National security is the first duty of government but we are also committed to reversing the substantial erosion of civil liberties. — Theresa May
There has been the strident call to allow States in Nigeria to have their own Police Force. Until now, the powers that be, at the topmost échelon have opposed this.
An opinion leader says,
I have always been against State police, mainly on the grounds that Governors will abuse it.
I have now changed my mind. If am to remain intellectually honest, I must admit that the fear of abuse is never a string enough argument against devolution.
You can put in safeguards against abuse
The fear of abuse and misuse is not unjustified. It would probably happen.
Someone rightly pointed out that abuse of power can happen at any level, and is no valid argument against the State Police Controversy.
But The Same Applies To Federal Control. The President Can Abuse His Powers And Is Immune From Prosecution. A President Is Even More Protected When He Leaves Office
What safeguards can be put in place?
If a Governor controls his state police, how exactly would he be stopped from misusing that power? Being immune from prosecution, he could instruct all manners of illegalities without repercussion. When he is out of office, that’s the end of the matter.
A President could do the same too, though!
With the unending Boko Haram problem and herdsmen maiming and general insecurity in Nigeria, government seems to have had an epiphany that the fear of Governors misusing state police to perpetrate illegality pales in comparison to the unending current trouble.
President Muhammadu Buhari, Thursday Threw His Weight Behind State And Community Policing In The Country If The Present Security Challenge Across The Country Must Be Addressed In All Its Ramifications. is in the news.
The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo is on the same page with his Principal.
We Cannot Realistically Police A Country The Size Of Nigeria Centrally From Abuja. State Police And Other Community Policing Methods Are Clearly The Way To Go.
..Prof Osinbajo told participants at the two-day National Security Summit organised by the Senate.
As usual, Opposition is quick to read meanings into this apparent capitulation / volte face in policy.
Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, the Commonsense / Twitter Senator tweets,
Just Read A Story With The Headline ‘buhari Backs State Police’ On @vanguardngrnews And I Laughed.
Now That Elections Are Just Around The Corner, A Man Who Was The Chief Opponent Of Restructuring Wants To Rebrand As Its Chief Proponent. Fool Me Once, Shame On You. Fool Me Twice..
I think this does not make commonsense, and I said so in a response, viz:
It Is Precisely Because Election Is Coming That He Shouldn’t Support This. (Possible. Misuse Of The Police At State Level To Rig, And Cause All Sorts Of Atrocities ) .
So, This Logic About The Imminent Election Prompting This Support Just Doesn’t Cut It!
I do not believe policies should be cast in stone. Decisions should be fluid and taken based on evolving / prevailing circumstances.
The current situation where the Inspector General of Police in Abuja has to be notified of Herdsmen slaughtering folks in Damaturu, before policemen in that region can act cannot be allowed to persist.
The locals know the terrain better, understand the people, speak the language, can ferret out information faster. A Governor is closer to his people than the Powers in Abuja. Hr should be in TRUE control of the security apparatuses in his domain.
Someone else suggests,
Perhaps another way is to not create any new State Police structure. The organization, running and control of the Civil Defence could be transferred to the States and their powers be increased to cover offences bordering on misdemeanors while Federal Police handles serious felony/crimes
But I think this is still the same as State Police creation through the backyard!
The Governor is supposed to be the Number One Security Man of a state. You can’t have responsibility without power to dispense the responsibility, as it is now, where a Governor can not issue instructions to the State Commissioner, and have them executed!
Therefore I think the changed thinking about Community / Local Policing is a late step in the right direction. The issue of possible abuse by the State Helmsman is a fallout that will just need to be addressed somehow!
Let’s tackle security frontally, now, then we can tackle abuses (if they happen), later.!