Wednesday, 12 March 2014
Constitution Amendment: State Police, The Time Is Now By Theophilus Ilevbare
Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State has added his voice to the debate urging the National Assembly at the ongoing Constitution Review to implement the State Police as a veritable way of addressing security challenges across the country. Prominent Nigerians alike have echoed the same sentiments in support of State Police against the backdrop of rising insecurity and as a way of stemming the tide of Boko Haram attacks in the North.
In fact, to the ordinary citizen, the oppressive corruption of the country is epitomized in the NPF that harasses them constantly as they ply their routes, take bribes from hapless citizens in broad daylight, after obliging them with N20 or more but thanks to the Inspector General (IG) of Police, Mohammed Abubakar who ordered the dismantling of all Police check points nationwide, though a few obstinately remain in some parts of the country.
It’s a step in the right direction as most Nigerians believe the constant harassment by some men of the Nigeria Police for “egunje” under the watchful eyes of whoever cared was the height of corruption bedeviling the already tainted image of the force. More so, these check points were mounted at strategic locations along busy routes within major cities, towns and even on the expressway resulting in gridlock. The argument by those who think they help to check the nefarious activities of hoodlums is not valid. In other climes, it’s simply patrols in vans or cars along highways and in the city.
The Nigerian Police Force (NPF) as constituted by Section 194 of the 1979 constitution has failed in its responsibility of providing adequate security for lives and property but instead is now a bunch of corrupt, inept, lackadaisical, ill-motivated and re-numerated force men.
The antecedents of some ex-police chiefs, Sunday Ehindero and Tafa Balogun who were both disgraced out of office and charged by the EFCC to court for embezzling funds meant for the force has in no small measure dealt a big blow to the image of the force.
The task of maintaining law and order has become somewhat a herculean task for the NPF made evident by incessant and devastating attacks by the Boko Haram, the activities of kidnappers, arm robbers and even civilians taking laws into their hands at the slightest provocation epitomised by the four UNIPORT students beaten and set ablaze amidst cheers and video footage by some barbaric youths of Aluu Community in Rivers State.
Frantic efforts has been made in the past to reposition and rebrand the image of the force in areas such as funding, training, re-training, better re-numeration, equipping and re-orientation, though a better part of such allocation to the NPF has ended up in private pockets in the past. Some persons have even muted the idea of change of uniform for the force. All of these aimed at repositioning them for the challenges of policing a troubled and crisis-ridden Nigeria in the 21st century.
The failures of the NPF have necessitated the debate for the introduction of State Police, by the various states of the Federation, to support in all areas the inadequate NPF.
“Nigeria, not ripe for State Police” was the screaming headline from a national daily recently. Those who share this sentiment argue that it’ll become a witch hunting tool for political enemies as well as a manipulative mechanism for orchestrating coordinated attacks against critics and opponents of State Governors and their allies. Am still waiting to hear a better argument as I asked myself, the NPF with its present formation, isn’t it used for the same purpose?
Commissioners of Police (CPs), though answerable to the IG, are they not loyal to the State Governors? Its advantages by far outweigh any demerit. Maybe our leaders are waiting for the eventual collapse of this entity called Nigeria before doing the right thing. Sporadic shooting in public places, terrorist and other activities by hoodlums is increasing exponentially as the capacity of the NPF to contain this spate of violence is decreasing geometrically.
In the United States, policing has been disencentralised even down to the numerous Cities that make up the United States. The effectiveness and efficiency of Police Departments (PDs) such as Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in California State, Boston Police Department (BPD) In Massachusetts and New York Police Department (NYPD), to mention a few, has become the envy and model for serious minded Governments around the world who take the security of properties seriously and believe in the sanctity of human life.
In Britain, talk of The Scotland Yard and the London Metroplitan Police, the splendid work they do. It beats me hollow, how naïve our leaders are not to realize that the gains of State Police far outweigh its demerits if any.
We should practice true federalism; the police should be controlled by the states after all is the ‘federal police’ with its present formation any better?
I can be engaged on twitter @tilevbare.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters