Constitutionally, the core function of the Nigerian Police is the maintenance of public order through crime detection and prevention so as to safeguard the lives of citizens and their property.
However, confidence reposed in the Police by Nigerians is fast eroding. The public perception is that the Police are biased in favour of the rich against the poor.
According to Nigerians, “when a matter involves the rich and the poor, investigation is usually titrated in favour of the rich, a situation where the average Nigerian does not find solace in the Police any longer, the ability of the Police to fight crime and capacity to investigate has been attenuated by poor motivation; their lives are not protected”.
This has generated heated debates at different fora.
The Speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly, Honourable Adesina Michael Adeyemo, who is also a legal practitioner, in a chat with our correspondent articulated strongly for the establishment of State Police.
Few years down the line, a committee headed by Parry Osayande was constituted to embark on reforms in the police. Do you think there is a need to reform the Nigeria Police Force?
One of the agencies that have to be strengthening for the purpose of our democratic system is the Nigerian Police (NP). I was a bit worried when you use the word- ‘Nigeria Police Force (NPF), we are not in military era, so we have to start from there. When you go to other countries, we have the New York Police (NYP), because that mentality of ‘force’ does not give room and approach for controlling or handling cases by the police.
They see themselves more of military or force like the Navy Force, Air Force, their own is beyond that, since we are in a democratic system. The Nigerian Police has to be seriously overhauled; it is not about changing the Inspector General of Police (IG).
We need to adopt the approach of community policing and what we mean by community policing is that those who are going to police an area should be from that community and once we are talking of community policing, we can now take it to the level of state police.
If you bring a Divisional Police Officer (DPO) that is not from a particular area, study the function of what the average DPO’s are doing in the stations. From my own experience, immediately a DPO is posted to a particular station, he will start to be asking questions such as, who are the people he can be relating with in the area?
If he is from that area, he will understand the terrain, he will not allow criminality to overrun his community considering his family, you will see that there will be commitment and dedication. We cannot say we are running federal system of government and have a central unit of police, it runs contrary, sounds so conflicting.
There is no peace means to federal system of government, it is either you run it absolutely or you don’t run a federal system of government at all. So, we must go back to that element and principle of federal system of government that will give us federal implementations from all the states, so that the federal government will have few things to be concentrated upon and they will be effective on it.
If the federal government concentrated so much on the military, the issue of Boko Haram will not be an issue for them to tackle, but the federal government is attending to so many things, that’s a threat on our territorial integrity, if one small unit can annex and take over some parts of Nigeria and we don’t face the reality that we must let devolution of power, restructuring of the country.
When you have state police, by the time the group cells have being formed, information will get to the traditional heads, the state police would have been able to be on ground rather than waiting for the mobilization of troops or mobile police from one part of the country to come and curb the situation, you nip it in the bud.
And that is what is going to help us; intelligence gathering will be effective, because of the local content in our policing.
From your submissions, it is glaring that you are really agitating for the creation of state police. Don’t you think the manipulations of the governors are enough to jettison its creation?
Is the federal government not making use of the Nigerian Police against the governors? What happened in River States against Amaechi? That is what we are saying.
There are checks and balances in our laws, you cannot just do anything. The governors cannot just wake up overnight and continue to use the police against perceived enemies, but the federal government does it, because they know that the governors are powerless. The state government will not do it when they know that there are federal police to checkmate them.
The federal police is just going to be there to regulate as we have a regulatory agencies. It is a matter of the law that you put in place to establish the police, infact, governors may not even have the control over them, it may be an independent body as we have it in the judicial system.
People believed that the executives do control the judiciary, but it is not pronounced, same may happen to the state police, can a governor remove the judge?
We should have a level of checks and balances. There is going to be an agency at the federal level such as the FBI that will regulate the system, where the matter is beyond the power of the state, then the central police will come in and work with the state to get to the root to curb it. So, it is a case of pot calling kettle black.
With the creation of state police, don’t you think the unity of the country would be threatened?
It will not! Why are we making our unity to be a conditional unity, that we cannot do certain things because it will affect our unity? In what way is it going to affect our unity?
The state police cannot operate independently of the judiciary. Whenever you find yourself, maybe there is an abuse of power by the so called police; the court is there to put a check as we have in the federal.
Probably, you are not going to give them equipments like gun. We cannot say because we have state police, we will not have the presence of federal police in the state to be in charge of ammunitions. We have rubber bullets, water bombs, tear gas; they can have those ones, since they are not going to battle war.
So, when it comes to the issue of crime that is beyond their power, don’t the federal government draft in military to support the police, so they can draft the federal police to support the state in curbing the crime, but the work of the state police will be more of intelligence gathering. We have to check the commission of a crime, that will help us a lot than allowing the crime to degenerate before we now swings into action.
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