remunerations, inadequate funding and lack of personnel welfare have been identified as part of the ills that need to be addressed if state police system would be able to function as expected if it is inaugurated.
“Currently, these factors are bedeviling the Nigeria Police Force and militating against its effective policing of Nigeria and its teeming population.”
It would be recalled that there is currently a bill for review of the existing Policing Act of 1943 before the National Assembly which has passed the second reading.
He stated that the police reform bill if passed into law will make the Nigeria Police Force work more effectively and conform to the provisions of democratic dispensation’s requirements of humane policing.
He stated that there was a yawning gap between the police and the people and the need to build public confidence in the police force mostly rests on inauguration of state policing which would bring them nearer to the people.
He believed that through this, incidences of crime would be reduced to the barest minimum.
Hashim however expressed reservations on state policing act should it scale through.
He wondered whether Nigeria was matured enough to have a state police without some state leaders abusing the process.
Also reacting, a lawyer, Barr. Joshua Sebiotimo Esq. had a divergent opinion; he believed that Nigeria is not ripe for state police.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) former state chairman, Dr. Tayo Dairo, in his contribution said without state policing, the high-tech killings, robbery, kidnapping and cultism ravaging the country would continue unabated.
He believed that there cannot be community policing without state policing, adding that both are necessary to flush out criminals in the society.
He explained that the argument that the state governors would misuse the system is neither here nor there as Nigerians could always call them to order.
“It is neither here nor there especially when people are afraid of the autocracy and the behaviour of governors that they will abuse the privilege.
“Without community policing, there is no way we will overcome security challenges. We will continue to have security challenges because it is the local people that will know the criminals among them and know what to do about their situation. But for me, I think we need more of community policing than the central policing system that we have now.
“Anywhere in the Northeast or anywhere in the country where bandits and hoodlums are perpetrating crimes, if the people in the community did not support them, it will be difficult for them to make any progress.
“The people in the community know everybody around including the criminals and they know how to pass information, but with the policing system we have now, the people will not feel free to give police information”, he stressed.
He equally said government does not need to recruit new people, but only redeploy some of its staff who are doing nothing in their respective offices.
“There are people that are working in ministries and they are just sleeping there. So, such people can be redeployed without increasing any cost. You see, we have to use the best opportunities we have to address the challenges we have at hand. Government may not recruit new people, you can make use of what you have for now”, Dairo stated.