Insecurity: Let’s try state police 

For the first time, the federal government and state governors have agreed to establish state police. The agreement was reached during an emergency meeting between President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and state governors to address the rising cases of insecurity and food crisis in the country. It could be recalled that several attempts have been made in the past for the establishment of state police in other to complement the federal police. There is no gainsaying the fact that a centralised security system has failed to address the security challenges bedeviling the country. The Nigeria Police Force are grossly inadequate, overburdened and underfunded. The United Nations (UN) recommends one police to 300 citizens. However, in Nigeria, the ratio is one police to 400 Nigerians. With the rising spate of insecurity in the country, such as unknown gunmen, kidnapping and banditry, the proponents of state police have re-echo their voices and agitated for it. Despite the fact that calls for the creation of state police have never seen the light, overwhelmed security challenges had forced state governors to recruit local vigilante groups to assist them in the war against criminals in their respective states.

For instance, in the South-east states, there is Egbebua, South-west formed Amotekum, in the North-east, we have civilian JTF, etc. It is no understatement to say that virtually every state has recruited and is funding its vigilante group. No wonder, in recent times, the country has witnessed the proliferation of vigilante groups. While these voluntary security outfits have been assisting government on the war against insecurity, their modus operandi seems to be outdated and needs total overhauling. The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris, stated that the creation of state police will be a continuous process. This means, government will work out modalities for the successful establishment of state police. But the time for it is now. Insecurity has continued to deteriorate, with government looking helpless. Hardly a day passes without bad news of banditry attacks or kidnapping of defenseless Nigerians. Insecurity is what triggers inflation or the current soaring prices of commodities. Many farming communities in Niger, Zamfara, Katsina and Kaduna states have been sacked by bandits. Besides, Nigeria practices federalism. Most of the counties which operate federalism run federal and state police. The U.S.A, which Nigeria copies its federalism, operates states police.

There is nothing wrong for Nigeria to adopt a state police. The National Assembly should quickly start the process of amending the 1999 constitution to give it the requisite legal backing. In the course of the amendment, the legislative arm should draw the boundaries between the operations of federal and state police. President Tinubu, who is aware of the dire security challenges, should expeditiously assent to the state police bill to guarantee its immediate take off. Yes, opponents of state police will come hard on it. They will argue on the likely abuse, funding and conflicts between the duo security agencies. With the high rate of insecurity, state governors will have less time to abuse it. In addition, there is the need for “state police committee” comprising governors, security advisers, opposition parties, civil society organisations, traditional rulers, local government chairmen, retired military personnel, etc. The committee should meet monthly to assess and review strategies.

On funding, state police need to be funded through the monthly security votes, security trust funds, aids and other external sources. On recruitment, training and use of firearms, state governments should liaise with the office of the Inspector General of Police. The state police are expected to work in pari pasu or cooperate with the federal police in the areas of intelligence sharing and general operations. The state police who are expected to be locally recruited should have a full knowledge of their terrains. If they work together as a team with the federal police, the menace of insecurity can easily be contained. 

Ibrahim Mustapha,

Pambegua, Kaduna state