BY EMMANUEL AZIKEN, POLITICAL EDITOR
THE ongoing rampage by armed robbers in Kogi State, which has forced banks in parts of the state to close shop has reawakened calls for the establishment of State Police. Considering the awesome powers already available to governors, is it a proposal worthy of consideration?
IT was believed at one time that the beastly bunch of bandits that periodically brutalized travellers passing through Kogi State only concerned themselves with non-indigenes. Taking positions along strategic portions of the pothole marked Okene-Lokoja road, they harassed interstate travelers, robbing and maiming their victims and then effortlessly melting into the surrounding bushes.
The bestial instincts of the robbers raised nationwide indignation earlier this year when the robbers after an operation forced their victims to lie on the road allowing a luxury bus to run over more than 20 of them.
Now, the marauders have reorganized themselves to also focus on their host communities.
Remarkably, the robbers are not pushed off by the Police as they have made a practice of hitting even Police stations in the state at will. While the highway robbers are centered in the Kogi Central district of the state, the bank robbers have forced themselves on the people of Kogi West senatorial district.
The Monday before Christmas was especially agonizing for the people of Aiyetoro Gbedde in Ijumu Local Government Area and Kabba in Kabba-Bunu Local Government Area of Kogi State.
On that day, the robbers numbering about 15 raided a first generation bank in Aiyetoro Gbedde and on the same day also ransacked the police station in the town.
The brazen efforts by the robbers has caused all the banks in Kogi West senatorial district to close shop putting the people more on the edge.
The development is one that is, however, not amusing for Senator Smart Adeyemi, who represents the constituency in the Senate.
Adeyemi in a letter to the Inspector General of Police, Hafiz Ringim drawing his attention to the plight of his people also urged the IGP to urgently consider ways of introducing State Police as a way of addressing in the long term the attacks from the evil marauders.
“For about six months now, the security situation in that axis has been much tensed. It has been reported that an average of one or two bank robbery cases would be registered in a month within the area.
“All such other attendant vices include the incessant tales of highway robbery, armed robbery, kidnapping, robbery of Police stations/posts in order to recover arms and ammunition and the heinous crimes of rape and arson.
“This pocket of occurrences has moved me to write to you. The safety of common man in Kogi West Senatorial District has been left to providence as little or no effort is made by the Police, especially because they have been divested of their ammunition.
“This situation has impoverished my people because business activities are carried out under the fear of falling victim of robbery. Most importantly, commercial activities are stalled as banks have remained closed to customers in the area for fear of an attack.
“It is highly regrettable that socio-economic activities have been on a downward turn. Schools have been closed, markets shut and people can hardly open their doors to neighbours before 11am, while they hurriedly go to bed from about 6pm.
Also, in this yuletide season when all should be merry, a lot of my constituents are afraid to make trips to their own homes to spend the joy of the season with their respective families.
“The unfortunate situation has carved out a trend for market women to begin to demand for other means of payment for goods and services, other than cash. This is due to the fact that this season has been noted for a breakdown of law and order since majority of workers would be on holidays.
“It is soul depressing that today in our country, only few states of the Federation seem to have certain degree of tranquility and a fairly acceptable level of security. Those are states whose governments have been able to support the Nigeria Police and which have a certain mechanism of state policing.
“Thus, it is imperative that we, as a nation, begin to explore a variant of the State Police to run pari-passu with the Nigeria Police.
“This variation would take into consideration the peculiarities of the Nigerian society. We must confront the challenges of nation building within the framework of the Federal System of Government.
“I look forward to your support for an improvement on the current situation in Kogi West Senatorial District and in Kogi State as a whole.”
Senator Adeyemi’s suggestion of State Police as an option to address the bandits would no doubt be received with serious trepidation.
Principally of concern is the degree to which state governors, who rule their states with no opposition would use the police as an instrument of oppression.
Only few months ago, Senator Adeyemi was himself engaged in a battle of wits with Governor Idris Ibrahim over the Senate election. It was a battle that he survived by the whiskers. Imagine then if the governor had the Police to his advantage in the contest!