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Federalism, State Policing: Necessary To Save Our Democracy

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In recent times, Nigerians have intensified the clamour for an effective police system, better welfare for the existing Police structure and above all, pro-active policing measures to at least checkmate crime and its insurgence.
“Federalism dates back to 1200-1400 AD when the Senecas, Onondagas Oneidas, Mohawks and Cayugas ended their war and formed a federal union known as the Iroquois Confederacy.”
These federating units were guided by a constitution known as Kaianerekowa, the Great law of Peace.
The Merriam-Webster’s English Dictionary, federalism is defined “as the distribution of power in an organization (such as a government) between a central authority and the constituent”.
One of the most perfect examples of modern federalism is practiced in the United States of America. The history of America and how different confederating units came together to form a nation is no new story to followers of history. In America “the framers of the Constitution” rejected both confederal and unitary models of government.
Instead, they based the new American government on an entirely new theory: federalism. In a confederation, the member states make up the union. Sovereignty remains with the states and individuals are citizens of their respective states, not of the national government. In a unitary system, on the other hand, the national government is sovereign and the states, if they exist at all, are mere administrative arms of the central government.
In the American federal system, the people retain their basic sovereignty and they delegate some powers to the national government and reserve other powers for the states. Individuals are citizens of both the general government and their respective states.”
The Nigerian Supreme Court in A.G. Federation v. A.G. Lagos State described the concept of Federalism as:
“Federalism is an arrangement whereby powers of government within a country are shared between a national, countrywide government and a number of regionalized (i.e., territorially localized) governments in such a way that each exists as a government separately and independently from others, operating directly on persons and property within its territorial area, with a will of its own and its own apparatus for the conduct of its affairs.
Federalism is thus essentially an arrangement between governments, a constitutional device by which powers within a country are shared among two tiers of government.
Leaders of thought have been in constant search of the system of government that would suit its multi-ethnic cum religious peculiarities as well as curing the governance inadequacies that has bedeviled it for over 60 years.
We have progressed from the regional system to our own Federalism which has been adjudged as a quasi-federalism because it lacks the essential features of federalism. It is instructive to state that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigerian 1999 as amended is to be held liable for the woes which our current federal structure suffer.
Obviously because by its provision, it relegated key functions of governance to the national government while leaving the states and local government to survive at the mercy of the center.
Federalism as a system of government is a total reflection of the people and how they intend their sovereignty to be managed. Although this article is not aimed at discrediting the 1999 Constitution as amended it would only be fair to categorically state that the constitution robed the federating units of their desire to retain power at the sub national levels.
The security of lives and property is a critical obligation of government. It is a duty which flows from the concept of sovereignty and governance. For a state to accept sovereignty of its citizen it must give its all to protect the lives of its citizens. In a federal state, and a complex nation like Nigeria, state policing should not be an issue up for discuss.
This is more so that it is a feature of true federalism. In the past two decades, insecurity has witnessed significant growth and the government (federal and states) have been overwhelmed largely because of the lack of systems (adequate laws) to curb the proliferation of arms, invasion of foreigners and of course the economic downturn.
According to the Walsh, William Francis, Brodeur, Jean-Paul, Banton, Michael Parker, Killing, George L. and Whetstone, Thomas. “Police”. Encyclopedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/topic/police ”the United States has what may be the most decentralized police system in the world, characterized by an extraordinary degree of duplication and conflicting jurisdiction.
Although every community is entitled to run its own police department, none can prevent federal or state officials from conducting local investigations into offenses over which they have jurisdiction.
There are five major types of police agencies: (1) the federal system, consisting of the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, including the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Secret Service, the Postal Inspection Service, and many others; (2) police forces and criminal investigation agencies established by each of the 50 states of the union; (3) sheriffs’ departments in several thousand counties, plus a few county police forces that either duplicate the sheriffs’ police jurisdictions or displace them; (4) the police forces of about 1,000 cities and more than 20,000 townships and New England towns; and (5) the police of some 15,000 villages, boroughs, and incorporated towns.
