Olalekan Adetayo and Adelani Adepegba
The Presidency will not oppose the National Assembly on its ongoing efforts to make provision for the creation of state police in the country as a way of tackling the nation’s security challenges.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, gave the indication in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents on Saturday.
Shehu was asked if the Presidency was on the same page with the National Assembly on the issue of state police.
The presidential spokesman said Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo had spoken publicly on the matter.
He explained that Osinbajo’s position remained the position of the Presidency on the matter because he was qualified to speak for the Presidency.
He said, “The Vice President has spoken on the issue of state police. Since the VP has spoken, who in the Presidency will counter him?
“Except if it is the President who does not agree with him, otherwise, the Vice President can speak for the Presidency of this country.
“Nobody can counter what the VP has said. We stand by him and what he has said. We can’t deny or disown him.
“Again, he probably might have reviewed and discussed it with the President before he spoke.”
Osinbajo had, in a keynote address he delivered at the third anniversary of the 8th Assembly of the Lagos State House of Assembly recently, said state police remained the surest way of tackling current security challenges like herdsmen and farmers clashes in parts of the country.
He said it was no longer practicable to police a country as big as Nigeria from Abuja.
Govs will abuse state police, says ex-IG
But a former Inspector-General of Police, Sunday Ehindero, cautioned against the creation of state police, warning that it would be abused by governors.
He argues that the nation was not ripe for state police, noting that it might be used as an instrument of oppression against political opponents as it happened in the First and Second Republic.
Ehindero argued that state police was not the antidote to the security challenges in the country which he said could be tackled through effective policing and a reformed security architecture.
He highlighted the limitations of state police, stressing that it could not deal with the challenge of insurgency and terrorism, for instance.
He said, “We are not ripe for state police. We saw in the First and Second Republic how the police were used by political opponents and it was an instrument of terror at that time .
“We have not looked at the issue of boundary disputes between states. Take for instance, if Osun and Ondo states have state police and they have boundary problem, of course, each would use its own police to justify its position and that is not in the interest of justice. I think we are not ripe really.”
Ehindero further dismissed claims by governors that they had no control over the security apparatus in their states, noting that the state chief executives had the constitutional authority to issue directives to state commissioners of police when the need arose.
Speaking in the same vein, a retired Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, pointed out that state police would create more problems than it would solve.
He cited the alleged altercation between Governor Ayo Fayose and policemen on election duty in Ekiti which he said would have got out of hand if the state had its own police force.
“State police would create more problems: See what happened in Ekiti where the governor was allegedly tear-gassed. Assuming he had state police, nobody would enter the state,” he stated.
Tsav also wondered how states that couldn’t pay workers salary would be able to fund the police effectively, adding that this might further worsen the security situation in the country.
According to him, the solution is to fund the police and recruit more personnel, stressing that state police would become a political tool in the hands of governors.
He said, “Most of the states cannot pay salaries. So, how can they equip the police and pay them? They are just creating a situation that would worsen the security challenge in the country.”
A former director of the Department of State Services, Mike Ejiofor, however, disagreed with claims that state police might be used as a tool of oppression, noting that this was not sufficient to kill the initiative.
He submitted that anyone whose right was trampled upon by state police could seek redress in court, adding that security would improve with the creation of state police.
He said, “Look, there is no way it (state police) can be made a tool for oppressing the opposition. How many Nigerians presently have been taking the police to court? If anyone thinks his rights have been infringed on by the state police, he or she has the right to go to court and take civil action.”
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