Ike Ekweremadu, the Deputy Senate President, has added his voice to those advocating for the establishment of state police in Nigeria, insisting that there is an urgent need to decentralise the Nigerian Police as its current set-up is not functional enough.
Ekweremadu said this at the Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy and Social Sciences, Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA, where his maiden lecture as a Professor and Senior Mentoring Scholar, E-Governance and Strategic Government Studies.
A statement released by Uche Anichukwu, his media spokesperson, on Sunday quoted the Deputy Senate President as saying that every state should be granted the constitutional powers to safeguard its territory to avoid a repeat of the recent Plateau killings.
He said he would sponsor a bill in the National Assembly to ensure the decentralisation of the Police force and the creation of the state police.
Ekweremadu said, “As far as I am concerned, whatever we are doing now is certainly not working and we cannot continue to do the same thing and expect a different result.
“The real tragedy of the Plateau massacre is that we risk more attacks and loss of lives unless we decentralise our policing and allow every state at least to take its fate in its own hands.
“So, despite the failure of previous attempts to decentralise the police during constitution amendments, I will introduce a bill that will bring about state police or decentralised policing once I return to Nigeria.”
Making reference to the policing set-up of the U.S., Ekweremadu faulted the structure of Nigeria’s federalism, stating that the country granted too much powers to a single individual to police the entire country.
He said, “Unlike here in the United States where the component states, counties, big institutions set up police service to address their local needs, the Nigerian constitution vests the security of a very vast, multifarious and highly populated country in the hands of the Federal Government.
“The internal security of Nigeria depends on one man or woman, who sits in Abuja as the Inspector-General of Police. The governor of a state, though designated as the chief security officer of the state by the constitution, cannot direct the police commissioner of his state on security matters, the commissioner will have to clear with the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, who will clear with a Deputy Inspector-General of Police, who will also clear with the Inspector-General of Police, who may in turn need to clear with the President, who is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. By the time the clearance comes, if it ever does, it would have been late.
“Nigeria is the only federal system I know, which operates a unitary or centralised policing. Ironically, it was not the case in the beginning. The founding fathers agreed on a federal constitution which allowed the component units to set up local police organisations. But it was overturned by the military and successive civilian regimes have continued to play the ostrich.”
According to the Enugu state Senator, several high-profile politicians, including serving and former governors, who were not disposed to the establishment of the state police have now clamoured for its creation.
“I think people are now facing the stark reality. I have been getting calls from serving and former governors and key players and interests, who were opposed to the idea of state police. They confessed that they had seen what some of us have been shouting from the rooftops over the years. They want the bill introduced.
“The members of the (Nigeria) Governors’ Forum are also favourably disposed to the idea now. In fact, their Chairman, the Governor of Zamfara State (Abdulaziz Yari), one of the epicentres of the incessant killings recently ‘resigned’ his position as the chief security officer of his state as the current constitutional arrangement denies him the powers, manpower and resources to stem the killings in his state.
“The bill will also address the fears of Nigerians opposed to state police. Just like the judiciary, the bill will provide for a central police service commission and also structure the state police services in ways that immune them from abuse by any governor or state. It is also a bill we can conclude in record time,” Ekweremadu added.