…explains how to check abuse of state police
By Henry Umoru
ABUJA – DEPUTY Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Thursday said that if the increasing rate of insecurity, banditry, kidnapping in the country must be nipped in the bud, there was the urgent need for President Muhammadu Buhari to throw his weight behind calls for state police.
Ekweremadu who blamed the rising security challenges on unitary police system prescribed by the constitution, stressed that the best option was not to jettison the decentralized policing, which ensured the security of the people and their property up to 1966, but to ensure that appropriate checks in terms of recruitment, appointment of police chiefs, control, logistics, funding, among others were put in place, to guide against possible abuse by State Governors as feared by some.
Speaking Thursday in Abuja at the opening of a two-day conference on the implementation of autonomy of State Legislature and State Judiciary, Ekweremadu who hailed President Buhari for assenting to the Constitution Alteration Bills on Financial Autonomy for States Legislature and States Judiciary, said: “Our constitution contradicts, in several respects, the basic principles of democracy such as the separation of powers, checks and balances, and compromises the independence of the critical institutions of democracy.
“This is why the National Assembly has, starting from 2010, successfully altered the constitution to strengthen the principles of separation of powers, checks and balance, and indeed our democracy and good governance by placing the National Assembly, INEC, and most recently, the State Houses of Assembly and Judiciary on first line charge”.
He, however cautioned State Assemblies that the autonomy was not a license to appropriate whatever they liked to their respective Assemblies and States Judiciary, but a recognition of the prioritisation of the release of their funds in the appropriation law of their respective states.
The deputy Senate President who described the local government as the weakest link in the governance structure, however urged the State Assemblies to approve the Constitution Amendment Bills that seek strengthen the councils as a third tier of government.
He suggested the establishment of a National Police Service Commission (NPSC) to exercise a level of oversight over the activities of the state police such as maintaining common facilities for all Police Services in the country, including training, criminal intelligence data bases, forensic laboratories, among others.
Ekweremadu said, “The NPSC should also run a system of inspectorates and certification such as supervision of recruitment, training, supervision of standards, and annual certification of every State Police Service.
“There should also be a body known as State Police Service Commission for the states and should comprise a representative of the executive to be appointed by the Governor, representative of the Federal Government to be appointed by the NPSC, two independent experts in security matters to be appointed by the Governor subject to confirmation by the State House of Assembly, and a representative each of the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress.
“Others are a retired police officer not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police, representative of the Nigerian Bar Association, representative of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, and representatives of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and other relevant civil organizations, as the case may be. The body should be responsible for the recruitment, appointment and disciplining of the members of the state police force.
“Importantly, the funding of the state police should be a first line charge on the state account or it can be deducted at source from the Federation Account and paid to the Police Service Commission for onward disbursement to the respective State Police Service Commissions.
“There should be an Act of the National Assembly stipulating the type of arms that can be acquired by a sub-national police and also unacceptable conducts, which can lead to the sanction of a sub-national police command.”
On affordability, the deputy Senate President said that state police would not be compulsory as those who have the resources could establish one, while those who could not afford would continue to rely on the federal police until they were able to establish one.
He said, “The important thing is to lay down the legal frameworks that authorise and regulate decentralised policing so that those who can afford it can start, hence I urge Mr. President to lend his political will and weight to the quest for decentralised policing.”