State police: 20 governors’ decisions ready for NEC May – NGF

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The decisions of the remaining 20 state governors on the proposed establishment of state police are expected to be submitted within the next four weeks.

This is according to the Director-General of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Asishana Okauru, who spoke in an exclusive interview with Sunday PUNCH on Friday.

Sixteen state governors had earlier thrown their weight behind the establishment of state police as a panacea for the insecurity ravaging the different parts of the country.

The Senior Special Assistant to the Vice-President on Media and Communication, Stanley Nwkocha, had earlier disclosed in a statement that discussions were held at a meeting of the National Economic Council and that 16 out of the 36 states had already submitted their reports on the state policing initiative.

The NEC received the reports from the 16 governors at its 140th meeting held at the Aso Rock Villa on March 21, 2024.

Nwkocha said there was an expectation that the remaining 20 governors, whose identities were not disclosed, would also submit their reports, stressing that all the states across the country expressed their support for the establishment of state police.

Okauru explained in a telephone conversation with one of our correspondents that the governors were unanimous in their support of the state police.

He added that the remaining 20 governors were already in the process of submitting their reports, and would turn them in a few weeks from now.

According to him, it became clear after the NGF’s last meeting that there was a need for the governors to speed up “whatever report they were putting together in respect of state police and submit it.”

He said, “The official position of the forum is in favour of state police. I don’t know of any state that is not in support of state police. I can tell you that I don’t know of any state not in support of the idea. That the governors have not submitted their reports for now is not saying they are not in support of it (state police).

“They are in the process of submitting their reports and I can tell you that in the next couple of weeks that would have been resolved. This is the only way to go. The forum has come a long way. So, there’s a very strong consensus in support of state police.”

Asked if funding would be a major challenge for the state police, the NGF director-general added that the government should begin to think about innovative ways to fund the security architecture of the country.

“Even the way the police structure is configured, funding is still an issue. So, the funding issue will always be there. In some other countries, the police institution is to some extent revenue-generating. You know, it has revenue-generating potential. I mean, if done well, you know that everybody will agree to it. Let’s accept that the funding issue will always be there whether it is done centrally or you are for state police.

“Another point that must be made is that it is not because some states have not submitted their reports that the idea hasn’t taken off. It became very clear after the last meeting that they needed to speed up whatever report they were putting together in respect of state police and submit it. So, a maximum of about four weeks, and it should be done,” he added.

President Bola Tinubu had on Thursday, February 15, 2024, agreed on the need to establish state police as recommended by state governors to curb rising insecurity in the country.

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, disclosed this to State House correspondents after a meeting between the President and the governors at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

According to him, the possibility of creating a state police structure will be further discussed.

He further said that a lot of work needed to be done, and the President and the governors agreed on working out the modalities for the idea.

In October 2023, the President mooted the idea of increasing the numerical strength of the police, which is just a little over 300,000.

At the end of the Nigeria Police Council conclave, which Tinubu chaired, he set up a Constitutional Review Committee to carry out comprehensive police reforms.

The 2014 National Political Reform Conference recommended devolving policing by allowing states to create their police and enabling community policing.

However, former President Goodluck Jonathan, who initiated the 2014 conference, and his successor, Muhammadu Buhari, did not implement the recommendations despite the deteriorating security situation in the country during their administrations.

Reps plan retreat

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives Committee on Constitution Review will host its first retreat on the State Police Bill and other related bills slated for deliberation ahead of the planned constitutional review.

This is contained in the work plan of the committee obtained by Sunday PUNCH.

The bill seeking to establish state police has passed the second reading in the House of Representatives.

The Deputy Speaker of the House, Benjamin Kalu, and 14 other lawmakers proposed to transfer the term “police” in the 1999 Constitution from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent legislative list.

The bill, which comprises 18 clauses, seeks to amend sections 34, 35, 39, 42, 84, 89, 129, 153, 197, 214, 215 and 216 of the constitution.

On February 15, the Federal Government set up a committee to explore the creation of state police given the worsening spate of insecurity across the country.

The Chairman, House Committee on Rules and Business, Francis Waive, said given the fact that the bill was a constitutional matter, the onus was now on the Constitution Review Committee, which rolled out a two-year work plan to deliberate on state police, local government autonomy, fiscal federalism and other items listed for deliberations in the constitutional amendment process.

“The State Police Bill is a constitutional amendment. After the second reading, it was referred to the Constitution Review Committee like all other constitutional amendments. The committee has rolled out its two-year work plan,” Waive said.

The retreat, which will be held in Abuja later this month, will witness collaborative efforts between the Clerk to the Committee on Constitution Review and the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre.

In May, the committee will engage with stakeholders, including civil society organisations, to collate inputs after which the committee will call for a public hearing

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Yemi Adaramodu, said both chambers of the National Assembly were ready to amend the constitution to accommodate state police if the decentralisation of the security architecture would end kidnapping, banditry, terrorism, and other crimes being experienced in Nigeria.

 Security experts speak

Commenting on the development, a security expert, Akin Adeyi, said the adoption of state police was a welcome development and advised the remaining 20 governors to submit their reports as soon as possible.

He added that rather than waiting for the governors to submit reports, the President could submit a bill to the National Assembly for review, while the governors would only append their signatures afterward.

According to him, allowances received by the state governments from the income generated from the removal of fuel subsidy should be enough to fund the state policing initiative.

Adeyi said, “Ordinarily, it’s supposed to be the responsibility of the state governors and state governments, but they are going to complement the effort of the Federal Government. With the removal of subsidy on petrol, there should be enough money on the ground to fund state police. I have that confidence except if the governors are not prudent in managing their resources.

“State police is going to be the best because it is going to be domiciled where the people are living; so automatically I will know you, and you will know me. At least, as a community person, you will not take sides with any judgment.

“I read a report recently that state governors don’t need to write a memo before the matter can be resolved. So, what the Federal Government should do is what a member of the House of Representatives has done. He has submitted a bill to the National Assembly. Let them review the law and that is all. Once the bill is passed by the National Assembly, the state governments will just go there and do their job.”

However, the founder of Beacon Consulting, an Abuja-based security risk management and intelligence consulting firm, Kabir Adamu, said the country was not ready for state police with the current process of governance in the states.

According to him, creating state police is dangerous as it will turn the governors into “mini-emperors.”

He said, “It is indicated in the Renewed Hope Agenda that the Federal Government will decentralise policing. What we don’t know is the form it will take. I do not think we are ready for state police as a country. While there is a need to enhance security at the grassroots, I am worried that if we hand control of policing over to the governors, we are going to have mini-emperors.

“They (governors) are ruling their states like mini-emperors. They have the legislature under their control; they have the judiciary to an extent under their control. So, if you take the instrument of power, which is security, and add to these other components, we will have stronger mini-emperors.”

He, however, said there was a need for the establishment of policies that would improve the democratic culture at the state level where the legislature could effectively check the excess of the executive before policing could be decentralised.

On her part, a professor of Criminology at the Kaduna State University, Evelyn Yusuf, said the creation of state police was important to address the security challenges in the country.

She stated, “State police would have been excellent if the ruling class would allow the personnel to work and not engage them for other things. If there will be no abuse of power, I am in support of state police, because we need more police up to the level of community police to be able to curb the insecurity in Nigeria.

“There should be a policy that will guide against the ruling class using them as political thugs. If that can be done, state police will be fantastic. I recommend community policing more than any form of policing because, within the community, we know ourselves and anyone coming into the community will be easily identified.”

Punch

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