Let's Talk About It

STATE POLICE WILL BEGET POLICE STATE By Mazi Nnamdi Nwigwe

Many of the Governors now clamouring for creation of state police formations to be directly controlled by them are merely being selfish and short-sighted.

Whether canvassed as individuals or under the aegis of their amorphous “Governors Forum”, truth is that the proponents of state police have no mandate of their people to do so. If they feel so strongly about the introduction of state police, they should bring it up as an election issue in their party manifestoes as well as promote its inclusion in a possible constitutional amendment.

Otherwise, governors should concentrate on what they are there for. State police would not stop their thieving colleagues from appropriating state funds and flaunting their affluence.

State police will increase their distemper towards fellow citizens who may not share their views on a number of issues or who may raise alarm on the looting of state patrimony by them and their praise singers.

As for ordinary Nigerians and even some media houses supporting the idea of state police, one can only pity them for their naivety or ignorance.

Regional police experience in this country, in the pre-Independence era and immediately after Independence, is not what any deep thinking compatriot would want to be reminded of in the 21st century and 46 years after the Frankenstein’s monster was destroyed by the military.

There is little that can be said in support of the re-introduction of state police.

There is no way one can make a state police to operate independently. It must always be a hatchet force for the government that created it.  And that suggests that no election would be fair enough to get a government out of office, unless through a military overthrow.

And that is something we don’t want again to happen. Ask the Barrister Abengowes what the Northern Region local police, otherwise known as “Dandukas,” could do to any “foreigner” in their territory to canvass for elections outside the NPC, the Northern People’s Congress party that ruled and reigned in the North.

Their contemporaries in the Western and Eastern Regions fared no better. Let me quote one of our national dailies which editorially approves state police but recaptures what the institution stood for in the past:

 

“In the North, the local police made that region a ‘no-go’ area for electioneering opponents and parties… In the South, the local constabulary made it no secret that they were proud poodles of the powers-that-be. Opposition candidates were either framed on election time to get them out of the way; or muscled by thugs of the ruling party, with the local police looking the other way.”

Ingeniously, the same editorial asserts that “…even with the benefit of historical hindsight, the temper of the Nigerian politician-in-power appears to have changed little over the decades.” And in a somersault of logic and reason, the same editorial intones that  “…as valid as these fears are, the danger is that they are all tied down to past fears, which seem to have frozen present thinking for a more secure future.”

To the paper’s editors therefore, their brilliant “present thinking” is to resurrect the incubus of locally recruited and trained militia as state police. Nothing can be more laughable. A former Inspector General of police, a long time ago, had advocated for state governments to recruit more of their own indigenes and send to the Nigeria Police for absorption into the institution.

If the governments wanted such men to be deployed specifically to their states of origin, they could discuss the details with the Police High Command. The salaries and other benefits of such officers and men would be bore by the states while the overall operational command remains with the Police Headquarters under one Inspector General of Police.

That is a more sensible way of approaching the solution to the current insecurity which governors say is a result of in-sufficient personnel to police the country. Unless the governors have an ulterior motive for advocating state police, the idea of having their own men recruited for posting exclusively to their own states, under the command of the Inspector General and the President of the country, appears very commonsensical and should be the way to go. As we still wobble and fumble our way towards real democracy, let’s not deliberately introduce obstacles that guarantee failure.

Bringing back a police unit that is recruited and commanded by each of the 31+1 State Administrations is an invitation to anarchy and a Police State.

We certainly do not want that retreat to the past.

 

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