August 28, 2020

Senior lawyers, PANDEF flay FG on bid to control regional security outfits

Lawyers, AGF

File: Lawyers

File: Lawyers

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri  & Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo

The controversy surrounding the Federal Government’s plan to subsume regional security networks in the Nigerian Police Force continued yesterday, with Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, asking that the decision be rescinded.

South West governors had on Wednesday, towed the same line, as chairman of South-West Governors Forum, Rotimi Akeredolu, said in a television interview that the zone would not collapse its security network, Amotekun, into the Police.

The SANs yesterday urged the Federal Government to rescind its decision to collapse security networks across the country into the Nigerian Police Force, NPF, to keep them under the control of the Inspector-General of Police.

According to the senior lawyers who spoke to Vanguard in separate interviews, such a plan by the government will defeat the aim for which the regional security outfits came to be.

They argued that the essence of establishing such networks was to enhance security in the country, especially within the 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 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 fund it.

“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 security.  It 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.”

In his reaction, the Rapportuer, Victims of Persecution,  Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume, SAN, 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 same Nigeria Police that has failed, to turn round to supervise such well thought-out regional  security alternatives in South West looks like running in the   same direction.

“South West governors, as citizen governors, understand why the Constitution designated governors as the chief security officers of states.

“He who wears the shoe knows where it pinches most. We should not play politics with the life of any Nigerian.

‘’It’s life first and any use of governmental power not in this direction is an immortal sin against God and   humanity. 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 on such regional security networks.

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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.

“I support regional security because of the manner lives are lost in the country, but we should all sit down and harmonize it properly.’’

Also reacting to the development yesterday, the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, said the Federal Government might be dodging the state police strategy that many Nigerians advocated to curb insecurity by adopting the community policing strategy.

National Chairman of PANDEF and former military administrator of Akwa Ibom State, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga,retd, who made the assertion yesterday in Uyo, said though community policing is a welcome development, since government had begun to appreciate the need to localise security.

His words:  “I  think it was a week ago that the President released about N13.3billion for community policing. Over time, we talked about state police as a strategy to curbing insecurity, we adopted it during the 2014 National Conference,  but I don’t know why they don’t want to implement it.

“You see countries that have federal, state, local government police, and even their universities have police. But I think we are beginning to learn.  With the community policing, they are beginning to understand that you need the importance of localising security.”