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Public Opinion Split as Federal Government and State Governors Consider Alternatives for State Police

Public Opinion Split as Federal Government and State Governors Consider Alternatives for State Police

Over the past eight years, there has been an increasing demand for the establishment of state police in Nigeria. Since the All Progressives Congress (APC) came into power in 2015, succeeding the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the presidential election, the country has witnessed an unprecedented level of insecurity.

Various criminal groups, including the Boko Haram Islamist sect, bandits, Fulani herdsmen militias, unknown gunmen, and more recently, kidnappers, have been causing havoc by perpetrating killings, maiming, theft, rape, and destruction of property, farms, and livelihoods.

Nigerians argue that the government’s primary responsibility of ensuring security can no longer be guaranteed. Regardless of the region – whether in the east, west, north, or south – the situation remains the same. The activities of Fulani herdsmen have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Nigerians, and the situation continues to deteriorate with the emergence of other non-state actors such as kidnappers and bandits.

Kidnapping for ransom has become a lucrative business, to the extent that even members of certain churches orchestrate the abduction of their own pastors and reverends in order to demand ransom.

The security situation has reached a point where even the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, has come under heavy attack, with kidnappers invading people’s homes and abducting scores of individuals.

In response to the prevailing security situation, there has been a renewed call for the establishment of state police. While many believe that creating state police is long overdue, others express concerns that state governors may misuse them for their own political gain. There is fear that these police forces could be manipulated by governors to target their political opponents.

In light of the desires and aspirations of the people, the Federal Government recently hinted at the possibility of embracing state police. This announcement came after an emergency meeting between President Bola Tinubu and state governors at the Aso Rock Villa.

The meeting was convened in response to the recent increase in food prices, economic hardships, and pockets of insecurity experienced nationwide.

Addressing State House Correspondents alongside Governors Caleb Mutfwang (Plateau), Ubah Sani (Kaduna), and Sheriff Oborevwori (Delta) after the governors’ meeting with President Tinubu, Minister of Information Mohammed Idris stated that the 36 state governors and the President were considering the feasibility of establishing state police.

He acknowledged that there is still much work to be done before the creation of state police forces becomes a reality. However, he assured the public that the President and governors had reached an agreement to collaborate on the necessary steps and modalities to make it happen. 

Idris has also announced the formation of a committee to consolidate the discussions held during the meeting.

He stated, “It’s important to remember that this meeting was called by the President to inform the state governors about the ongoing situation and the actions being taken by the Federal Government. It was also an opportunity for the governors to provide their input on developmental issues in our country.

“We discussed various issues, including national security, the reported food shortage, and other measures to improve the state of our nation.

“Firstly, the governors and the President have agreed to establish a committee to further delve into the topics discussed during the meeting. Given the number of issues raised, it is impossible to address them all at once, so this will be an ongoing process.

“Secondly, both the President and the governors have agreed that these meetings should continue in the best interest of our nation.

“It’s crucial for the Federal Government and the state governors, who are leaders at the regional level, to maintain constant engagement. This ensures that matters of national importance are consistently addressed and prevents any room for speculation or individuals who may exploit the opportunity to act against our country’s interests.

“In this regard, the President and the state governors have also explored the possibility of bolstering the number of forest rangers and providing them with training to ensure the safety of our forests and borders.

“We have also discussed the prospect of establishing state police. The Federal Government and the state governments are considering this option. However, it requires further discussion and work. Both parties recognize the importance of having state police, but there are still details to be worked out.

“In conclusion, all 36 state governors and the President are united in their commitment to maintaining a peaceful, united, and prosperous Nigeria. These conversations will continue to deepen, and engagements between the Federal Government and the state governors will persist.”

Yerima Shettima, the President of the Arewa Youths Consultative Forum (AYCF), expressed his support for the government’s plan, emphasizing the need for state police and restructuring. He also highlighted the importance of economic viability at the state level, suggesting that states should utilize their resources to promote development rather than relying solely on the central government.

On the other hand, Hon Yusuf Shehu, a former member of the Katsina State House of Assembly, expressed concerns about creating state police during the current security challenges. He believed that it could lead to power conflicts between the federal and state police and potential misuse by state governors against their political opponents. Instead, he suggested the establishment of community police that would work with the federal police to gather intelligence and ensure safety without carrying firearms.

Dr. Pogu Bitrus, the president of the Middle Belt Forum, supported the idea of state police, citing the high level of insecurity in the country. He believed that state police would address security issues more effectively, drawing upon Nigeria’s past experience with a similar system.

Osita Okechukwu, a foundation member of the All Progressive Congress (APC), proposed the establishment of Constabulary Police in accordance with Sections 105 to 109 of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020. He expressed concerns about the potential abuse of state police by governors, as observed in their interference with democratic institutions. He argued that a gradual transition from the Special Constabulary to State Police would be a better approach, avoiding hasty decisions made in times of grief.

Okechukwu suggested that a well-trained and well-equipped Special Constabulary, recruited from local communities in collaboration with the governors, would be more effective in tackling kidnappers, terrorists, and insurgents without compromising civil liberties.

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Blessing Temi

Blessing Temitope here, bridging the gap between the unfolding world and the power of song lyrics. My pen charts the map of current events while celebrating the artistry behind the music. Join me for a deep dive into the narratives and verses that define our times.

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