The agitation for state police in Nigeria is gradually becoming a national issue due to the prevailing security situation in the country, which is obviously unending.
The idea of State Police is to allow each of the states of the Federation have its own police, thereby abrogating the Nigeria Police Force at the national level by setting their boundaries.
As far back as 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari, in an interview, said he is not convinced about the establishment of State Police because of the inability of governors to meet up with the financial responsibility.
“No, I am not convinced. We should have solved the current insecurity in the North-East and South-South by now. Can the states be able to shoulder the burden of the police? You cannot just give someone guns and ammunition, train him and refuse to pay him, you know what will eventually happen.”
He added that “I want the Nigerian Constitution to be consulted first and see what it says. If it says they should be allowed, then they should be allowed but don’t forget, how many times did we have to release money to states in the name of bailouts to enable them pay salaries?
“How many states are able to pay their workers in time? And you add the police to them? People should look at this matter very well.”
This adds to the loud silence the Federal Government has paid to calls and clamours in recent times.
It is true that the creation of police is an issue of the Constitution, which is the ground norm and the supreme law of the land, according to Section 214(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (3rd Alteration as amended), which says: “There shall be a police force for Nigeria, which shall be known as the Nigeria Police Force, and subject to the provisions of this section, no other police force shall be established for the Federation or any part thereof.”
However, there have been security outfits in that form and operational standards, especially at regional levels and having their spreads in each states, which serves the functions of State Policing. This exposes the many hypocrisies and irony of the subject matter, especially as the Federal Government have refused to accept such an idea, despite several calls from some Nigerians.
Barely all states in the South West currently boasts of the presence of Amotekun, a security outfit for the Yoruba land which seeks to protect the region (including states) against external forces, especially bandits, kidnappers, and criminal herdsmen.
At the 4th meeting of the North-East Governors Forum, earlier this year, there were talks of having a regional security network as the governors also demanded the restructuring of policing in Nigeria.
With the existence of Eastern Security Network (ESN), established by the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, Governors of the South East states went ahead to establish a joint security outfit for the code named Ebube Agu (Wonderful Tiger), with their presence in virtually all states of the region, serving same purpose as State Police should.
In the North, Hisbah has stood its ground for same purpose, despite having a religious setup.
All of these have exposed the hypocrisies of not having a formal State Police by the federal government despite calls and clamour by some governors and major stakeholders.
Lending his voice for restructuring and State Police as a result of the security situation in the country, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, said “I am frustrated in my state. Many governors are frustrated in their states too. We are called chief security officers only in name; but we have no control over the coercive instruments of state. We’re all frustrated; we are almost helpless.”
Major stakeholders have also argued in favour of State Police, citing the fact that the security operatives in Nigeria are overwhelming and overstretched, hence a need for helping hand at the State level.
Meanwhile, a former national chairman of the Labour Party, Mike Omotosho, said: “So, state police have advantages and disadvantages. The problem for me is the political will by leaders to implement what we want; otherwise it would seem you are just scratching the surface without any result.”
According to him, “Either restructuring, state police- all require political will. We can still be great. We need a leader, who can think, bring ideas to solve our problem, not one that would be looking at election results.”