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Author: Watchtower
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Will State Police Solve Our Internal Security Challenges? By Ayodele Adio



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[Image: Nigerian-Police.jpg?ssl=1]

Contrary to what appointed federal executives regurgitate, Nigeria’s internal security architecture is fractured, and in several ways, broken. Hardly would you find a country that loses close to twenty thousand of its own citizens, within three years, via acts of bestiality, yet maintaining a helpless state of inertia. In Nigeria, however, where a barrel of oil commands a lot more attention than the life of a citizen, such crass belligerence is fast becoming the norm. I could easily bet a finger that while this article goes to press, another innocent Nigeria would have been gruesomely murdered, either in a communal clash or by the cruel vendetta of ‘unknown’ gunmen.

The heightened state of insecurity is now forcing the hand of the National Assembly to, by an act of amendment, make constitutional provisions for a decentralised Police force. It is believed that State and local policing will reverse the depressingly consistent killings and breakdown of order in our society. The argument is that locals who understand the language, terrain and cultural dynamism of a given community will be better positioned to effectively police such a community. Of course, the idea of state policing proved effective in the pre-colonial era and to a large extent during colonial rule. The ‘Dogaris’ in the north, ‘Ilaris’, ‘Emeses’, and ‘Egba’ police in the west, were examples of local policing that worked and had measurable impact.

We must however not forget why a unitary police command was adopted in 1966, even though the 1963 constitution permitted regional legislature to make provisions for the maintenance of native police. Clearly, the politicians in the First Republic lacked the temperament and maturity to preside over the native police as they turned them into agents of repression. It is no surprise that the likes of Balarabe Musa and Tanko Yakassai are today strongly opposed to state policing, because they were on the receiving end of such abuse in the First Republic.

If a decentralised police was so effective, General Aguiyi Ironsi would have had no need to set up the Gobir committee at the wake of the first military coup and charge them with the following words, “There is need for a clarification of the general impression held in this country about the services provided by the police and prisons. You will therefore have to examine the factors which have contributed in producing a distorted image of the machinery for the police administration in the minds of Nigeria republic and formulate concrete proposals for correcting any deficiencies”.

The kind of insecurity we face today can only be dealt with if the proposals for state and local policing is part of a broader socio-political strategy that not only deals with the command and control structure of the police but also certain constitutional and economic reforms that target the most vulnerable parts of the country. The solution to this conundrum will be finding the right answers to the following questions:

What will be the relationship between the federal police and the state police in terms of operational jurisprudence? How will small and unviable states fund a state and local police? Who will the new police chiefs report to, the executive governor or the ministry of justice? Who is the police set up to serve, the regime or the people?

Finally, asides leading various internal reforms, we much recognise that our deepest challenges are spill-overs from a poverty stricken Sahel region. Countries like Chad, Mali, Niger are extremely poor countries, with serious environmental and economic challenges necessitating the movement of their people into our country. We must respond using witty diplomacy and foreign policy tools to work with these countries to ensure their stability, common prosperity and consequently common security.

If we do not deal decisively with the issues in the Sahel, we will only be wasting precious time attempting to lick our elbows.