There are increased cases of killings in the country by alleged armed herdsmen which is unabated. SOLOMON AYADO writes on the politics hampering a strenghtened security system against the backdrop of the clamour for the creation of State Police.
When the wanton killings initially started, not a few people believed that it was momentary. Many people thought that security agencies could surmount the challenge with a magic wand owing to the swiftess expected of them.
Somehow, what began like a pocket of attacks eventually metamorposed into ugly situation that we have at the moment, seemingly insurmountable. The security agencies appear helpless and the government at the center is obviously caught in the web of dirty politics, apparently playing games with the lives of the citizenry as can be seen in the body language, which displays lack of capacity to tackle or end the killings in a more serious and drastic manner.
As it can be seen in several parts of the country, gruesome killings by armed bandits masquerading as herdsmen have become an everyday occurence. There is no satisfactory efforts from both the government and security operatives in abating it. The people are living in palpable fear and scores are being displaced from their ancestral homes everyday with collosal damage to lives and property.
The situation at the moment is that no one is safe anywhere in the country. The people are further divided across ethnic and political lines. The unity of the country has been greatly affected and there are fears that if the situation is not carefully handled, the country may be heading for precipe.
At the same time, what the teeming masses expect from the government is reponsiveness and a high sense of responsibility to protect the lives of the citizens.
However, pundits are of the opinion that the expectaion may not be met as there is no corresponding effort from relevant authorities to secure lives and give hope to the people.
To other alternatives, the people have embraced agitations and readily resorting to self help for personal defense. The implication is that proliferation of illegal arms have become rampant and the situation is fast becoming uncontrollable.
Also, the three arms of government – the legislature, executive and judiciary – are insistent on working out proactive measures to proffer lasting solutions to the surging internal security challeges.
It started with the National Assembly. Apart from holding several closed-door sessions to discuss and evolve meaningful ways to end the killings, it proceeded with the invitation of Service Chiefs for interface in order to digest the actual causes and why the killings remain prolonged. Some security chiefs honoured the invite while the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, repeatedly shunned the lawmakers.
With the non-appearance of the IGP before the lawmakers coupled withe the bizarre excuse by Defense Minister, Mansur Dan-Ali, that the killings by herdsmen were caused by the enactment of anti-open grazing law in the affected states, and also, the reported admonition by President Muhammadu Buhari that the affected citizens should rather ‘learn to accommodate and cohabit’ with the percieved killers, the victims have concluded that the killings are either propelled or sponsored. Although the claims are however not yet verified.
Meanhwile, against the backdrop of the prevailing security situation in the country, one solution that is the most touted and in the front burner of public discourse now is the issue of State Police.
Not a few Nigerians are currently advocating for the establishment of State Police. Restrospectively, during the last security summit organised by the National Assembly in February, 2018, the creation of State Police as a way out dominated their delibrations.
Senate President and chairman of NASS, Dr. Bukola Saraki, during the gathering attested to the fact that State Police would be the solution to end the killings.
Also, governors of the 36 states of the federation, who were part of the summit as stakehokders, had also announced their endorsement of the idea of State Police, saying it was the only answer to the spetre of insecurity in the country.
Specifically, the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) led by Zamfara State governor, Abdulaziz Yari, declared that the establishment of State Police by the states of the federation was the panacea to the current security challenges in the country.
Yari, who spoke to journalists at the end of a session in company of his Adamawa State counterpart, Jibrilla Bindow, had said the idea of the State Police was long overdue.
Although the forum, however, noted that the establishment of state police was optional since not all states can afford the financial muscle to fianance it.
Also, few days ago, precisely on Sunday, July 1, 2018, Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, said that he had concluded arrangements to sponsor a Bill that would decentralise the nation’s policing system, noting that only State Police will end the killings.
According to media reports, Ekweremadu had however described the current system as “dysfunctional and unsuitable for a federal system.”
