lady in Ibadan

SEVERAL state governments have indicated their intentions to arm their vigilante outfits with sophisticated weapons to protect their innocent, unarmed, law-abiding residents. The states include Zamfara, Katsina, Benue and Ondo states. These are among the most terrorised states in the country.

Some other state governments, interest groups and true federalism advocates have only verbally agitated for creation of state police. The current template of centralised policing has woefully failed to engage the meteoric rise in the number and sophistication of violent crimes and terrorism that have confounded our security architecture.

Criminals and other ill-intentioned non-state actors have invaded our gaping ungoverned spaces attacking innocent citizens, kidnapping for ransom, waging medieval-style wars of “conquest” and even establishing personal fiefdoms in “conquered” areas.

Since the security of lives and property is the first duty of government, we strongly support the calls for well-trained and armed state police to complement the efforts of their federal counterparts.

As usual, the Presidency and the Chief of Defence Staff, Lt-General Lucky Irabor, have issued statements indicating the Federal Government’s continued opposition to arming of state vigilante groups. 

The opposition to state police is based on the argument that it will turn governors into “monsters” and encourage separatism. Some also say it will threaten the constitutional rights of opposition parties and non-indigenes.

These may be the red herrings used to disguise the real reasons for the retention of our increasingly ineffective centralised policing structure. This was the system used by the British colonialists and military governments to maintain their unitary systems of control. 

Some see its continued retention as an ethno-religious and regional agenda by a section of the country to continue the domination and subjugation of the rest.

The opposition to true federalism and state-run police forces is more for political ends than anything else. That is why, whatever positive points raised in favour of state police are arrogantly brushed aside by the political establishment. 

As they continue to oppose state police, the Nigeria Police Force continues to be lopsidedly staffed, while its command and control lack merit, order and competence.

Not only that, the armed forces, police, security agencies and other uniformed agencies allow armed-to-the teeth non-state actors roam our forests and farmlands, especially in the Middle Belt and Southern States, killing, kidnapping and forcefully occupying indigenous people’s lands. President Muhammadu Buhari’s government does not even regard the herdsmen terrorists, one of the most murderous terror outfits in the world, as terrorists. 

Only a Federal regime that truly has the welfare and safety of all Nigerians (not just a favoured section) at heart will permit a security system that can work for all. Apart from hidden ethnic and regional agenda, there is no credible reason not to adopt a decentralised and effective police structure.

It is a task that must be done.

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