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As the souls of over 40 worshippers massacred on June 5, 2022 at the Saint Francis Catholic Church Owo, Ondo State, 22 of whom were accorded mass burial Friday cried for justice, their death should serve as a wake-up call for those statutorily charged with the responsibility of making laws for good governance, peace, progress and unity in the country to immediately rise up to the challenge of amending the relevant constitutional provisions that will birth State Police in no distant time.
And since the security and welfare of the people remain the fundamental purpose of any government, we demand that lawmakers in the 36 State Houses of Assembly as well as the National Assembly comprising the Senate and the House of Representatives should, as a matter of utmost priority, surmount all obstacles that had hitherto made the creation of multi-policing impossible in order to overhaul the current security architecture which majority of Nigerians now believe has totally failed.
Sadly, it will amount to begging the fact that no where is safe and that lives as well as property threatened more than ever before across the nation’s six geo-political zones today to the worrisome extent that even the military that have been deployed by the Federal Government to assist the Nigeria Police to maintain internal security are both overwhelmed by the insecurity.
We note with concern too that across the South West, South-South, South East, North East, North Central and North West, there have been reported endless killings or kidnappings almost on daily basis, of law-abiding citizens pursuing their legitimate businesses by terrorists, bandits, insurgents, kidnappers and other criminal elements unchallenged by the security agencies sustained by taxpayers money to protect them.
Empirical evidence about these atrocities are not only frightening but had instilled palpable fear in most citizens some of whom are now forced to resort to self-help by illegally arming themselves against the blood-thirsty criminal elements while insecurity continues to take its heavy toll on human activities, thereby threatening the nation’s economy and resulting in untold hardship for the majority.
It is unfortunate that Nigerians are suffering and seem completely helpless under the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari administration that assumed power under the Change mantra to defeat insecurity, combat corruption and turn around the economy.
According to statistics, in Kaduna State alone in the North West, no fewer than 360 persons were killed between January and March this year through banditry and communal clashes, while 1,389 others were kidnapped during the period under review with the murderers and kidnappers still on the prowl.
Besides, it is also a truism that passengers abducted in the Abuja-Kaduna train attack in March are still in the terrorists’ enclave even though some of them, who could afford the ransom, have breathed air of freedom in addition to the very few released on compassionate ground.
The point we are making here is that the worsening insecurity must not be allowed to degenerate or fester any longer by state actors who should do the needful by not shirking their duties apparently for selfish motives because of the inherent dangers such portends not only for the estimated 200 million Nigerians, the black race but for the global community.
Similarly, lamentations over the daily blood-letting of innocent people including children and women by non- state actors has proven unhelpful in addressing the situation which is why the imperatives of establishing State Police at this juncture far outweigh whatever reservations antagonists of decentralised policing framework including the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, had expressed.
Declaring his stand on the controversial issue at the meeting of the Attorneys-General of the 36 States of Nigeria held in Lagos Thursday, Malami, reportedly stated that “State Police will not work because state Governors would abuse it, look at the way they treat local government, imagine what will happen if they control the Police”, adding that the latter cannot continue agitation for restructuring and State Police when they are responsible for the compromise and mismanagement of the current system as well as lack the moral authority to demand restructuring, while usurping the powers of council chairmen.
We recalled vividly that the number one law officer was responding to a strong case for comprehensive restructuring of the federation particularly in respect to timely devolution of power and the creation of State Police in the wake of rising insecurity in the country by grieving Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, a SAN, and former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, who was the chief mourner at the mass burial of the murdered Catholic faithful on Friday.
Akeredolu, who delivered the keynote address at the meeting, had insisted pointedly that the Police have failed woefully in their constitutional role of protecting Nigerians and that if the situation does not improve, citizens would be left with no other option than to arm themselves in self-defence, adding: “We will carry arms very soon.There is no other way.”
Continuing, he declared: “The current spate of insecurity in the country leaves us with no room for equivocation on the right of the states to maintain law and order through the establishment of State Police. The growing distrust in the polity is a direct result of the disconnect between the Federal Government and the constituent units of the country. The economic adversity currently experienced in the country points directly at the defective political structure. A unitary system cannot work successfully in a country like Nigeria”.
We are fully convinced that these issues canvassed by Akeredolu though not entirely new, are at the heart of Nigeria’s current predicaments and totally disagree with Malami for obviously missing the point and insisting that full autonomy for local government should be a precondition for the creation of State Police. This is not only insensitive but unbecoming of the Attorney-General who should know that the country is held captive by the rampaging criminals with no clear solution by government in sight.
Significantly also, argument that Governors would abuse State Police upon its establishment in our view, no longer holds any water considering that no perfect security network exists any where globally. The concern of the Federal Government and stakeholders, therefore, should be to put in place all necessary checks and balances by overhauling the Nigerian Police Council in making the proposed decentralized policing system work ultimately for the good of all as well as safety of lives and property any where in the country.
In other words, the current comatose Nigerian Police Council should be rejuvenated to operate maximally just like the National Judicial Council in the discipline and promotion of officers of the would-be State Police to guide against envisaged excesses, lapses or abuses rather than only meet to approve the appointment of the Inspector-General of Police already appointed by the President.
Towards this end, we wish to remind Malami of recent revelations by the Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Dr. Kayode Fayemi, that Governors spend security votes in funding the federal police, military, civil defence and other security outfits, insisting that “State Governors fund police more than the Federal Government. We buy them vehicles and we pay them allowances. In some cases, we even buy ammunitions, of course, under the same federal system”.
According to him, “And if we are to engage our military in aid to civil authority, which you will find actually in 36 states in this country today, the military is involved in internal security operations, which really is a problem”.
Therefore, argument that Governors will not be able to raise the needed funds to meet financial obligations to personnel of State Police is lame duck and untenable in view of the foregoing as money spent on the federal Police will be channeled to such security outfit.
In similar vein, we wish to commend the recent patriotic move by the House of Representatives which recently resolved to provide a legislative framework for the establishment of State Police in the 1999 Constitution (as amended). The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion of urgent national importance on the killing of innocent worshippers in Owo, sponsored by Hon. Adelegbe Oluwatimehin.
It is, therefore, necessary and in the national interest that the Senate and Houses of Assembly in the 36 States should join forces with members of the Green Chamber by striving to end the current unitary Police operating in a Federal Republic and achieve a multi-level policing; comprising State Police and Federal Police in the first instance.
We further advocate the setting up of the relevant regulatory authority thereafter that will be responsible for discipline and sanctioning of those who break the laws or engage in any misconduct like what obtained in similar federations globally.
To avert possible collapse of the country and against the backdrop of ominous signs of a failing state, time has come for Nigerians to tackle headlong one of the unending crises created by the 1999 Constitution (as amended) through another amendment of the document for the survival of democracy and Nigeria.
As a matter fact, we recommend that the issues of true federalism, restructuring and State Police should dominate the manifestos and campaigns of the existing 18 political parties from August when real electioneering would commence for the electorate to be properly guided on their choices ahead of 2023 general elections. These should form part of the core agenda of the incoming government from May 29 next year in the unlikely event that the 9th Assembly failed to accomplish the needed amendment. Enough of procrastination over the creation of State Police.
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