According to him, the Bill will also address the fears of Nigerians opposed to State Police. Just like the judiciary, he noted that the Bill will provide for a central police service commission and also structure the state police services in ways that immune them from abuse by any governor or state.
He spoke during an interactive session with Fulbright Scholars, Exchange Scholars, and Graduate Students at the International Centre for Information and Nelson Mandela Institute of Research in his maiden lecture as a Professor and Senior Mentoring Scholar, E-Governance and Strategic Government Studies, Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy and Social Sciences, Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA.
Ekweremadu said: “Unlike here in the United States where the component states, counties, big institutions set up police service to address their local needs, the Nigerian constitution vests the security of a very vast, multifarious, and highly populated country in hands of the Federal Government.”
“The internal security of Nigeria depends on one man or woman, who sits in Abuja as the Inspector-General of Police. The governor of a state, though designated as the chief security officer of the state by the constitution, cannot direct the Police Commissioner of his State on security matters. The Commissioner will have to clear with the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, who will clear with a Deputy Inspector-General of Police, who will also clear with the Inspector-General of Police, who may in turn need to clear with the President, who is the Commander-in Chief of the Armed Forces. By the time the clearance comes, if it ever does, it would have been late.
“Nigeria is the only federal system I know, which operates a unitary or centralised policing. Ironically, it was not the case in the beginning. The founding fathers agreed on a federal constitution, which allowed the component units to set up local police organisations. But it was overturned by the military and successive civilian regimes have continued to play the ostrich,” he said ont he way forward.
Ekweremadu continued: “So, despite the failure of previous attempts to decentralise the police during constitution amendments, I will introduce a bill that will bring about state police or decentrliased policing once I return to Nigeria.:
On the chances of the Bill, Ekweremadu said events in recent years had proved beyond reasonable doubt that the current centrliased security system would never help the government to leave up to its primary responsibilities, which he explained as the welfare of the people and the protection of their lives and property.
As tenable as the clamour for State Police is given the nation’s present predicament, it is not however devoid of political intrigues in some quarters.
Interestimgly, the politics is stemmed from vehement resistance to the actualisation of the initiative from several heads of government agencies including the Presidency and some governors even as the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has consistently clamour for State Poloce at relevant fora.
It was gathered that for members of the top echelon of national police, creation of state police would dislocate the absolutate control they have on the policing of states, which comes with bouyant subventions, freebies, perks and allowances.
For the governors, they would be challenged as there may be no sole expenditure of security votes and as such, they will be mandated to fund the system, and not to divert the votes as oftenly done.
The Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, was reported to have warned that Nigeria’s political system is not ripe for State Police. He, instead, called for improved funding for the police to enable them do better.
“I sincerely believe that the Federal Police is still the best for the country and with improved funding the challenges of crime will be addressed.Those agitating for state police should consider the level of our political maturity.It is my sincere believe that once the Police Trust Fund Bill is passed into law, the necessary finances required to effectively police the nation will be available,” police spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, quoted the IGP as saying.
But for his part, the immediate past Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Soloman Arase, decentralisation of the police force to allow the establishment of State Police was an idea that should be allowed to come into fruition.
Arase stated that this would not in any way make the national police under control of the federal government irrelevant.
“When you have community policing, it does not mean absence of formal police. The police officers, who are on ground are supposed to organise that community in such a way that the reporting system is also through the formal policing apparatus you have,” Arase had told Arise News Network.
As it stands, despite the politics being played around the State Police by proponents and opponents of the idea, stakeholders have maintained that it is the only way that will ensure a lasting solution to the menace of killings in the country. Therefore, there is an urgent need for the government to cash in on the recent push provided by the National Assembly as it promised to immediately initiate a constitution amendment process to accomodate the idea of State Police.
At the moment, while political manueverings continue, the three tiers of government are expected to stand firm and ensure that whatever is needed to be done to achieve security of lives and property of the citizenry, and specifically end the wanton killings in the country, should be done and urgently too.
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