The clamour for establishment of state owned police outfits as a way of decentralising the over centralised Nigeria security architecture, which to many, has failed in tackling the security challenges in the land reached its crescendo last Thursday with similar clamour by no less a person than Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. TAIYE ODEWALE examines the issues.
The Vice President made the suggestion at the just ended two day security summit organised by the senate. Though there are issues surrounding the clamour: constitutional hurdles that must be overcome to get it done. Besides, there are reasonable fears being entertained by some Nigerians on the likelihood of the proposal sailing through.
Though clamour for creation of state controlled police outfits has been made at different times since the beginning of current democratic dispensation in 1999 by advocates of decentralized federation otherwise called true federalism, but the intensity of the clamour has not been as persistent and loud as it is in recent time due to wanton killings in the land that seem to have overwhelmed the centralised security architecture of the country.
In recent times, the first to start the clamour were senators who raised the issue during debate on the floor of the senate on a motion on series of the wanton killings in the land specifically the one that claimed about 200 lives in Zamfara.
In the motion sponsored by Senator Tijanni Kaura (APC Zamfara North), from the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, to other senators across party lines, called for state police but declaring that the centralised security architecture of the country has failed.
Specifically, Ekweremadu, who declared that the killings in the land was assuming an alarming proportion requiring any emergency they deserve, said the issue of creation of state police should be urgently revisited because according to him, it has become very necessary now .
He said: “The killings that are going on in Nigeria have assumed an alarming proportion and very disturbing. It is taking the dimension of football competition, where there are marches and return marches.
“What we have here in Nigeria are situations of killings and then retaliations as expected and as a responsible parliament we must rise to the situation by saying enough is enough. I don’t expect us to sit down here and not doing anything. Nigerians expect us not only to say something but do something.
“This brings me to the most important section 14(2b) of constitution and that section of the constitution is saying that the principal purpose of government is the provision of security and welfare of the people.
“For us to fill the impart of the what we should do and if you read section 42 of the constitution, we should have peace and security before we begin to talk of infrastructure and this is where the need for state police comes in.
“ it is time for us to see how it has worked in other countries of the world and by so doing more Nigerians would be secured.”
Others senators who spoke after him from Senator Kabiru Marafa (APC Zamfara Central), the Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, Sam Anyanwu, Barnabas Gemade, George Akume etc, also concurred to the need for constitution amendment for accommodation of state police.
State Police as current reality
Akpabio in his own submission said the country cannot be doing the same thing over the years and expect different results, saying the era of centralised policing is gone for a country like Nigeria based on realities on ground.
In his own contribution, Senator Shehu Sani (APC Kaduna Central), told his colleagues to call a spade a spade, by declaring that President Buhari as the Commander-in-Chief of the nation’s armed forces should be told the bitter truth of his non-performance in ensuring security of lives and property of Nigerians .
“This is not the time for diplomacy and courtesy. This is the time to provide leadership for a nation that is in national emergency and national distress. Let the president wake up and protect the country. We are living in a country where there is complicit reward for violence.
“Things are not going right in this country, we are failing, people are dying in their thousands, kidnappings, violence. The president should rise up to the occasion. We are shifting blames trying to invade the truth. We cannot solve this problem, Nigerian political class and the political establishments are more interested in the 2019 general elections than the lives of our people. They are more interested in the INEC timetable”
The Senate, accordingly, set up an ad-hoc committee on review of the nation’s security architecture under the leadership of Senator Ahmad Lawan (APC Yobe North).
Like an idea whose time has come, as the committee was still planning on what report to submit to the senate on resumption this January, another round of wanton killings allegedly perpetrated by suspected Fulani herdsmen took place again in Benue State where 73 farmers lost their lives, which led to another round of debate on the floor of the senate on way out with calls for state police dominating the debate again.
Apparently to widen the horizon of the debates on review of the security architecture in Nigeria, the senate, after the Benue killings, mandated its ad-hoc committee to organise a national security summit where all stakeholders in the polity would gather to ventilate their opinions.
Strikingly at the opening ceremony of the summit last week Thursday, the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who represented the presidency pointedly declared that the centralised police in Abuja cannot in anyway provide the required security to the nooks and crannies of the country.
His words: “The nature of our security challenges is complex. Securing Nigeria’s over 923,768 square kilometres and its 180 million people, requires far more men and materials than we have at the moment. It also requires a continual re-engineering of our security architecture and strategies.
“This has to be a dynamic process. For a country our size to meet the one policeman to 400 persons UN prescribed ratio, would require nearly tripling our current police force, far more funding of the police, military and security agencies is required. We cannot realistically police a country the size of Nigeria centrally from Abuja. State Police and other community policing methods are clearly the way to go.
“We must also intensify existing collaboration with our neighbours in the Chad Basin, especially border communities to prevent the movement of small arms, and disarming armed pastoralists and bandits who go through our borders day after day’.
