Governors of the 36 states of the federation on Thursday set up a six-man committee to explore the option of actualising state police in the country.
Coming at a time when the call for restructuring of the country is at a high pitch, Lagos lawyer and Human Rights activist, Chief Femi Falana said what the governors did is part of the restructuring process.
‘’It is part of restructuring. I have always argued that restructuring has been on since 1999. State governments have since converted or simply collapsed the local government system as part of its structure or agency. In any case, let the state governments give modalities for its creation- uses and operational modalities- because the fear has always been the control of state police if created’’, Falana told newsmen in a telephone chat yesterday.
Zamfara State governor and chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Abdulaziz Yari, who disclosed the setting up of the restructuring committee after the forum’s meeting on Wednesday night at the presidential villa, said the committee has representatives from each of the six geo-political zones of the country.
According to him, the committee is mandated to come up with the best way of policing the country in view of the myriads of security challenges facing the country.
He also said that the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, who briefed the forum, sought the permission for the establishment of media outfits like radio and television for the Police Force.
Yari said, “We discussed and we received presentation from the Inspector General of Police. He made a presentation to us canvassing for the support to introduce media outfits, radio and television for the force as well as for the police to go technologically from the manual of doing things.
“The Inspector General of Police dominated the whole day of our discussion today in understanding what the issue of policing is, to the system. In some other nations, it is ten to one person but in Nigeria we have four hundred to one.
“So, they are having so many difficulties in funding which we agreed that with the way things are going with the budgeting process, we cannot be able to fund police. So, the Inspector General of Police made us to know that there is a kind of Trust Fund Bill which is before the National Assembly. He asked for our support and the members of the National Assembly, especially the House of Representatives.
“On our own part, we have put a committee in place. It is headed by the governors of Kwara, Imo, Delta, Ekiti, Bauchi and Sokoto to lead the committee so that they can be able to interface with the committee of police and take the matter before the acting president for further action. It is important for our nation.
“There is the issue of kind of state police which is being discussed and we are coming with so many options which we are expecting the committee will do and find safe way of policing in Nigeria”.
On his part, the IGP pointed out that there are security challenges in virtually all parts of the country, saying matters that border on security require collective effort to confront.
He stated: “We had a fruitful discussion with them and obviously all of them are concerned about security in some parts of the country, virtually in all parts of the country. They are ready to support the Nigeria Police Force to see how we can address some of the challenges”.
Asked about the acting president’s charge for reinforcement in the security apparatus of the country, IGP Idris said, “Obviously it is a normal procedure. When we have challenges we normally reinforce.
“Having insecurity all over the country requires the participation of every citizen of this country. We have to put our heads together to address all the security challenges. The governments are doing well; they are trying to bring communities closer and I think it takes a long time but by and large, with the cooperation of community members and all the security agencies, we have met to synergise”.
The 2014 National Conference had approved the creation of state police, National Border Force and Coast Guard, among others for improved security across the nation.
The decisions were taken during the adoption of the report of the Conference Committee on National Security, headed by a former Inspector General of Police, Gambo Jimeta.
The vice chairman of the conference, Bolaji Akinyemi, who presided over the voting, read the recommendations and the concomitant amendments before putting the question to the delegates.
On a unanimous voice vote, delegates approved the establishment, funding and operation of state and community police based on state laws.
There was however a stalemate on the mode of operation and superiority between the federal police and the state police.
Ayo Adebanjo said the state police should be autonomous and should operate co-ordinately with the federal police and argued that the state is a coordinate to the federal government.
On his part, Femi Falana noted that there were states with different police operations, with commissioners of police manning them.
The conference finally agreed that the police, whether operated by the state or the federal government, should be properly funded.
It also adopted a recommendation for a life insurance to be created for all armed security personnel in the country but rejected the recommendation for the establishment of the Police Complaints Authority.