State Police: Action, Not Rhetoric

ALL over the world, police forces are responsible for the maintenance of law and order in the society. Their primary objective is to protect lives and property. The size and structure of the police force of any nation are determined by its security situation. Most large countries like China, India, and the United States of America with high populations operate multiple police forces to meet their security needs.  Nigeria, on the other hand, whose population is about 200 million occupying a very vast territory still operates a single central police system known as the Nigeria Police Force unlike the countries mentioned above.

CURRENTLY, the country is bedeviled by major security challenges such as; the Boko haram sect, cattle rustlers, and Fulani herdsmen ravaging the north majorly and have made incursions into other parts of the country. Also, kidnappers, armed robbers, and Niger Delta militants seemed to have made a pact to inflict untold hardship on the people of southern Nigeria without any respite. Many farmers have abandoned their farms out of fear of kidnapping and attacks by cattle herdsmen as many of their colleagues have lost huge sums of money due to the destruction of their farms and a sizable number have paid the ultimate price with their lives.The Hope states categorically that these incessant attacks on the helpless farmers form the major cause of the festering and fast-spreading hunger in the land. We fear that the situation of things might get worse if drastic decisions are not made to make things right.

THE efforts of the central police known as the Nigerian Police Force to combat the menace have not yielded any appreciable results. Rather than being brought low, the bandits grew more audacious and daring by the day. It is against this backdrop that concerned Nigerians such as stakeholders, opinion groups, members of civil society groups, and the legislature at both federal and state levels have continued to call for the creation of state police as the only way out of this security quagmire which the nation is stuck in.

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UNFORTUNATELY, the extant Constitution does not give room for the creation of state police as Section 214 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution reads: “There shall be a Police Force for Nigeria, which shall be known as the Nigeria Police Force, and subject to the provision of this section no other Police Force shall be established for the Federation or any part thereof.” Hence the need for an amendment. Recall that on February 20, 2024, a bill proposing the creation of state police successfully passed the second reading in the House of Representatives. The legislation was titled, ‘A bill for an Act to alter the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, to provide for the establishment of State Police and related matters. Backed by 13 House members, the bill gained the majority’s favour in the Green Chamber, with many lawmakers arguing that the security challenges take precedence over concerns about political victimization by state governors.

PROPONENTS of state police argue that the outfit would bring law enforcement closer to the communities they serve, enhance the effectiveness of policing, and allow for more localized control over security matters, while opponents express reservations that state police could lead to the abuse of power, particularly in states with strong political control, potentially exacerbating regional tensions and undermining national unity. They cited the history of abuses of regional and local police by the regional governments during the events leading to Nigeria’s independence in the 1960s and earlier years of the independence.

THE passage of the bill in the House of Representatives for the creation of state police, in theory, is expected to constitutionally empower governors to be the Chief Security Officers of their states. Through this, the states will then enjoy some level of constitutional independence from the central government in governance and internal affairs in a federation. As of the time of writing this editorial, many of the Nigeria’s 36 states have not submitted reports on the proposed establishment of state police following the Federal and State Government’s resolve to develop modalities to create state police to tackle the country’s security crisis.

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THE nation has been under the waves of abductions, attacks by suspected bandits, and other violent crimes, hence The Hope is calling for more decisive action from political actors involved in the establishment of a multi-level policing system, including state police. In the face of security breaches and attacks happening all over the nation, Nigeria must jettison rhetoric and stop foot dragging on the implementation of the state police as it adequately addresses the food crisis bedeviling the nation and holding the neck of its people in a vice grip. Nigerians were excited when the age-long agitation seemed to be coming to fruition with the announcement of state police because it would bring security closer to the people and ensure a secure environment that would lead to agricultural development, industrialization, employment, and mitigate brain drain.

State Police: Action, Not Rhetoric

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