Wanted: State Police, Now

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The raging controversy over the establishment of state police and community policing appears to have been finally settled following the tacit approval to amend the 1999 Constitution by the National Assembly (NASS) to pave way for decentralisation of policing in the country. Till date, the Nigerian Police is centralised.
However, there have been several suggestions and agitations for the establishment of state police which, successive dispensations in the country have been indisposed to and shied away from, due mainly to fears in certain quarters that state governors might hijack it and by so doing, jeopardise national security.
In a motion sponsored recently by Senator Jonah Jang, former Plateau State Governor, the Senate directed its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to come up with a bill for the creation of a Truth, Peace and Reconciliation Commission while police reform should be given expeditious consideration, as a prelude to the establishment of state police.
The bill followed a marathon debate on the wanton killings in several parts of the country and the seeming helplessness of the security agencies, particularly, the centralised police force to combat the ugly trend.
The courage exhibited so far by the National Assembly to pave way for the establishment of state police and community policing is, therefore, commendable and heart-warming, and it is a sure way to address the rising insecurity and mindless killings of innocent citizens and destruction of property, perpetrated by herdsmen and terrorists.
Eminent Nigerians, including civil society organisations and pressure groups had risen in unison and implored the National Assembly and other stakeholders to rise to the occasion by overhauling and restructuring the nation’s security architecture so as to combat what apparently has become a clear and present danger to the continued existence of the Nigerian State.
The Tide strongly believes that state police and community policing have become more inevitable and imperative now than ever before as the federal police system appears overwhelmed by increasing security challenges.
We agree no less with the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu’s position that as long as the country refuses to do the needful in terms of entrenching state police and community policing, the wanton killings and other forms of criminality would never end.
Only recently too, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, worried by the unprecedented and unwarranted attacks on unarmed communities by herdsmen, called for the immediate re-jigging of the nation’s security architecture as the current approach to tackle the security challenges facing the country was no longer effective and functional.
In the same vein, we also endorse the position of the former Vice President of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who commended NASS for taking the bull by the horn in initiating a bill for the establishment of state police in the on going constitutional review to address the current spate of insecurity.
The Tide is, indeed, elated by the courage of the lawmakers who, devoid of party and religious affinities resolved to tackle the security crisis that Nigeria is passing through.
All the country needs now is proactive measures and concrete actions in this direction, especially against the backdrop of the forthcoming general elections scheduled for next year.
As Atiku succinctly put it: “a peculiar crisis demands a decisive action” and we must all support the National Assembly to strengthen the authority of states and local government councils to address insecurity in their territories without necessarily waiting for orders from Abuja to tackle daily security infractions in their domains.
Giving the seeming helplessness of the central police and affected communities to squarely tackle security breaches and hostilities, the National Assembly needs to expedite the process so as to give legal teeth to states and local authorities to take control of security matters.
All Nigerians with good conscience should, therefore, support the move to establish state police and community policing as a way forward to solving security concerns in various parts of the country.
Nigerians must exhibit the highest sense of patriotism by showing compassion to one another and bear in mind that like in the labour circle, injury to one is injury to all.
The issue of state police is long overdue and the time to establish it is now.