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Insecurity: Tinubu, govs mull state police

President Bola Tinubu has approved the constitution of a committee comprising state governors and representatives of the federal government to explore the modalities for the…

President Bola Tinubu has approved the constitution of a committee comprising state governors and representatives of the federal government to explore the modalities for the establishment of state police.

Tinubu gave the approval yesterday at a meeting with 36 state governors, attended by Vice-President Kashim Shettima, the National Security Adviser, the Inspector-General of Police, the Director-General of the DSS, and some ministers at the State House, Abuja.

He also endorsed the training and equipping of forest rangers by sub-national governments to safeguard human and natural resources in local communities as part of efforts to tackle the prevailing insecurity in the country.

President Tinubu, who stressed the need to recruit more police personnel to strengthen the force, informed the governors that the federal government would work with them and the National Assembly towards putting in place a mechanism that would engender state police instead of the vigilantes that are being used in some states.

He said modalities for state police and addressing security issues would be discussed further at the National Economic Council (NEC).

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The issue of state police has been a bone of contention between states and federal government in the past because of fear that the governors may use the police personnel to deal with perceived opponents.

The rising state of insecurity in various parts of the country with a surge in cases of killings and kidnappings seems to have changed the views of key stakeholders at federal and state level. But other stakeholders still believe that state police should not be considered.

Of recent, many states have established quasi security outfits, but pundits believe it will be better if the young and talented among the vigilantes would be coopted into the federal police and other security outfits.

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Reacting to the resolution of the president and governors, in an interview with our correspondent last night, a retired Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Wilson Inalegwu, described the move as “unserious”, adding that only law enforcement can solve current security challenges in the country.

Inalegwu, who specifically called on governors and the federal government to address social and economic issues that have been on the rise in recent times, wondered why those in government like duplicity of agencies and responsibilities.

“They want to kill Nigeria finally. That is not the way to address the present rate of insecurity. They are not serious. Where will the state police officers come from? Is it not from the present Nigeria Police Force? Are the state governors going to build training institutions for their police?

“So, you have to allow the federal police to be balanced, so that it can function well in any local government or state. When you have a government that cannot service the police well, and creates duplicity, what is the work of the civil defence?

“Ask governors how they handle commissioners of police in the states until they are out of power,” the retired senior police officer queried.

Narrating how governors make commissioners of police in their respective states subservient, he said, “You people need to do proper investigative journalism with state commissioners of police. If they tell you a little bit of it, you will run away from state police. I will not agree at all.

“They need to look into possible solutions. They are social issues; they are economic issues. So, law enforcement alone cannot work. If anybody thinks law enforcement alone can address the present security issues, the person is living in a fool’s paradise,” he said.

But a former commissioner of police in the FCT, Lawrence Alobi, said it was not out of place to have state police the way it is being done in some other countries.

According to him, it is expedient to do things differently in order to see different results.

Commenting on the matter in his back page column in the Daily Trust, Professor Jibrin Ibrahim said, “Widespread insecurity in the country has pushed many Nigerians into supporting the idea of a state police based on the justification that states are closer to local dynamics of insecurity and might be more effective in combatting it. 

“The reasoning is that members of the police being local and therefore knowledgeable about the community would be more effective in fighting crime, terrorism, civil unrest and insurgency. 

“The key idea, therefore, is that they would know or be able to easily find out the bad boys and girls and deal with them. In my view, that is where the trouble begins; who will define the bad boys and girls. 

“State police would be established by state houses of assembly and that means the enabling laws defining their mandates, structure and control would be determined by state governors because as we all know, the houses of assembly are essentially puppets of their governors and they do as they are instructed. 

“For governors, the bad boys are clear and fall into two categories. The first category comprises politicians who want to contest state power with the governors or their chosen successors, for those in their second term. The second category consists of all persons who dare to criticise the governors or question their misdeeds. 

“Over the years, many critics, including journalists and civil society activists, have been placed in arbitrary detention for daring to speak the truth about their governors. The governors cajole law enforcement offices to “deal” with their perceived enemies, without having a police force totally under their control. I am convinced that most (not all) governors would jail all their “enemies” if they have police forces they can control totally,” he said.

The Executive Director, Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) and Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (NCSSR), Dr Yunusa Zakari Yau, said that the consideration for the establishment of state police is desirable and would help to tackle insecurity in the country.

He, however, said that the powers of the state governors should be reduced so that if the state police eventually become a reality, it would not be abused by the state governors.

Also speaking to Daily Trust, the Executive Director, Cleen Foundation, Mr. Gad Peter, said he believes that establishing state police is something that should be seriously considered in the country.

 

President rules out food importation

Meanwhile, President Tinubu has advised against the idea of food importation and price control when local food producers should be encouraged to produce more food amid measures being taken to tackle the rising cost of food.

Addressing the gathering, Tinubu said “From Kano, we have read reports about large-scale hoarding of food in some warehouses. The National Security Adviser (NSA), the Inspector-General of Police, and the Director-General of the Department of State Services should coordinate very closely and ensure that security agencies in the states inspect such warehouses with follow up action.

“We must ensure that speculators, hoarders, and rent seekers are not allowed to sabotage our efforts in ensuring the wide availability of food to all Nigerians.

“What I will not do is to set a price control board. I will not also approve the importation of food. We should be able to get ourselves out of the situation we found ourselves in, because importation will allow rent seekers to perpetrate fraud and mismanagement at our collective expense. We would rather support farmers with the schemes that will make them go to the farm and grow more food for everyone in the country”, he said.

On his part, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) expressed appreciation to President Tinubu for convening the meeting, and affirmed the governors’ commitment to partnering closely with the federal government to address the lingering challenges.

Meanwhile, addressing State House reporters after the meeting that lasted for hours, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris said there will be more meetings and discussions to determine the modalities for the implementation of some of the agreements reached at the meeting. 

 

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