STATE POLICE OVERVIEW:
THE SECURITY LAPSES ENCOUNTERED IN NIGERIA HAVE LED TO SERIES OF CALLS FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF STATE POLICE. THIS IS TO COMPLEMENT THE EFFORTS OF THE NIGERIAN POLICE FORCE.
THE POLICE FORCE
Police Force is an organisation saddled with the responsibility of ensuring the security of life and property. An institution for enforcement of law and order. It is also an institution for detection and prevention of crime. These are the central functions of Nigeria police with a central command.
The establishment of a state police means: That Nigeria would have security outfits whose functions are to be controlled, managed and directed by various state authorities. Meaning that it would be controlled by component states of Nigeria.
CALLS FOR STATE POLICE
There have been calls from some quarters for the creation of a quasi police. However, this seems to underscore the fact that there are underlying intentions by some politicians to actualize such a proposal.
They should be discouraged from doing this. First, we must note that state police is a duplication of functions. therefore it is superfluous.
If State Police sees the light of the day in Nigeria, under the present socio-political structure, the unimaginable will happen in Nigeria.
One may ask why State Police is a negative move. Yes, State Police will only create conflicts, rivalry, acrimony ,chaos, etc. These will all amount to the Nation burning its candle at both ends.
Abuse of authority and power tussle between the states and the Federal Government will assume a dangerous dimension. Most importantly with the establishment of state police. While the states will like to prove their authority. The federal will claim to be the apex authority to detect the pace. Thus, the control of the state police apparatus will become a serious problem.
A situation that will tantamount to anarchy, indiscipline, corruption and disrespect. This struggle for supremacy and recognition would be to the detriment of the security needs of the nation. This will nevertheless, render the venture into a colossal failure.
PROBLEMS OF STATE POLICE
The concomitant problems associated with state police is numerous. First , one has to consider that non-indegenes of the state are likely to suffer unduly in the hands of their host states.
Already, there have been existing signs of this. Activities of the Lagos State Traffic Control and Maintainance Agency (LASTMA) towards non indegenes leave much to be disired.
In many cases , LASTMA have arrested motorists and confiscated their vehicles on trumped up charges. They are more dastardly when the driver is a non-indegene or unable to speak Yoruba language.
A case in point is that of one Danfo driver from the South-East of Nigeria. He operates in Lagos state. His vehicle was impounded days after a clash between a soldier who happened to be his passenger and some LASTMA operatives.
His only sin was that the soldiers was his passenger. Before he could protest, LASTMA has auctioned his vehicle. Justice only came to him when court ordered LASTMA to replace the vehicle.
Recently ,LASTMA mudered two non indegenes for no reason. On Tuesday September 27th 2011, Governor Tunde Fashola compensated one of the victim’s family, Mr. Benjamin Igbokwe.
Jungle justice is being meted out by LASTMA to non indegenes on daily basis. This is because they are given authority to operate as state vigilante. What will become of people if they are armed police with full authority to operate locally.
THE BAKASSI BOYS AS ANOTHER EXAMPLE
The Bakassi Boys of eastern Nigeria is another of such example. Everybody witnessedhow Bakassi boys became lord of the East. Their jungle justice activities are too numerous to list. If they should operate with full government authority, how would the eastern Nigeria be?
If a mere traffic control agency owned by the state can go to this extent,how much more the big masquerade called the police?
We all are aware of the happenings in northern Nigeria where christains are being forcefully subjected to sharia system of justice.
With the state police ,Justice can never be done to non indegenes in every state of Nigeria.
Perhaps, the security challenges in the country are prompting few individuals to call for the creation of state police. These category of people travel mainly by air or with police escorts. They are not aware of the realities on ground nor in touch with the common man. However as a result, they do not feel the pains of the less privileged Nigerian dwelling outside their states.
The little freedom non indegenes enjoy in their host states is as a result of the present police structure and administration. A State Police can only work in situations where “State of origin syndrome “is not existing.
For state police to be efficient, devoid of brutality, and well tolerated, the state of origin must be jettisoned. This must be replaced with the citizen’s place of birth.
Existence of state police in Nigeria will gradually lead to the creation of state armed forces. And what next when a state has its police and army? That is the birth of Republic in a Republic.
( a child who)
ALI HOFNAR WRITES FROM OWERRI