BY FRANK MBA.
Much has been said about the state police. Infact some prominent members of our society Governors, political leaders, lawmakers and even eminent retired Police Officers have added their voices to the call that now one feels it is no more so golden to keep silent but rather add my own stream to the oceans of perspectives on it.
By way of definition, State Police, alternative seen as provincial or regional policing, refers to a type of sub-national territorial policing, which is practiced in many parts of the World, notably, the US, Canada, Australia, Brazil and India.
In Nigeria, two broad positions have been emerged, Viz, those clamoring for the institutionalization of the State Police and those vehemently opposed to it and advocating for the retention and strengthening of the existing unitary police structure as enshrine in all the Nigerian constitution 1960, 1968, 1978, 1979, 1989 and 1999, with all the attendants amendment which give the Nigerian Police the exclusive jurisdiction of policing entire country.
Section 214 (1) of the 1999 constitution for instance state that “there shall be a police force on Nigeria which shall be known as Nigeria Police Force, and subject to vision of the section, no other police force shall be established for the Federation or any part thereof”
The prominent of state police content that there has been a growing level of insecurity in the country arising basically from the inability of the existing unitary Police Force to deliver on its core mandate or providing citizens the basic needs of safety and security, preventing the commission of crime and maintaining law and order in the polity.
While some heap the blame on the doorstep of police personnel, others blame it on the failure of the Federal Government to provide the police the necessary working tools, training, motivation and the needed man power to effectively police the nation.
Some Governors also favour the creation of state police so that they will be full control of the policing structures in their states. The contend that of all the progressive democracies in the world today, only Nigeria has a centralize unitary policing system in a nation presumably run by the Federalist doctrines and principle. Emboldened by the constitutional provision as contained in section 176 (2) of 1999 constitution which places the burden of the internal security of each state on the shoulder of the Chief Security Officer – Governors – the idea of a single unitary police force which takes orders not expressly from Governors but from Police hierarchy in Abuja, is consider and anomaly.
Expectedly, not many Nigerians are on the same page with these Governors on the issue of state police. Many contend that the Governors want State Police as instrument to wield egregious powers, to oppress their opponents and put them in check. These critics readily cite the example of what most governors have done regards to the State Independents Electoral Commission (SIECs) in their various states. The note that most Nigerians, despite the some worth imperfection of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), would rather have INEC conduct their election than have SIECs which have now become instrument in the hands of Governors to conquer opponent and allocate votes during Local Government Elections.
Some have also urge that the expression of lack of trust in the present Police system is inappropriate. They seek explanation to why it is so easy for the same Nigeria Police personnel who are so maligned at home, perform so excellently well in all the international policing engagement they have embarked on since Independence?
The reason therefore that rather than blame the police or seek to create other police units, it would be more profitable to studiously look at how we have founded the police and provide them with enabling tools, motivation and environment to operate. These position is further fuelled by the fact that arguably, the Nigeria Police Force remains the most Pan-Nigeria Institution in the country today. Over the years, it has effectively continued to serve as unifying factor in the Nigerian federation with presence in all States, Local Government Areas, Cities, Towns and villages and all components of the Nigerian Societies.
*Mba, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, is Force Spokesman