Nigeria News: Are We Ready For State Police?
Nigeria News takes a look at the growing calls for state police and how prepared are the state governments to fund it.
The call for state police has been for a long time. And each time there is a crisis in any part of the country and the present police structure fails to curtail the situation, what comes to one’s mind is perhaps the need for a community policing.
It has been one of the contentious issues wherever and whenever the debate on true federalism or restructuring is being tabled. Despite the calls, successive governments had failed to adopt state policing as one of the ways to address the growing rate of crimes in Nigeria.
However, on Thursday, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said there was the need for state police now to address the mammoth challenges of criminal activities across the country. He said this at a security summit organized by the Nigerian Senate in Abuja, adding that the over 180 million Nigerians have grown beyond being policed from the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
He also posited that the country’s large land mass would require state police and other community security apparatus to deal with the problem at hands.
If Nigeria is a collection of federating units then state police forms part of the style and structure whether we like it or not. Whether it is going to be effective as many have reasoned is another matter entirely.
State police, as viewed by past governments would become a political wing and weapon for state governors who would be using it to oppress the opposition.
Another thing is the lack of financial capacity to fund a professional police officer by many of the state governments. We all know that almost all the state governments cannot pay their workers’ salaries and with state police, what this may translate to is an increasing level of corruption.
State police should have been there as far back as independence in 1960 but constitutional lawyers argue that the country’s constitution in itself has been the biggest problem standing against it.
It is believed that the closeness of the state police to the society of its jurisdiction places it in more proactive position for the detecting and uprooting of any emerging crime.
But judging by some state-owned law enforcement agencies like Traffic Agencies, Environmental Agencies and recently the Anti-Grazing Agency. How far are their contributions to the polity?
Speaking on the need for state police, the Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose said “It is sad when crimes (majorly serious ones) are committed within your territory or state, and as a sitting governor who is tagged the Chief Security officer of that State, you have to quickly call the Police Commissioner and heads of other related agencies, then the CP call the DIG to get to the IGP and in that process, the IGP alerts the President, so how do we tackle Crimes in such manner, when the IGP receives calls from the 36 states and the FCT almost at the same time and governors have to wait for days to act.”
How do state governments fund the police? Fayose said, if states are allowed to control their resources, the funds to take care of the police would be available.
The idea of state police sounds nice, it requires sensitization, education and reorientation of the members of the public among whom the police would be recruited.
At present, the country is battling with the overlapping of responsibilities and conflict of interests between the police and the Department of State Service, DSS. LASTMA is battling with traffic police in Lagos. When the state police come on board, it will come with both the pros and cons. But the question is, are we ready for state police?