BidVertiser

Friday, 11 January 2013

TO THOSE IN FAVOUR OF STATE POLICE


                                                                                                             
Recently, the governors under the auspices of the Governors’ Forum demanded for the creation of state police. Since the governors made this demand, the issue has refused to abate as it is being discussed at different forums by Nigerians, stating its advantages and disadvantages. The governors who made the first demand state police feel that state police will encourage effective policing of the communities as those to be recruited into the state police force will come from the communities where they will work as police officers. The governors feel, with this arrangement, the police officers operating in their communities, will find it easy to identify and arrest the criminals in their communities.
The governors further said since Nigeria is a federation, each state has the right to create its own police force. They also said that they are the ones funding the police in their various states and that the Federal Government was not doing well in terms of security management in the country. Many Nigerians are toeing the part of the governors saying that Nigeria is ripe for state police while others are vehemently against it. Those against state police say the governors will use them to oppress their political opponents and perpetrate electoral fraud during elections. They gave reasons to support their arguments by pointing to states where opposition political parties hardly win elections as the ruling parties use the Federal police to their advantage.
However, the disadvantages of state police outweigh the advantages. First, policing is not about the police operating their communities of birth. Policing is about intelligence gathering which enables the police have access to genuine information. Such information helps the police to carry out their statutory duties. Without intelligence gathering, there cannot be proper policing; it is not about indigenes of a community being enlisted in the police force. If policing is all about recruiting the indigenes of a community into the police force to work in their communities, there won’t be need for International Police (Interpol) where criminals from other countries are apprehended in other countries.
For instance, Col. Suka Dimka who assassinated Gen. Murtala Mohammed in the 1976 aborted coup d’etat was not arrested by policemen or security agents from his home town or community. He was not arrested by security agents in Lagos where he executed the foiled coup but was caught in Abakaliki by a combined team of army and the police. Crime detection and prevention are not done by policemen or security agents from the communities where the crimes are committed.
Lawrence Nomanyagbon Anini and his cohort, Monday Osunobr, terrorised Benin City in the 1980s. He was a taxi driver but later joined Osunbor and they became car hijackers, bus robbers and bank thieves. In August 1986, a bank robbery occurred where a police officer and a child were killed and was linked to Anini. Within a span of three months, Anini killed 9 police officers. On December3, 1986, Anini was caught in a house in Benin in the midst of six female friends. He was tried and convicted of most of his charges and was executed on March 29, 1987. It may interest you to know that he was not arrested by policemen from his own community rather by policemen who didn’t even know him but acted on the intelligence they gathered on him!
During the Saddam Hussein debacle, he went into hiding but was captured on December 13, 2003 through intelligence gathering and diligent surveillance. Saddam who was tagged as an invincible man was later found in tiny cellar at a farmhouse about 15 km (10 miles) south of his hometown Tikrit. Who could have expected a president of nation like Iraq, hide in hole like a mouse? Would he have been caught if the American security agents didn’t act on intelligence they gathered? Were the American security agents from the same community with President Saddam Hussein before they were able to arrest him?
The head of the Islamist group, al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden was caught and killed in his compound in Bilal Town, Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 2, 2011 by the members of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group, 160 Special Operations and the Aviation Regiment (Airborne). These security agents where not from the same community with Osama bin Laden before they were able to arrest him. How much of Bilal Town did the American security agents knew before they were able to arrest Osama bin Laden?
The proponents of state police say state governors are the ones funding the police in their states. The governors don’t fund the police, all they do is pay allowances to the police officers attached to their families and buy vans for the police. Is this how to fund the police? Do they pay the salaries of the police in their states? The governors are using the security votes they get from the Federal Government to pay the allowances of the police in their states and not their internally generated revenues (IGR). The governors that are clamouring for state police now will later ask the Federal Government for financial assistance because they can’t bear the financial burden. Adding the salaries of state police to those of the Federal police will increase the financial load of the Federal Government. Have the governors been able to pay the N18,000 minimum wage in their states? When floods ravaged some parts of the country last year, the various states affected by the floods, cried to the Federal Government for financial assistance because they did not have the funds with which to manage the emergency.   
Others in favour of state police say many states already have Para-military agencies like the Lagos State Transport Management Authority (LASTMA), Kick Against Indiscipline (KIA),  Hisbah Guards in Kano State etc. But do the people who are making references to these states with Para-military agencies know the havoc these security agencies are perpetrating in their states? We all know the activities of LASTMA and KIA in Lagos State.  For instance, LASTMA arrest motorists indiscriminately. Presently, if a car breaks down on the road in Lagos State, instead of LASTMA officials to assist the owner in towing it to the corner of the road so that the owner can call a mechanic to help repair it, they will rather tow the car to their premises and impose a fine of N25,000 on the owner under the guise that the car is obstructing traffic. The question Lagosians are asking is, will a car owner carry his faulty car on his head in order to remove it from the road? Or, what is the offence of a car owner whose car suddenly breaks down on the road? Also, there are instances where KAI officials take traders’ wares such as tubers of yam, rice, raw meat, palm oil, vegetable oil etc to their homes!
Complaints have been trailing the various state Para-military agencies across the country. Commenting on the activities of Hisbah Guards operating in the North, Mr. Tobias Michael Idika, President of the Kano State Chapter of Ohaneze Ndigbo, called on President Goodluck Jonathan to proscribe the guards which is also known as Shariah Police. According to Idika, “Over the years, the North has been running State Police in the name of Hisbah Guards and we have pragmatic evidence on the victimisation of our people by armed Hisbah Guards, who were given power to waylay, arrest, fine and prosecute their victims. In Kano State for instance, Igbo businessmen have lost billions of naira in the severance attacks by the Hisbah Guards targeted at their lives and business concerns....”
This is a state security agency that is not legalize to carry fire arms that is already wrecking havoc on non-indigenes, what will be the fate of non-indigenes if state police is created that will be armed legally? Will non-indigenes have respite in the various states they are domiciled? Mr. Idika went further, “There is no gainsaying the fact that the proliferation of militant organisations such as Hisbah Guards contributed to a large extent to the spate of insecurity and socio-religious violence that have become the bane in some parts of the North”. Now, everyone can envisage what will happen if there is state police; there will be unimaginable oppression, victimisation and unprovoked killings of non-indigenes during crisis period. What do you think will happen to non-indigenes if there is crisis between them and the indigenes, wouldn’t the officials of the state police be used against them? Even with the Federal Police on ground, some police officers do take side with people from their tribes when handling cases at the police stations. What then will happen if we have state police?
State police cannot solve the insecurity problem in the country if the Federal Government does not create an enabling environment for job creation for the unemployed. State police will lead to oppression, victimisation and unprovoked killings of non-indigenes in the states.

       

                                                    



             


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