Is the demand realistic?
However, as loud as the clamour for state police may be for now, is not something that can just be put in place in form of policy statement but rather through constitutional amendments.
The questions then are, are members of the National Assembly ready for such an amendment now, especially in a year preceding the next general elections? Even if they do, what about fears being entertained by some other Nigerians that such an innovation in our security architecture may be abused by state governors?
Time, as usually said, will tell what would eventually happen after the ongoing strident clamour for establishment of state police. IGP Idris and Reps’ verdict
It was on Wednesday, February 7, this year, that the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Ibrahim Idris, at three different instances in the House of Representatives, received knocks over his utterances in the wake of the herdsmen and farmers’ clashes, and other security challenges in the country. JOSHUA EGBODO reports
Police hierarchy under attack
The Police Public Relations Officer (PRO), Mr. Jimoh Moshood, was also not spared, for daring to go on air during a breakfast televise programme to call the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom a “drowning man” who should resign. The comment did not go down well with the generality of Nigerians who reasoned that Jimoh was not only dabbling into the political terrain but has completely lost focus and bereft of professionalism. Rightly or wrongly some think in a saner society the likes of Jimoh would not have been at such a sensitive office as the imagemaker of the nation’s police.
Therefore, the House after passing a vote- of-no confidence on Idris, also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack him for unprofessionalism in his conducts. The thinking is that the sack of the IGP, who seems to have led the unnecessary verbal war against the National Assembly, would lay the marker for subsequent act.
First to vent its anger against the IGP that day was the Benue State Caucus in the House. Led at a media briefing by Hon. John Dyegh, the group demanded an unreserved apology from the IGP to the Benue State Governor over Moshood’s on-air derogatory comments, as well as urged President Buhari to remove the IGP to serve as deterrent to others who may want to bleach their professional lines.
Herders’ killings, a conspiracy?
The group said it was compelled to draw attention of the entire world to “the grand conspiracy and orchestrated plot by some top and unscrupulous security officials of the federal government to manipulate the nation’s security apparatus for the purposes of emasculating the people and government of Benue State in order to sustain the killings by herdsmen”.
Further, the Caucus recalled that barely a week after the Minister of Defence, Brig. Gen. Mansur Mohammed Dan-Ali (rtd) “stunned the whole world by openly taking sides with the killer herdsmen in declaring that the ceaseless killings of innocent and hapless citizens of Benue state, was caused by the implementation of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, enacted by the state House of Assembly, the IGP Ibrahim Idris appearing before the Senate Committee on Police Affairs, repeated the same thing; the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Jimoh Moshood on Tuesday further exposed the partisanship of the Nigeria Police”.
Continuing, it said “This Caucus want to state without mincing words that having digested and assimilated the evil campaign and nauseating utterances of the Minister of Defence and the IGP, which are capable of aggravating the fragile security situation in the State; and having watched and listened to the PPRO, it is now clear that the ongoing pogrom in Benue State is not a consequence of the Anti-Grazing Law or any communal clash, but a well-crafted plot by the killer herdsmen working in cahoots with some partisan and shameless security officers to perpetuate the genocidal war against the peace-loving people.
“We call on the security agencies to arrest and prosecute the leaders of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore for their indictment in the killings in the state. We call on the Police to restrict itself to its constitutional role of maintaining law and order and leave politics for politicians”.
Police and glaring deficiencies
The group’s position was re-echoed later on the floor, by Hon. Mark Gbillah who through a motion moved under matters of urgent public importance, praying the House, to among other things, instruct the IGP to provide unreserved apology to Governor Ortom, as well as for him to relieve Moshood of the position of the Force PRO.
Gbillah expressed concerns that a spokesman of a security agency saddled with the responsibility of providing security for the lives and property of all Nigerians, could publicly disparage a duly elected representative of an institution of government in the manner Moshood had done.
While the motion was adopted by the House, yet another one was moved by Hon. Nuhu Danburam, still on the police and its inability to address issues of politically sponsored thuggery in Kano State and other parts of the country.
While debate on the motions lasted, several members queried the manner in which authority of the police had over time deviated from being professional, as references were made to the action of a sitting IGP, who in a bid to please his paymasters almost prevented former Speaker, now Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal from gaining entry into the chamber, and members almost suffocated with teargas canisters.
Danburam had initially prayed the House to pass a resolution, summoning the IGP and Kano State Commissioner of Police to appear and explain why they could not address the rising thuggery in the state, but members were swayed to recommend an amendment to pass a vote of no confidence on the police boss, with an added resolution at he be replaced by Buhari, with an IGP “who will be more professional in the discharge of his duties…”.
It is though not likely that President Buhari would act in line with the call, but to many, the verdict of the House should be a huge burden on the IGP.