Recently, the Northern Governors’ Forum (NoGF) called for the urgent establishment of state police to address the rising spate of insecurity across the country. In their opinion, recent happenings in the polity indicate that there is a compelling need for it at this time.
Chairman of the Forum and Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, made the call at the 27th Nigerian Economic Summit during a panel discussion on ‘Removing the Binding Constraints to Security: The Sub-national Perspective’.
In his remarks he pointed out that “from the point of view of the North, initially, we were always against state police, but recent happenings have confirmed that there is a problem. And that problem, first, the number of police and capacity is not there. Our population has increased, and to every population increase, you must also increase the recruitment to meet up with that number. But for many years now, no recruitment of policemen”. Similarly, the governors of the 17 southern states in Nigeria had earlier this year also demanded the creation of state police.
This Newspaper has consistently advocated the establishment of state police and our views have not changed. If anything, the call by the governors across the political spectrum reinforces our argument that state police is the answer to the nagging security issues besetting the country.
Although all parts of the country are experiencing one form of insecurity or the other, the northern part of the country has become the epicenter of insecurity with Boko Haram terrorists wreaking havoc in the northeast geopolitical zone while bandits are on the rampage in the North west and North central geopolitical zones. In these areas, kidnapping for ransom and killing of innocent citizens have become the order of the day.
Regrettably, in our opinion, Nigerians are inundated daily with reports of mindless killings and abductions by these angels of death with the security agencies seemingly overwhelmed offer a counterforce scarcely strong enough to assuage the fears and anxieties the populace feel.
It is instructive to note that the Kaduna state government had said recently that a total of 343 people were killed, while 830 others were abducted by bandits between July and September 2021 in the state alone. Also, In the preceding two quarters, between January and June, a total of 545 people were killed while 1,723 others were abducted by bandits.
As if this record was not bad enough, recently, bandits invaded a market in Goronyo Local Government Area of Sokoto State, killing over 80 people. The bandits had also kidnapped over 500 school children in the northwest and north-central in the last two years. The bandits in Zamfara now go as far as collecting protection money from communities and the ones that fail to comply are attacked mercilessly.
According to the 2018 Global Terrorism Index, Nigeria ranked as the third most terrorized country in the world after Iraq and Afghanistan. Also, governors under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum recently disclosed that between May 2011 and February 2021, over 76,000 deaths were reported under these circumstances.
There is no doubt that insecurity in Nigeria is at an all-time high and a different approach is needed to tame the scourge. Most Nigerians have expressed the view that state governors might abuse State police. We may wish to assume without conceding that this is enough justification not to try that approach. Still, we consider it inappropriate for the fear of the unknown to deny the country of the benefits of state police system. There may be a few bad eggs just as there are in the federal police, that is not a good reason to ditch the only practicable way of solving the insecurity problems bedeviling the country right now.
This Newspaper contends, and very strongly too, that the country needs to build strong institutions to serve as effective checks and balances on any perceived excesses by state and or non-state actors.
In our considered opinion, the federal police can work alongside the state police to serve as checks. We are of the view that a nation of 200 million people cannot be effectively secured using a central police system. It is common knowledge that most states are struggling to pay salaries. For now, we can start the establishment of state police in stages. We believe buoyant states like Lagos, Kano, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Delta can start the state police and other states can follow later. It makes no sense to stick to the current policing system which has not worked effectively for the past 50 years. We have no illusion that the federal police system can effectively tackle the problems of insecurity generally.
In view of the foregoing, we call on President Muhammadu Buhari to, as a matter of urgency, send an executive bill to the National Assembly for the creation of state police as this will go a long way in reducing, considerably, the rate of insecurity in the country.