April 22, 2024

To get state police right, we must rejig INEC – Jonathan

Goodluck Jonathan

...says, we can’t manage internal security without states police

By Gift ChapiOdekina Odekina, Abuja

Former president Good luck Jonathan has drummed support for state Police, saying that if it must be holistically implemented, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, must be rejigged.

This is also as he emphasized that the state police must not be used against or to the advantage of any political party.

Jonathan stated this at a one-day national dialogue on state Policing held by the House of Representatives in Abuja.

In his words: “The issue today is very critical. One thing is that we don’t need to debate on whether we should have state police or not. I think the matter has been concluded. The issue is the operations of the police.

“So if we are talking about State police we must also rejig INEC and the police must not be used against or to the advantage of any political party.

“The issue of voting, the polling booths of INEC and the use of police during elections has to be reviewed by the national assembly.

“Even in polling units in our country, this is the only country I visited that has isolated polling units. Most other counties I go to observe elections they have polling centres in a primary school or secondary school and within that polling centre they have five to ten polling units within the centre. I just flew back from Senegal.

“You see the police are always at the gate. They don’t go into the compound. They don’t go even where votes are taking place. The citizens are also disciplined enough not to behave in a way that would attract the police. we must find a way to make the use of police for elections very limited. Not what we hear today that security operatives have seized materials.

“So the national assembly needs to look into all these. These are the areas that we have to concentrate. The issue of the need for states to have their own police is not negotiable. There is no way we can continue this kidnapping that is going on in this country.

Speaking further on the issue of kidnapping, Jonathan said that “Commercial kidnapping started around 2006, when I was governor. But it started in the Niger Delta. Now it is all over the country.

“The only thing that can help us if we cannot stop it completely at least we reduce it to the barest minimum is for states to have their police.

READ ALSO: State police: Shettima, Jonathan, Abdulsalami, govs, others for Reps’ national dialogue

“I was a governor. I operated at the state level for eight years, deputy governor and governor and getting to the centre, vice president and president for another eight years. I know that in Bayelsa and other states they have some element of security operatives, that assisted the police to work very well.

“In Bayelsa State when we took over the state was almost ungovernable. Abdulsalami would remember that when elections were to be conducted in December 1998, the security situation was so bad so the elections were pushed to January 99.

“When we took over, the state was in crisis. Niger Delta agitation was there. The criminal elements were also operating in the creeks and they are causing issues for market women and others until Alamesiegha then the governor, set up the Bayelsa volunteers that worked with the police. We built stations around, parts of the creeks and the boys volunteered to work with the police and that brought the situation down. So there is no way we can manage internal security if states would not have their police.

“But how would the state police function visavis the national security architecture. When I set up the 2014 national dialogue, during that period we had lots of challenges in the country. people were agitating so many areas. but one thing that the almost 500 agreed without much ado was the issue of state police. when that issue came up every supported the issue of state police, so we cannot move away from state police.

“The issue of state police was accepted, the issue national border force was also accepted and the issue of coast guard was also accepted. and the national assembly while they were debating on conducting the public hearing on state police, these issues of national borders force must be considered.

“Yes the immigration and customs carry out border controls but they cannot play the role of national borders force. When we have the national border force, that we would be able to contain these enemies. Also the customs and immigrants they also carry weapons but they may not have been sufficiently to confront these criminals. I was in the customs for two years before I entered the university what was given to us was not enough to confront the criminals. so these issues must be integrated with the issue of state police.

“Could the state police also for the riverine area’s like the Niger Delta also play that role of coast guards? could the ones in the boundary areas play the role of the national border force? this would surely help the country. We are not going to waste our time debating whether we should have state police or not.