BY TUNDE OGUNTOLA, Abuja, DANJUMA JOSEPH, Lafia, ANGELA NKWO-AKPOLU, Owerri, AZA MSUE, Kaduna, JOHN MKOM, Jalingo, ACHOR ABIMAJE, Jos
The growing insecurity across the country is clea- ring the ground for the adoption of state police with the federal government and state governors being in agreement on the need for it.
The minister of infor mation and culture, Lai Mo- hammed, said the outcome of several town hall meetings on security across Nigeria showed that there was a consensus to have state police and that this resolution would be presented to
the meeting of National Economic Council (NEC) in Ab- uja today.
Just yesterday, the federal government said that the- re was the need for the establishment of state police to address the nation’s security challenges.
This is just as some state governments declared their support for the federal government’s position on the matter.
Some state governors had already taken the initiative to set up local security networks codenamed ‘Amotekun’ in the Southwest states and, recently, ‘Ebube Agu’ in the Southeast.
While speaking at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) flagship interview programme, NANForum yesterday in Abuja, Lai Mohammed said during the recent town hall meetings on national security organised by the federal government in Kaduna State, it was recommended that state police should be supported by the National Assembly as well as the Houses of Assembly in states.
The minister at the meeting made the recommendation based on the consensus that state police would give governors better leverage in the handling of security issues within their domains.
Mohammed noted that the recommendations from the town hall meeting held on April 8 in Kaduna would be presented to the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting today.
NEC is a decision-making body presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and has all the 36 governors, FCT minister, and some ministers as members.
The minister also disclosed that the town hall meeting recommended decentralisation and reformation of the judiciary, adding that this should be done through a constitutional amendment.
Autonomy for local go- vernments, he said, was also adopted at the town hall meeting.
“Another resolution is that every level of government must ensure that every child of school age has compulsory and free primary education.
The minister noted that the call for compulsory and free education was reinforced at the meeting.
Mohammed added that acquiring basic education would help in reducing banditry, kidnapping, insurgency, and other social vices.
The minister added that the town hall meeting, which was robust, allowed the government to hear from the other side of the society.
“Another unique thing is the colour of the attendees in attendance; not just eight ministers, there were governors of Kaduna State and his deputy and governors of Zamfara and Ekiti sent representatives.
“We had representatives of Miyyeti Allah, we had re- presentatives of PANDEF, security chiefs were there, traditional rulers, bishops and Imams.
“We also had women organizations and all major stakeholders that you will expect when discussing the issue of security and national unity,” he said.
Mohammed said it was made clear from the be- ginning that the town hall meeting would not be a talk shop.
He stated that all discussants were tasked to come up with implementable resolutions, adding that sta- keholders did not only highlight security challenges but also proffered solutions.
The minister noted that though the last town hall meeting was the 18th April his ministry had held since he came on board, the Kaduna forum on national security was unique.
He said the meeting was well attended by people from all walks of life with panelists drawn from the academia, private sector, and civil society.
In the same vein, Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State has declared total support for the creation of state police.
The governor who spoke through his senior special adviser on media and publi- city, Bala Dan Abu, stated this while responding to in- quiries from our correspondent.
Abu said his boss had been one of the first advo- cates of peace among the Nigerian governors’, which he said could only be achieved through adequate security architecture.
He stated that only the creation of state police in Nigeria would reflect true federalism which will, in turn, reduce crime within the lo-calities of Nigeria.
The governor further stated that it was also the state police that, if created, would give the real meaning to the name of the governors as chief security officers of their states.
“True federalism demands that all the three structures of government should have security.
We have copied our federal system from America, why are we not practiing it as the Americans do?”
Also, an aide to Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai said his principal’s stand on the establishment of state police had not not change, maintaining that there are not enough poli- cemen in the country.
Speaking with our correspondent in Kaduna, the aide, who spoke on condi tion of anonymity, said the governor’s position on state police was also contained in the APC true federalism committee report chaired by el-Rufai.
“El-Rufai’s position on the establishment of the state police stands; he has not changed his mind on the creation of state police which he believes will solve the security challenges we are facing.”
The governor had recently, during the presenta- tion of the state’s 2020 Annual Security Repor, held at the Government House, Kaduna, said the existing cen tralised policing system was inadequate, insisting that the arrangement should be replaced with state police and other levels of policing.
He had said: “In our view, critical to multiplying and reinforcing state power is decentralization of policing.
“There simply are not enough policemen in Nige- ria and the idea of policing such a vast, federal republic of nearly a million square ki- lometres in a unitary man- ner is not pragmatic.”
The Plateau State commissioner for information and communication,, Hon. Dan Majang, while speaking with our correspondent via telephone, explained that the state government was in support of community policing, adding that Operation Rainbow had the semblance of state police even though the law governing its opera- tion has limitations.
According to him, what the state is interested in is community policing, stres- sing that recently over 500 youth were trained in Makurdi as constabulary for community policing and on their return were posted to the 17 LGAs of the state where there have been helping with intelligence gathering.
But in sharp contrast, Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State recently expressed doubts that the establishment of state police will curtail insecurity in the country.
In his view, if Nigeria Police and other security agencies have been unable to solve security challen- ges over the years, there is no certainty that state police would perform the magic.
Effort to get the position of Edo State government on state police was unsuccessful as a short message sent to top government of- ficials were not replied.
However, a top security government official who does not want his name in print said the government has put in place commu- nity policing structures in place and had recruited over 2,000 police constabulary to address the shortfall in po- lice personnel.
“We have activated com- munity network and have divided Edo into divisions and zones. These groups are to take charge to comple- ment and synergize the ef- fort of other security agen- cies in the state.
On its part, the lmo Sta- te government said it would support whatever strat- egy the federal government came up with to confront the insurgency and other forms of security challen- ges confronting the country.
This position was made known by the commissio- ner for information and stra- tegy, Hon. Declan Emelum- ba, while interacting with LEADERSHIP.
According to him, the nation is passing through a challenging period in terms of security and this is the time to think outside the box, to confront this mon- ster frontally and restore peace and tranquility to the land.
He charged the citizens to contribute meaningful- ly to the realisation of sta- te police which, if properly handled, would help in re- storing a peaceful environ- ment for the citizenry.