By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, on Thursday, urged the Federal Government to rescind its decision to collapse security networks across the country into the Nigerian Police Force, NPF, so as keep them under the control of the Inspector General of Police.
According to the senior lawyers that spoke to Vanguard in separate interviews, such plan by FG would defeat the aim for which the regional security outfits came to be.
They argued that the essence of establishing such networks was to enhance the security situation in the country, especially within rural areas.
Dayo Akinlaja, SAN, said: “To me, it is illogical for the Federal Government to seek to take control of regional security outfits when it was owing to its failure to provide security that made the Governors to come up with the idea in the first place.
“It is equally out of place to subject the regional security outfits to the Police and still ask the Governors to take care of the funding.
“The issue is, who should be in control of operations of the security outfits? I believe that whoever is responsible for its funding should also be the one in control. The Governors that will be doing the funding will be somewhat incapacitated if the control rests with the Police.
“However, whether Community Policing or by whatever name it is called, what matters is important is that the issue of security is very important and we should at least get it right.
“The issue of funding and who should be in control should not be allowed to truncate the need to provide the much-needed security for citizens”.
Likewise, another SAN and Rapporteur, Victims of Persecution, Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume, said: “I agree that the Nigeria Police, as far as providing equal security to all persons in Nigeria, has been proved to be incapable as well as unsuitable for that fundamental duty.
“I should think that what ought to be paramount in our minds is how to find a functional alternative to this failure.
Thus, trying to use the same Nigeria Police that has failed, to turn round to supervise such well-thought-out regional security alternative in South West looks like running whereas we are still in the direction.
“South West Governors as citizen Governors understand why the Constitution designated Governors as the Chief Security Officers of the States.
“He with the shoe knows where it pinches most. We should not play politics with the life of any Nigerian.
“What government is all about providing equal security to all citizens. Government is also all about looking out for a functional alternative, not dogmatism. It’s life first and any use of governmental power not in this direction is an immortal sin against God and humanity. We all well-meaning Nigerians need to encourage Amotekun.
However, another SAN, Chief Paul Ananaba, gave a divergent view, insisting that only a constitutional amendment would confer legitimacy to such regional security networks.
He said: “Under section 214 of the 1999 Constitution, there is only one police force in Nigeria.
“Until the Constitution is amended, anyone setting up regional police or security outfit is doing so at his own will.
“What the Governors should do is to reach an understanding with the Inspector General of Police. There must be consent of the security agencies.
“This is purely a Constitutional matter. Regional security outfits can only operate to the extent the IGP allows it.
“For example, they can arrest people or infringe in someone’s right, when such happens and they are sued, what will they say they are?
“Cases that could happen may not affect only the region within which the security outfit operates. Take the South West for instance that has boundaries with South-South and North Central. What if something happens that affects someone from the other regions, the constitutional issue will arise.
“I support regional security because of ways lives are lost in the country, but we should all sit down and harmonize it properly”, he added.