The Presidency said, on Tuesday, that many states agitating for state police can hardly pay their workers’ monthly salaries.
Senior Special Assistant to the President, Garba Shehu, who stated this on a Channels Television programme, Sunrise Daily, said the lack of capacity of states to manage state police informed the need by the Federal Government to embrace community policing which, according to him, is more sustainable.
Spokesman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, Abdulrazaq Barkindo, could not be reached by Vanguard for comments on the issue last night, as telephone calls to his mobile phone rang out.
A text message sent to his phone was also not replied at press time.
Vanguard reports that at the last National Economic Council, NEC, virtual meeting coordinated from the office of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State, while briefing journalists, had announced that the Federal Government approved N13.3 billion for the take-off of community policing initiative across the country.
There also had been a clamour for state policing in some parts of the country, which led to the creation of regional outfits such as the Western Nigeria Security Network, code-named Operation Amotekun, in the South-West states.
States in the South-East and South-South zones of the country are also mulling special security networks to checkmate the high level of insecurity in the country, including banditry, herders/farmers’ clashes, kidnapping, armed robbery and other violent crimes.
Buhari’s concerns— Garba Shehu
Garba Shehu said: “For President Muhammadu Buhari, the concern has always been about the spread and abuse of weapons in the hands of police.
“He said repeatedly that, look, a lot of the states that had clamoured for state police, many of them are unable to cope with salary payment.
“If you hire a community policeman and give him a gun, and keep him for five, six months without salary, what do you expect?
“Efforts have been taken so that situations of this kind do not arise. Therefore, there is a standard national procedure and prescription for each of the states to comply with.”
The Presidential spokesman said Amotekun cannot operate outside the structures laid down by the police authorities.
“Whatever name they go by, Amotekun or whatever, they will be streamlined and they will be run in accordance with the structure as defined by the Inspector-General of Police.
“They will be localised, they will be owned by local communities, they will be managed by them. You know, the constitution of the committee has been defined to include council chairmen, religious leaders, traditional leaders, civil society groups and all of that.
“They can choose their own nomenclature, but it doesn’t make a difference. There is a general structure for all state and local council community policing mechanisms and this should abide in the states.
“So, we are going to have a single type structure community policing across the country and whatever is not in line with this does not have a place in the new scheme of things.”
While faulting the agitation for state police, Shehu said: “The essence of government funding at this time is to do two or three things: one is to ensure training for those who are to be recruited to join the police service.
His words: “Two, to enlighten the public about the functionality of the new system and three is to procure equipment. But above all is the need to streamline the processes embarked upon by the states and the sub-regions.
“As members of the community, we know ourselves better, we know all the nooks, the crannies, we know who is who and so, therefore, it is not difficult for intelligence to be supplied for effective law and order management in the community.”
The Presidential aide noted that the history of community policing goes back to the First Republic, adding that the native authority police was an instrument by the ruling powers.
Garba Shehu maintained that he is not surprised that the regional police was abolished for the creation of national police.
“The history of the state or community police in the country has been well-documented, going back to the First Republic.
“It is clear that the native authority police that we had then was merely an instrument for the operation of people that opposed the powers that hold at the native authority or regional level.
“The country’s experience was a hurried one, indeed, and it is not surprising, therefore, that regional police were abolished for national police to ensure proper management and control which the police had become subjected.’’