To this, list must be added special categories, such as the police of the District of Columbia; various forces attached to authorities governing bridges, tunnels, and parks; university, or “campus,” police forces; and some units that police special districts formed for fire protection, soil conservation, and other diverse purposes. Although there are tens of thousands of police forces throughout the United States, the majority of them consist of just a few officers.”
Chapter Two of the Nigerian Constitution which is captioned as the “The Fundamental Objectives And Directive Principles Of State Policy” provides for the duties and obligation of the government and key stakeholders in our polity.
The premier section in this Chapter provides thus “it shall be the duty and responsibility of all organs of government, and of all authorities and persons, exercising legislative, executive or judicial powers, to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of this Chapter of this constitution. Section 14(2)(b) of the Constitution 1999 as amended further provides that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government…”
As cleverly worded as the provisions sighted above may appear, there is a clog in the wheel to the realization of these objectives particularly as it concerns security and policing by “all organs of government”.
This same constitution which gave the various organs of government the power to realize these objectives in the protection of the took same back when it provided in the Second Schedule Part 1, of the exclusive legislative list, item 45 that issues bothering on policing and other government security services are to be legislated upon by only the federal government.
These provisions of our grundnorm create a paradoxical situation for true federalism to be practiced, and owing to the rising security challenges, the clamor for state police has become a necessity that cannot be overlooked.
The implementation of state police in our federal structure would improve the gains of the government in curbing insecurity, enable the people to participate in the government and above all create employment for the citizens.
No doubt, state policing comes with its disadvantages but given the current situation of our national security, state police is the way to go. Recently, sub national levels of government have tried to create local police apparatus that would carter for the inadequacies of the federal police structure. Although, few have been successful but there seem to be conflicts of duty and interest between these new creations and the already established security agencies.
One must not ignore the concerns of citizens who see this innovation as a radical shift. No doubt that political actor (state governors) may be given undue advantage by placing them in direct control of the security architecture within the state, but this can be adequately taken care of by proper reforms and legal instruments.
The welfare of the citizens in this new era of policing should be of paramount importance to those in control. Political immaturity and lack of trust is recurring issue in third world democracy however this should not be a barrier to overall advantage that state policing would bring to our polity.
In our State (Rivers), there have been repeated loggerheads with members of OSPAC (a local/volunteering security group) that have recorded some successes in curbing crimes within major local governments and this has reposed more confidence in the need for state policing.
In a recent chat with a colleague, he related his ordeals in trying to secure the bail of members of OSPAC who were arrested by the police and remanded in the Port-Harcourt prisons for what may have been conflicts arising from performance of their duties.
One may not also ignore reports of the excesses of these volunteers who may while carrying out their duties contravened the law, but we must also look at the gains over the ills of these innovations in times like this.
While it is agreed that protection and policing of lives and properties be managed by locals however supervised the government, it is pertinent to state that our Constitution must be amended.
The duties of the state police as well as the federal police must be enumerated properly to avoid clashes; proper orientation exercise should be carried out to ensure that those who would be recruited would be thoroughly equipped psychologically for better service delivery.
No doubt that this innovation would require more funding and cost, the pitiable state of our federal police must not be allowed to be replicated at the state levels when this is concept is finally adopted.
In conclusion, President Bill Clinton in his forward to the Blair House Papers “proposed a new public management model for the federal government, one based on forging new partnerships with state and local governments”.
He said “The era of big government is over, but the era of big challenges is not. People want smaller government, but they also want active and effective national leadership.
They want a government that provides them the means and opportunities to meet their responsibilities and solve their own problems.”

