BY SONI DANIEL
ABUJA—Former Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Aliyu Attah, yesterday voiced his opposition to the introduction of state police in Nigeria, saying that it would breed more trouble than the country could imagine.
Attah, who spoke exclusively with Vanguard, described proponents of state police as people lacking a proper sense of history.
Attah said, “Those who are clamouring for state police should go back to the history of policing in Nigeria and learn what the nation passed through in the days of Native Police Authority and decide if Nigeria can handle the consequences of state police in the 21st century.
The former police boss cited a case in the former Anambra State where the governor ordered the state commissioner of police to ignore the visit of the then Vice President, Alex Ekwueme and prepare to receive him (the governor), because they belonged to separate political parties at the time.
He said when the commissioner of police failed to take his instruction, the then governor ordered the immediate arrest and prosecution of the police commissioner.
“If the situation was that bad then, you can imagine what it would be like if we were to allow governors set up and manage police in their respective states.
“Although I would not support outright scrapping of the police ministry, it is important to allow the IGP to procure what he wants for the force; he knows where the problems are and he should be allowed to manage his people for the good of the country,” the former police head added.
Meanwhile, as the controversy over the recommendation by the Parry Osayende-led Committee for the scrapping of the Police Affairs Ministry deepens, a member of the National Assembly has supported the call to do away with the ministry.
Senator Sulaiman Adokwe, who is the Chairman Senate Services Committee, told Vanguard in an exclusive interview that there was no need for the police affairs ministry since all matters relating to the internal security of Nigeria could be effectively handled by the Ministry of Interior.
Senator Adokwe, who represents Nasarawa South in the Senate, said the existence of the Ministry of Police Affairs is a usurpation of the function of the police force and an indirect way of frustrating the effective performance of the outfit.
Adokwe said, “As far as I am concerned, the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps, the Nigerian Immigration Service and the Nigerian Prisons, which deal with the internal security of this country, should all be supervised by the Ministry of Interior and nothing more.
“I do not even see what the Police Affairs Ministry was created to do in the first place and the government should implement the recommendation of the Parry Osayande Committee and do away with the ministry now in the interest of the police force,” the lawmaker said.
But Senator Adokwe made a strong case for the introduction of state police in Nigeria, insisting that it was the only way to checkmate rising violence across the nation.
He argued, “If we are operating true federalism, it follows therefore that states should make their own laws regarding the security of their states.
“The fear that governors would hijack state police and abuse their opponents given what they have done with the conduct of local government elections, does not mean that a particular governor would be in office forever.
“As far as I know, a lot of changes have taken place in Nigeria and it is not possible for the problems that afflicted the Native Police Authority of the past to bedevil state police. Those who are still opposed to the idea should therefore have a rethink for the overall security of this country,” Adokwe pleaded.