Recently, Northern leaders, led by the governors and monarchs, called for the adoption of state police as a way of tackling the insecurity ravaging the country. This is against the position of Northern governors and leaders who hitherto firmly opposed state police. Is Nigeria actually ripe for State police and is it the best option to tackle insecurity? What’s the best way to structure and fund it? South East residents speak.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo states its position
Ohanaeze Ndigbo welcomes the idea of state police, saying it has been advocating for it for long. Speaking through the National Publicity Secretary, Dr. Alex Chiedozie Ogbonnia, Ohanaeze Ndigbo states: “We are particularly delighted that the Northern governors have realised the need for State police in the country. Ideally, there is hardly any federalism in the world that operates a one level security architecture. It is very instructive that the Nigerian Federation is too humongous for the federal security services. The concept of State Police is to augment or complement the federal security services. There is supposed to be three or more levels of security outfits in every true federation.
“The Ohanaeze concept of Ebubeagu is a response to the ravaging insecurity in the country. The cliché that security is a collective responsibility readily comes to mind. Therefore, Ohanaeze Ndigbo believes that those that will serve in the Ebubeagu Security outfit should undergo rigorous credibility scrutiny and mostly accredited by the traditional rulers in the various autonomous communities.
“It was envisaged that the South- East should have a central security command structure that coordinates all the state-owned security outfits in the zone. But this was not to be. However, we are confident that the concept of Ebubeagu is a philosophy founded on knowledge, experience and reason.”
State Police can’t work in present Nigeria —ADF
But elite Igbo group, Alaigbo Development Foundation, ADF, does not buy the idea of state police under the country’s present arrangement.
“State Police cannot be imposed on the current monolithic federal structure of the Nigerian state. Rather, we have to start with genuine regional autonomy. To talk about State Police first without reconstituting or renegotiating the skewed federation would result in the granting of licences to local tyrants and their regimes of impunity,” ADF spokeman, Abi Onyike said.
Good but FG should be in charge of the structure — Gen. Ijioma (retd)
For retired Major-General Ijioma Nwokoro Ijioma, state police is ideal but state governments should not be allowed to determine the organisational structure. Rather, Gen. Ijioma wants the Federal Government to set up the structure in order to maintain a uniform code.
“If they have resolved to bring state police, my take is that the Federal Government should be there to determine a uniform structure for them. Their training should be the responsibility of the Federal Government so as to maintain a uniform code and administration.
“States should not be allowed to run it as they like. The existing Police training institutions will be responsible for training the personnel so they can have the same standard,” the retired general said.
He, however, said that states would be allowed to have absolute say over funding, saying: “Since it is State Police, states should be allowed to provide their funding.”
He advised that Nigeria should learn from Western countries where state police are in operation to avoid abuse as already being witnessed in some states with regional security outfit like Ebubeagu.
Personnel must be well remunerated to avoid creating legitimate criminals —COSEYL
Contributing, the President- General of the Coalition of South- East Youth Leaders, COSEYL, Comrade Goodluck Ibem, supports the idea of State Police but cautioned that provisions must be made for adequate and regular pay of the personnel to avoid them resorting to extortion.
“If we are to establish state police, there has to be an agreement between the federal and state governments to pay the security personnel directly from the federal allocations. The Federal Government will deduct from the monthly allocations of the state to pay the operatives.
“We are aware that some governors find it very difficult to pay salaries of their workers, not to talk of pensions. If payment of the salaries of state police personnel is added, it means that another set of criminals have been lawfully created by the state governments.”
Prince Richard Ozobu, in supporting the idea, suggests that Nigeria should operate a system where the local, state and federal police formations exist and complement each other to combat criminal activities.
He condemned the current system where a policeman from Sokoto State is posted to provide security in Enugu or Abia State where he does not know the terrain.
His words: “The main issue is that when we were growing up, there was a standard security system where everybody was his brother’s keeper. We had the usual neighbourhood watch and people contributed to fund them. If the local government system had been active, many things would have been in place. Let the communities and local government sponsor the local police or neighbourhood watch, the governors can take care of the state police while the Federal Government fund the Federal Police.”
According to a security consultant, Mr. Bright Collins Nduka, although the governors are chief security officers of their respective states, the issue of state police is still the exclusive preserve of the Federal Government and the only thing the governors can do is to support Police Commands in their states until there is constitutional provision for state police.
Nduka said: “We knew that it was premature for the governors to be talking about state police knowing the processes required for it to materialize. Even in the interim, it is still difficult to collectively fund any security outfit by governors. The best each state could do is to safeguard its area using their local vigilante in whatever name, until the constitution provides for state police.”
State police is meaningless if Fulani herders still go about with AK47 —Prof Igwe
A professor of Political Science, Obasi Igwe sounds negative on the issue, saying that formation of state police is not the solution to insecurity in the region and Nigeria in general. According to him, state police is meaningless if the Federal Government still allows Fulani herders to go about with AK-47, kidnapping, killing and maiming people.
“State-sponsored, orchestrated, condoned or connived insecurity nation-wide since mid-2015, not the absence of state police, is the major source of insecurity in today’s Nigeria. And until there is a government in Abuja that ends what is now generally viewed as orchestrated insecurity as an instrument of policy, insecurity in the country will continue, and might even get worse as we move towards May 2023.
“Until the present government is replaced by another that would disarm the AK-47 terrorists in the forests and blocking the Enugu-Port Harcourt, Abuja-Kaduna and other strategic highways; even with state police, insecurity will continue and even intensify,” Prof. Igwe noted.
Monarchs, town unions should be allowed to make nominations —Imo stakeholder
A political leader in Imo State, Marshal Okafor welcomes state police but suggests that traditional rulers and elected members of town unions should be allowed to nominate people to be recruited into the outfit.
“I believe state police is the best panacea to this current insecurity in this country. Most importantly, it has to be structured in such a way that the people must be carried along. Nominations for the state police should come from the village heads, traditional rulers and elected town unions and not those appointed by the governors for their personal agenda. State police remains the best but it must be taken away from the hands of the state governors and handed over to the people,” Okafor said.
The traditional ruler of Umueri community in Anambra State, Igwe Ben Emeka, said total restructuring of the country will help in curbing insecurity.
According to him, neither the establishment of state police nor setting up of Ebubeagu security outfit can stop insecurity because the operational aspect would still remain imperfect. The monarch insisted that the best way of stamping out insecurity is to stop nepotism in Federal Government’s appointments.
Let states adopt federal structure, FG funds it —Prof. Opata
A retired university don, Professor Damian Opata, said that states should adopt the federal structure of the Nigeria Police Force for state police while the funding should come from the Federal Government. The professor emeritus of Oral Literature at University of Nigeria, Nsukka, however, noted that state police would not work if the Federal Government is not involved in funding. He called for 60 per cent of police budget to go to state police and 40 per cent to federal police. He explained that state police is one step towards achieving regional autonomy.