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Revisiting calls for state police

Revisiting calls for state police
May 13
21:17 2021

BY JONATHAN NDA-ISAIAH

Recently, the clamour and calls for state police have grown louder as the country is beset by security challenges on all sides.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Monday had advocated the creation of state police, border protection council, and devolution of powers to address the spike in insecurity in the country.

Similarly, the governors of the 17 southern states in Nigeria have also demanded the creation of state police.

Sadly, insecurity in the country is at an all-time high. Every region of the country is suffocating from insecurity. Presently in the south-east and south-south, policemen and formations are endangered species as they are daily killed and targeted, raising fears of another insurgency brewing in the region.

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In the north-east, Boko Haram insurgents are still sacking villages and causing havoc. In the north-west and north-central, bandits have made life a living hell for residents and villages.

The question most Nigerians ask is how did we get here? How did life become so cheap in Nigeria? Daily newspapers are awash with gory tales of deaths in almost every part of the country.

Many Nigerians have suggested the creation of state police as a way out. Do I think it will solve the issue? It might.

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I also do not share the idea of regional security forces springing up in different regions. If the only way we will feel secured is retreating into our ethnic cocoons, then the country is heading to anarchy.

The fears about state police are not far-fetched. Most Nigerians believe our governors will abuse the state police, which I also believe.

For example, the state electoral commissions and legislature are in the pockets of the governors. In states, you dare not question the policies of the governor. Most senators who had criticised their state governors lost their reelection bids.

It’s funny how during a crisis, governors lament that they are not in control of the state police but when it comes to rigging or arresting journalists and opposition figures in their states, they are in control of the police.

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So what’s the way out? Insanity, they say, is doing the same thing all the time and expecting different results. I think we should tinker a little with our police system. I also do not believe that funding the police will improve the force. If you give the whole defence budget to the police, they will still ask for me N20 bribe. It’s already in their DNA.

Sadly, the police force as presently constituted cannot solve insecurity. We need to tinker with the constitution to create state police. We should have state police, and federal police which will serve as a check to the state police. We also need to strengthen and build our institutions that can check the excess of some of our power-drunk governors. This is the way to go.

Jonathan Nda-Isaiah, political director at LEADERSHIP Newspapers, can be reached via 08061573299.

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