In order to curb the worsening insecurity across the country, the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, recently restated the case for the creation of state police. The Vice President, who made the call at a recent international conference on Patriotism, Security, Governance and National Development, argued that a decentralised police force will help to check the current security challenges in the country.
According to Osinbajo, “we must accept that there is a need for greater decentralisation of the police force. I have been a frequent advocate of state policing and I believe this certainly must be the way we must go.”
This is not the first time that Osinbajo would be calling for the creation of state police. Besides, many other prominent Nigerians have made similar calls for the establishment of state police as one of the strategies to ensure the security of the country. Senator Ike Ekweremadu recently canvassed strongly the establishment of state police. He had challenged his colleagues and the National Assembly on this, saying that the constitution could be amended in 10 days to legalise state police.
It is also not the first time the Federal Government would be mooting the idea of having another level of policing to complement the Nigeria Police Force. The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) had the creation of state police as one of its agenda during the 2015 campaign. Unfortunately, the government has prevaricated between creation of state police and community policing. We believe that this is the time the government should take a firm stand on the issue.
Whichever way it is looked at, the current reality has proven that the current system of policing in the country is not working. That is probably why insecurity is on the rise. It can also explain why terrorists, bandits, killer herdsmen and kidnappers have not been effectively caged. There is no way the present centralised policing can guarantee effective security in the country, especially when the number of policemen is a far cry from the required personnel.
Without doubt, the present central police arrangement is enormously encumbered by inadequate personnel and equipment. With less than 400,000 personnel, there is no way the Nigeria police can ensure adequate security throughout the country with 36 states and 774 local government areas. The poor numerical strength of the force is responsible for ineffective policing of the country. That is why it is difficult to protect many communities across the country. The heinous activities of the rampaging bandits in some parts of the North can be traced to inadequate policing and proliferation of unprotected spaces.
The situation has led to the recent mindless abduction of school children in Katsina, Niger and Zamfara states by bandits. Some villages in Kaduna, Nasarawa and other states in the North have been attacked by the bandits. The Boko Haram insurgents have equally renewed their criminal attacks on soft targets in Borno and Yobe states. Even in places where the police are present, they lack adequate knowledge of the culture and terrain of those areas. They also do not enjoy the cooperation of the people, who often look at them with suspicion.
To worsen matters, the state governors do not have control over the police formations in their territories as the police commissioners take instructions from the Inspector-General of Police. In times of emergency, the response from the police is usually so slow and ineffective. There is, therefore, an urgent need for an arrangement that allows, at least, three levels of policing: federal, state and community. We can borrow a leaf from the United States and other federal entities where the arrangement works. Since every crime is local, there is need to localise the policing system so that every section will be protected.
State police arrangement is at the heart of the clamour for restructuring of the country. It is consistent with the principle of true federalism and devolution of powers. State policing will ensure that governors effectively maintain law and order in their domains. It will help to tackle the mounting security challenges in the country. Although, there are fears that some governors may abuse the state police, there must also be measures to check such excesses. The advantages of state police are more than the disadvantages. Notwithstanding the perceived shortcomings, the time for state police has come.
Therefore, we urge the government to heed Osinbajo’s call and put measures in place to create state police. We call on the National Assembly to enact relevant legislations that will ensure the creation of state police.