By: Martin C. Chioma esq.
Chioma, Esq is a Practicing lawyer in Port Harcourt.

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Crime/Justice

New Imo Police Boss Pledges To Sustain Fight Against Crime

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The new Commissioner of Police, Imo State Command, Mohammed Ahmed Barde, has pledged to consolidate and improve on the achievement recorded by his predecessors in areas of combating crimes, criminality and sustaining stability in the state.
He stated this on his assumption of duty at the Command Headquarters in, Owerri, after being drafted to the state last week.
Spokesperson for the Command, Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) Michael Abattam, in a statement, quoted Barde as saying he would explore modern intelligence and tactical strategies that would guarantee adequate security in the state.
Abattam described the new Police boss as a seasoned, passionate, versatile and experienced police officer, who has earned accolades for his meritorious services and professionalism in the force.
He disclosed that the Imo CP, who hails from Niger State, joined the Force in March 1990, as a Cadet Assistant Superintendent of Police.
He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree (B.Sc) in Political Science from Usman Danfodio University and a Masters Degree in Peace and Conflict Resolution.
He said: “CP Mohammed Ahmed Barde was the Commissioner of Police, Force Criminal Intelligence Investigation Department (FCIID) Annex, Enugu, and until his recent posting to Imo State Police Command, he was the Commissioner of Police, Adamawa State Command. His dint of hard work and professionalism in the job has earned him many accolades.”
Barde took over from CP Rabiu Hussaini, who recently retired from active service after attaining the retirement age of 60.

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Crime/Justice

Rumuji DPO Bags Outstanding Security Award

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Sequel to his doggedness in crime fighting and management, the Divisional Police Officer in charge of Rumuji Police Station, CSP Nnaemeka Didigwu has been bestowed with the Outstanding Crime Fighter/Security Management Police Officer of the Year Award by the leadership of the Coalition of Niger Delta Journalists.
The award was handed over to Didigwu by the Chairman of the Union Mr. Wariso Wariso who led a delegation of the group to Rumuji Police Station in Emohua Local Government Area over the week.
Wariso who recalled how terrible the area was before the arrival of the officer and his team said that they have brought down crime rate in that axis of the state.
He hinted that many who left the area as a result of insecurity had since returned for their lawful business operations.
The leader of the team, said Police officers of such rating ought to receive support from all and sundry in a bid to spur them to action.
According to him, criminals operating in that axis of the state have since chosen relocation as an option due to the continuous bombing of the brushes and forests by the officer and his team in search of the miscreants.
“It is based on this fact findings that we as professional Media group, resolved to bestow an award of honour to this hard working and experienced gallant officer”, he said.
Didigwu, who codedly hinted on part of his activities in the area under his watch, said most of the notorious criminals in the area have repented.
He pointed out that crime fighting should be business of all and not to be left in the hands of a selected few.
The officer also warned against rising of false alarm by the people as such could jeopardise security.
Meanwhile, he has assured the group and the general public of his determination to do more and thanked the group for indentifying with him and the entire Police Force.
The Tide learnt that the East-West Road and the Emohua-Kalabari Road now enjoy peace due to the effort of the officer and his team.

By: King Onunwor

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Crime/Justice

CP Seeks Strong Collaboration With Judiciary, Others

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The Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Mr Okon O. Effong has called for strong synergy between the judiciary and other sister security agencies in the State.
Effong made this appeal when he led other management team of the command on a courtesy call on the State Chief Judge , Justice Simeon Chibuzor Amadi and other Judges.
According to a statement signed by the spokesperson of the command, SP Grace Iringe-Koko, the visit centred on the need for synergy and collaboration for effective service delivery with the judicial arm.
The statement quoted the Commissioner of Police as saying that the judiciary is very vital in the dispensation of justice and equity among the citizens just as the police was saddled with the responsibility of maintaining law and order in the state and the nation as a whole.
The statement futher said the Commissioner of Police also visited the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army where he met with Maj. Gen O.O. Oloyede and reiterated the need for collaboration to enhance the security architecture of the State.
“In the same vein, he visited the Nigerian Immigration Service State headquarters and was received by CIS A.J. Kwasua. “
“The CP also visited the State Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps; (NSCDC), Commandant Michael Ogar at the NSCDC State Command in Port Harcourt where he lectured the officers and men of the corps including the three Area Commanders and 23 Divisional Officers on the need to see the officers and men of the Nigerian Police Force as a senior brother from the same parent;
“CP Okon further maintained that all security apparatus in the State must see each other as one and not as rivals or competitors because a house divided against itself cannot stand”.

By: Amadi Akujobi

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