Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Six governors in the South West of Nigeria have unanimously demanded the creation of state police to tackle the rising insecurity – kidnapping, armed robbery, drug abuse, cultism, farmer/herders clashes, ritual killings, and other vices in the region.
They reached the conclusion during the region’s stakeholders’ security summit held at Theophilus Ogunlesi Hall, opposite the main gate of University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo State on Tuesday. The summit was organised by Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission.
The governors highlighted the security challenges in the region and how people the area have been living in fear, saying state police should be the major panacea to the security menace.
The summit was attended by governors Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), and Seyi Makinde (Oyo).
Fayemi, who is the Chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), urged security agencies to rid the land of crimes, saying security of people should not be politicised. He also warned against demonising any ethnic group.
Speaking on the need for state police, he stated: “Our advocacy for state policing or local policing is not tantamount to the removal of federal police. That is not what we are asking for. Federal police can exist side by side with state police and local police.”
Fayemi said it is the practice in almost everywhere there is federal system, saying the insinuation that South West does not want the federal police to exist is untrue. He added that there would be definition of duties such as cases that federal police should handle, and local cases the state police should handle.
He also advocated effective coordination among commands within a security agency as well as effective coordination of inter-agency collaborations.
Oyo State governor, Makinde, noted that it is the responsibility of governors in the South West, “to ensure that everyone in our midst, indigene or alien is assured of security of their life and property. We also know that there are barriers preventing us from carrying out this constitutional responsibility to the fullest measure. One of those barriers is the fact that we do not control the security apparatuses in our states.
“We are grateful that the Federal government is finally giving due consideration to the creation of state police. You will agree with me that the advantages of community policing far outweighs whatever fears people may be expressing against it. We have reached that point in our national consciousness where we can no longer tarry; the time to act is now!
“There can be no development without a secure environment. The minimum requirement for the South West region is to be able to work, live and play in a secure environment.”
Ondo State governor, Akeredolu, who is the chairman of South West Governors’ Forum, indicated that some security agents have allegedly been conniving with criminals to perpetrate the evil, saying: “The South Western states must ensure that their strategies are harmonised to achieve a common purpose. We cannot afford to work in isolation at this momentous. Our ultimate aim must be the socio-economic integration of the region, which reflects our collective aspirations for a peaceful and prosperous environment.
“As we seek to collaborate to combat a common challenge, it should also not be tasking for those of us in the saddle to begin to think of the socio-economic benefits accruable from working together to make our region less dependent, almost solely, on external sources for survival.
“Our collective goal should be the security of our space and safety of our people in all ramifications. On this, there should be no compromise. We must, consequently, be proactive in tackling the current security issues. The adoption of a scientific approach towards the resolution of the current crisis will bear far-reaching effects.”
Osun State governor, Oyetola, noted that for the South West to achieve its goal of security delivery, the states in the region “must collaborate and share information to collectively secure our people.
“Our security chiefs also need to share information among themselves while also doing the same with their contemporaries across the states. Technology is at the heart of modern security delivery. We must invest heavily in technology to be ahead and to win the war.
“As we are all aware, security wars are fought and won on the altars of intelligence gathering, planning and implementation. I urge us all to be strong in these critical areas so that, together, we can deliver peace, security and prosperity to our people.
“The nation is grossly under-policed and the police force is sorely underfunded. Contrary to the United Nations’ ratio requirement of one policeman to 400 citizens, the Nigeria Police has less than 400, 000 officers to cover 180 million people. The force said it needs 155,000 more men to police the nation’s population. The implication of the above is that we need to recognise this situation as an emergency and treat it as such. The police should be adequately funded and provided with enough personnel and other logistics support to do their job.
“Perhaps on account of the security challenges that we face today, there might be no better time to revisit the call for state police as local officers are better suited to secure our communities.
“However, the security agents are squarely battling the current security breaches. But given better support, they can do more. We must sensitise our people through our traditional and community leaders to live in peace with herdsmen and other settlers.”
Lagos State governor, Sanwo-Olu, called for the engagement of teachers, parents, and community leaders to ensure that community policing becomes one of the very strong bedrocks that could be used to set issues around security.
“For us as South West governors, we believe that community policing is the way to go, neighbourhood policing is one of the critical points that we need to have, and it can work side by side with federal police,” he said.
Ogun State governor, Abiodun, who said each of the states in the region has peculiarities in the area of security, advocated a clear roadmap to the security of the region and the nation, as well as periodic reviews to evaluate achievements.
Also in attendance at the summit were the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams; and National Coordinator of Agbekoya, Alhaji Ahmed Olasunkanmi.
Traditional rulers across the Yoruba land graced the occasion. They included Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, Oba Rufus Aladesanmi; Olugbo of Ugboland, Oba Obateru Akintuntan and Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi; Elemure of Emure Ekiti, Saki Arigidi of Akoko in Ondo State and Ogoga of Ikere-Ekiti, among others.
The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Muhammed Adamu, was represented by a Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Taiwo Lakanu.
The Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone 11, comprising Oyo, Osun and Ondo states, Mr. Leye Oyebade; first professor of criminology in Nigeria and member of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Femi Odekunle; and a professor of History and Head, Department of History, University of Ibadan, Tayo Adesina, were among speakers at the summit.