April 30, 2024

Pushed to the wall over state police(3) 

Who else but Professor Benjamin Nwabueze (2), by Eric Teniola

From last week, continues the narrative on the journey of the Nigeria Police with reference from the transition from the Aguiyi Ironsi to the Yakubu Gowon military regimes 

When General Yakubu Dan-Yumma “Jack” Gowon (89) assumed power in August 1966, he maintained the status quo of the Nigeria Police as the sole authority in charge of our security. However, in September 1966, he inaugurated an ad hoc constitutional committee to determine Nigeria’s future. The Nigeria Police Force was one of the key issues discussed at the conference. 

The Western and Lagos delegation was led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo who earlier in September was named the Leader of the Yorubas in Ibadan by the LEADERS OF THOUGHT, including the traditional rulers and prominent Yoruba elders at an event presided over by Colonel Robert Adeyinka Adebayo, the then Governor of Western Region. It was the first and last time any Yoruba leader was declared leader of the Yorubas

Other Western delegates at the ad hoc Constitutional Conference were Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, Alhaji Femi Okunnu, Professors Hezekiah Oluwasanmi, Ayo Ogunseye, Sam Aluko and Akin Mabogunje. The Northern delegation was led by Sir Kashim Ibrahim. Other members from the North were Alhaji Inua Wada, Sir Aminu Kano, Chief Joseph Sarwuan Tarka, Alhaji Abdul Razak and Chief Josiah Sunday Olawoyin. The Eastern delegation was led by Professor Eni Njoku. Other members from the East include Chief C.C. Mojekwu, Chief E. Eyo and Chief Matthew Mbu. The Mid-West delegation was led by Chief Eromosele Anthony Enahoro. Other members of the delegation were Chief Edwin Clark, Chief J.I.G. Onyia and Dr. Mudiaga Odje. The Mid-West delegation was assisted by Chief T.E.A. Salubi, Dr. Christopher Okojie and Dr. D.P. Lawani. 

Chief Edwin Clark will be 97 on May 25. 

On the issue of the police, the following was agreed at the conference. 

There shall be a Nigeria Police Force which shall be organized in Regional units composed entirely in each Region of personnel indigenous to that Region (2) The operational control of the units in each Region shall be the responsibility of the Regional Commissioner of Police. 

N.B: There were some disagreements on the right of the Regional Government to give directions to the Regional Commissioner as follows: “Directions with respect to the maintaining and securing of safety and public order within the Region or any part thereof may be given to the Regional Commissioner of Police by the Head of the Regional Government and the Regional Commissioner shall comply with those directions or cause them to be complied with; provided that before carrying out any such directions which may involve the use of arms the Commissioner may request that the matter should be referred to the Police Council for their direction”.

The East proposed that the words ‘Police Council’ should be replaced by the words ‘Regional Security Committee’ in order to bring it into line with the corresponding arrangements in the case of the Army. 

The Mid-West reserved its position on the clause ‘which may involve the use of arms’.  (3) Training facilities, depots and stores shall be organised on a Regional basis. Recruitment shall be the responsibility of the Regional Commissioner of Police acting in accordance with policy laid down by the Regional Government. (4) At the national level there shall be a Police Council which shall be responsible for -(a) Laying down general policy which should include the strength of police personnel in each Region, types and quantities of equipment, weapons, minimum standards of recruitment, promotion, discipline, etc; (b) overall operation control of the Regional units in the event of the Regional Governments requesting the Council for Police assistance to cope with any actual or threatened security situation within the Region beyond or likely to be beyond the capability of the Regional unit; provided that a Regional Commissioner with the consent of the Head of the Regional Government may request the Commissioner of another Region for police assistance in an urgent situation and that such a request shall not be granted or refused except with the approval of the Head of Regional Government concerned.’

N.B: There was slight disagreement on the composition of the Police Council. There was general agreement that it should include: the Head of the Federal Government; Heads of the Regional Governments; the Inspector-General of Police; Regional Commissioners; the Minister responsible for police matters.

The North proposed in addition the Chairman of the Public Service Commission.

There was also disagreement on the terms of the office Inspector-General of Police. ‘The East and West proposed that the Office of the Inspector-General of Police shall be held in rotation by the Regional Commissioners of Police for fixed periods not exceeding 12 months. The North and Lagos proposed a period of three years and the Mid-West proposed that this should be held on permanent basis.’

(5) The Police Council shall be served by a Secretariat under the Inspector-General of Police. The personnel in the Secretariat shall be drawn from the Regions in equal numbers. (6) Five years after the new Constitution has come into effect, all local authority police forces shall cease to exist, and in the meantime there shall be a progressive reduction in those local authority forces.’

East: (i) Original proposal. ‘The police shall be regionalised.’ (ii) Revised proposal. As in progress report.

To be concluded 

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