*To take decision at NEC
*Say $1bn from Excess Crude for security disbursed

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru and Ajibola Olusoji

THE Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, on yesterday said that it had not taken a common position on the establishment of State Police in the country.

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Ondo State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu; Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi;Oyo State Governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde and Osun State Governor, Mr. Gboyega Oyetola

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Chairman of the NGF, and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi stated this while briefing State House correspondents after the expanded security meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari and Security heads at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Fayemi, who was flanked by six other governors from the six geo-political zones said that while some governors were advocating for State police because of the peculiar security challenges facing their states others didn’t deem it necessary because of the financial implications.

He said that the NGF will take a holistic view of the issue and come out with a position on it.

He also stated that the $1 billion approved from the Excess Crude Account to fight insecurity had been disbursed among the security agencies, though he said it was not enough to tackle the security challenges.

The NGF boss who said the meeting was at the instance of the governors said it dwelt primarily on insecurity: kidnapping, armed robbery, insurgency, militancy among others.

Fayemi said there will be a special meeting of National Economic Council, NEC, which is chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to take position on the myriads of security problems in order to give confidence to the citizenry.

Explaining the essence of the meeting, he said, “the meeting was at our instance as governors of the 36 states collectively. It has to do with the security situation in the country, our concerns about what is going on all across the nation.

“We had a very fruitful meeting with Mr. President. Of course, he was not oblivious of the challenges, he gets security reports on a daily basis, he understands what the issues are.

“But we felt as chief security officers in our respective states, it is also important for us to at least keep Mr. President abreast of the enormity of the challenges we are facing and also highlight the concerns of our citizens across the board about rural banditry, farmers/herders clashes, kidnapping, militancy in the Delta, insurgency and cultism.

“So we discussed extensively all of these issues and looked at the various ways that we felt as governors we could assist Mr. President as the Commander-in-Chief to curb these issues. Of course, we were able to, in the first instance, look at the nexus between our economic challenges and the security challenges as well and the importance of tackling the causes of crime not just crime on its own.

PDP Govs too

Governors under the platform of Peoples Democratic Party have demanded immediate establishment of state police as an effective response to the worsening state of security in the country.

The governors in a communique read by the Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Bayelsa State, the Honourable Henry Seriake Dickson, expressed deep worry over the spate of killings across the country and called for effective measures to curtail the troubling development.

A statement by the Special Adviser Media Relation to the  Governor of Bayelsa  State,  Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, yesterday stated that Governor Dickson made the call on behalf of the Forum while reading the communique of a late-night meeting at the Bayelsa Governors Lodge, Maitama, Abuja on Thursday.

He said that the governors would raise the issue of security among others with the President in a meeting scheduled for Friday.

“We express deep concern over the politicization of the security apparatus in every state by the Federal Government and its agencies and by operatives of the other party in the various states they are not in control and as such support the growing calls for the establishment of State Police as a response to the security situation in the country.

“And we believe that this is one of the reasons that we have these widespread insecurity and will take some of these issues up when we interact with  the President.”

Criminal Justice

“We also looked at the criminal justice system that appears to give some room for impunity. When people commit crimes and they are not punished effectively in accordance with the law, it then creates an opportunity for replicating such crimes. And of course, Mr. President was also equally concerned about that. He made it clear to us that we all knew that he campaigned on the basis of security, economy and accountability and these things are still the most germane issues on his agenda.

Intelligence on Community Policing

“He will also work with us to address questions of  intelligence, of broadening community policing, of ensuring inter-service coordination among the various security agencies, of strengthening the criminal justice system and of working with our state’s innovative on mechanism for addressing these issues. Already, all of us are involved in funding. There is no governor that is not buying security vehicles, ammunition for police, giving allowances to our security agencies, be they SSS, or police, or in some cases the military, where the military is involved.

“We are already involved. It is just to ensure that we have a better and much more coordinated mechanism for addressing this.”

NEC to resolve State Police

He said that there will be NEC meeting to take a common position on State Police.

According to him, “We agreed that these issues will be much more comprehensively dealt with at a special meeting of the National Economic Council of which governors are members, presided over by the Vice President. In areas where significant progress has been made, for example, in the north east, we were clearly informed by the governor of Borno, who spoke for the North east that even when you resolve issues militarily, the stabilization of the activities that must continue is critical to eventual resolutions of these challenges.

“Rehabilitation, resettlement and all those elements of stabilization activities must be brought to bear in order for us to have sustained peace over a long time.

“The president expressed his concerns; we thanked the president for what has been done so far.  In our states, we have received multiple support, be it bailout funds to address salary challenges, if that has not been dealt with the situation would probably have been worse.

“Support in terms of national food security committee, support on flooding, support in the North east for insurgency and related activities. But these problems are proliferating and we need to nip them in the bud as field commanders of Mr. President in our various states.”

When asked specifically on whether the State Governors would support State Police and whether they have the resources to pay the new N30, 000 minimum wage, he said the NEC will decide that.

He said:”On whether state governors should be involved in state policing, we have not taken position because experiences vary. There are states where there are agitations for it, there are governors who have the views that, that will work better in such states. And of course, there are the economic issues relating to that.

“So, we have the capacity at the state level  to fund state policing, those are all issues that will come into play when we get to the national economic council meeting that has been called.

$1bn excess crude account money for security

On the $1 billion approved by the NGF in 2017 from the Excess Crude Account to fund the fight against insurgency which generated controversy among governors, he said the fund had been expended by the security services.

He said, “On the $1 billion, it may seem like a huge amount of money and it is a huge amount of money but when you are dealing with security issues, where a Tucano jet cost more than $50 million and you are getting say 20, you know how much that is already.

“I am not giving you specific details of how that money was expended, we will be happy to do that but we feel that that is really not a matter for us as governors. Yes, we were supportive of it because our position has always been whatever is required by the Commander-in-Chief to resolve security challenges in Nigeria, we will  support him.

“Of course, we demand accountability, we will like to assure you that the $1 billion taken was definitely expanded among the various security services but the details I cannot give you now.”

Governors present at the briefing were David Umahi of Ebonyi, Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta,  Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo, Simon Lalong of Plateau and Babagana Zulum of Borno State.

The expanded meeting was attended by the Service Chiefs, heads of other security agencies including the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu.

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