February 16, 2024

Insecurity: RULAAC backs state police, asks FG to work out modalities

Lagos police arrest driver for packing 15 children inside car


By Biodun Busari

The Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) has thrown its weight behind the proposed state police amid prevalent insecurity in the country.

According to RULAAC, the largest percentage of funding for police has rested on governors over the years, while the federal government merely sees it as a mere contribution, hence the need for states to police their territories. 

The rights organisation, however, recommended that the federal government should facilitate modalities for the operation of the proposed state police which should include autonomy.

RULAAC made these known in a statement signed on Friday by its Executive Director, Okechukwu Nwanguma.

Vanguard recalls that President Bola Tinubu and the governors on Thursday agreed to establish state police in the country.

Minister of Information and National Orientation disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of an emergency meeting summoned by the President at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The Minister said there will be a series of meetings to fine-tune the modalities for setting up state police.

Reacting to the development, RULAAC said, “It is not in doubt that the Nigeria police force is over-centralized, under-resourced and ill-equipped, and suffers from political interference. Unable or unwilling to ensure public safety, many officers have turned to crime. 

“The federal government which, constitutionally,  has responsibility for the police has been perennially unable to adequately fund the police. 

“In fact, the federal government’s funding of the police represents a mere contribution as state governors, corporate entities, and individuals have remained the life wire for the police. Therefore, calls for State Police have been recurring.”

The organisation spoke about the concerns of Nigeria saying, “However, some Nigerians express serious fears about the dangers of allowing State Governors, most of whom operate like emperors, to set up State Police in their states. The fears are very well founded, though.” 

It, however, reiterated that, “Whereas the fears of those who oppose state police are founded and they are justified in their opposition to state police, there are also arguments in favour of State police.”

“Ideally, and if Nigeria is truly operating a federal system and the states are the federating units, the states also ought to have their own state police to enforce state laws just as the states have state – as opposed to Federal – High Courts, as well as state- as opposed to National – Independent Electoral Commission. 

“It is also our considered view that policing is local and that the most single serious obstacle to police effectiveness is the over-centralization rather than ‘’localization’’ or decentralization of the police. 

“There is, therefore, the need to localize policing or decentralize policing authority and resources to enhance effectiveness and efficiency. Decentralization can take different forms. State police is one form.”

Asking the federal government to work on modalities, RULAAC said, “But modalities must be put in place to address the genuine concerns expressed by those who oppose it before it can be established in any state. 

“The other is to devolve policing authority and resources to the lower levels of the police from the Force Headquarters, through the Zonal Commands, to the State Commands, to the Area and Divisional Commands. 

“This way, the commanders at those levels would have reasonable autonomy to take initiatives and make decisions without having to refer to the Inspector General of Police at the Force Headquarters, Abuja. 

“Ultimately, the answer to police ineffectiveness, lack of professionalization and deficit in community trust and partnership would be community policing which, by its defining characteristics, is also democratic policing.”