President Muhammadu Buhari has restated his opposition to state governments having their own police. The President made this known in an interview with Channels Television aired last night.
“State police is not an option,” he said in response to the question on the topic.
His remark came amid push from most quarters in the country to decentralise policing, which has already led to the setting up of regional security outfits by some state governments.
Proponents of federalism have argued that in a true federal structure, states should control their own security agencies to complement that of the Federal Government, just as many, including governors, have made the call for state policing as a way to contain insecurity across the country.
The President alluded to the propensity for governors to abuse their powers as his argument against state police.
“Find out the relationship between local government and the governors. Are the third tier of government getting what they are supposed to get constitutionally? Let the people in local government tell you the truth about the fight between local governments and the governors,” he said.
This is not the first time the President will reject state policing. As far back as 2019, the President had noted that though state policing was a good initiative, the governors might be unable to pay the officers’ salaries.
“How many states are able to pay their workers in time? And you add the police to them? Can the states be able to shoulder the burden of the police? You cannot just give someone guns and ammunition, train him and refuse to pay him, you know what will eventually happen.”
HOWEVER, the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, has accused President Buhari of being comfortable with the state of insecurity in the country, insisting that the President’s statement that ‘state police is not an option’ suggests that the situation may not be about to change.
Ayu also criticised the President for pushing the blame for the incessant killing of farmers by terrorists on locals along grazing routes. These statements were contained in a response by Ayu to President Buhari’s interview on Channels Television, yesterday.
He said: “Watching President Buhari was a ‘gratuitous waste of time’ because there was nothing new coming from him. From the economy, to insecurity, killing of innocent farmers by terrorists (which some erroneously term farmer/herder clashes) and other sundry issues, President Buhari again repeated the impotent argument regarding killing of farmers by terrorists, reminding Nigerians of grazing routes.
“It appears the continued killings in some localities of Nigeria, particularly, in the North, and more specifically in President Buhari’s home state of Katsina, may not matter to him, hence, the need to have a security system that feeds on local intelligence and nuances, which the federal police cannot adequately provide.
“To him, it appears that continuing the same process while expecting a different output and outcome is the best way to go. We ask, is he comfortable with the killings in the land while the status quo persists?
“To further dwell on the entire interview would be to waste valuable time. But we implore Nigerians not to relent because hope is on the way and, like one writer said, hope is better served as breakfast and not dinner, as the APC regime of President Buhari is doing, promising El Dorado in the dying days of its tenure.”
THE debate over state police was revisited following Tuesday’s drama between the Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and a police officer, Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) Abimbola Oyewole, who publicly defied the governor’s orders to vacate the estate.
Yesterday, Southwest governors roundly condemned the public altercation, describing it as a threat against representative democracy. They also fingered the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN) and some elements in the Presidency, accusing them of blatant abuse of the rule of law.
The Ondo State governor and Chairman of Southwest Governors’ Forum, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), in a statement signed and made available to journalists in Akure, yesterday, asked the police authorities to investigate the matter.
“We are in possession of a video, which has gone viral on the social media concerning the disgraceful exchange between a police officer, a CSP, and the governor of Lagos, the supposed Chief Security Officer of the state, at the Magodo Residential Estate.
“The content of the video is very disconcerting, and this is being charitable. The utter disrespect, which underlines the response of the officer to the governor establishes, beyond doubt, the impracticability of the current system, dubiously christened ‘Federalism.’
“An arrangement, which compels the governor to seek clarifications on security issues in his jurisdiction from totally extraneous bodies or persons, is a sure recipe for anarchy. We condemn, very strongly, this brazen assault on decency. We call on the IG to explain the justification for this intrusion. This is not acceptable.
“Unequivocally, we condemn, in very clear terms, the role of the AGF, Malami in this act of gross moral turpitude. We, on our part, will continue to interrogate the current system, which treats elected representatives of the people as mere prefects, while appointed office holders ride rough shod over them as Lords of the Manor.
“We stand by our brother, the governor of Lagos. We advise him to deploy the regional security outfit in the state to protect the life and property of the people,” the statement read in part.
RESPONDING, Malami confirmed that policemen dispatched to Magodo Phase 2 Estate area of Lagos State were there on his orders, while he faulted the criticism of the Southwest governors, saying nothing was unruly about the operation and the police officers’ presence at the estate.
This was contained in a statement by Malami’s Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Umar Gwandu.
He said: “The Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice takes exception to the Southwest governors’ unjustifiable insinuation of impunity against the AGF over execution of a judgment of the Supreme Court.
“The role of the executive is, in this respect, simply to aide the maintenance of law and order in due compliance with rule of law arising from giving effect to the judgment of the apex court.
“Let it be known that the issue is regarding a Supreme Court judgment that was delivered in 2012, long before the coming of President Buhari’s administration at a time when Malami was not a Minister.
“The Office of the AGF would appreciate if the coalition of the governors will help to unravel the circumstances preventing the Lagos State government from enforcing the court order despite several attempts from 2012 to 2015 and so-called settlement initiative started in 2016.”
VARIOUS groups have condemned the Magodo incident. Chairman of Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), Wale Oshun, said: “It has been there for a long time, which shows that our security system is faulty.”
The Director General of Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission, Seye Oyeleye, said: “Obviously, we run a supposed federation. The Inspector General of Police sent police officers to the territory of the governor without consulting the supposed Chief Security Officer.
“It shows how warped our federalism is. It shows that we are living in lies. The opponents of state police do talk about abuse of governors. What happened is a classic example of abuse of the police by the Federal Government.”
The Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Gani Adams, through his media aide, Kehinde Aderemi, said: “Magodo event has truly shown the deficit of the present system of government. That is why the need for effective policing in the state is urgent.
“State police is a content of true federalism. It is long overdue, we can never make any meaningful progress as a nation unless we go back to regionalism where each region was allowed to develop at its pace.”
FORMER National Chairman of the defunct United Progressives Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie, said there was urgent need for constitutional reforms that would review the nation’s security management to save the country.
He insisted that Nigeria was seriously on the downward slide, stressing that the nation will not make any progress with the continued inability of state chief security officers to control the police as well as disobedience of the police to elected chief executive of states.
Okorie insisted that state police and community policing was the way to go in the effort to keep Nigeria united and on the path of continued development.
He said: “That is an outright disobedience to persons described by the Constitution as Chief Security Officers of their states. Some of us have repeatedly, over the years said state police and community policing is a sure way of taking security to the grassroots and that is one of the ways every citizen can be made to feel that he is part of the security architecture.
“That call has become more stringent under the Buhari administration and for reasons that have not been explained to anybody’s satisfaction, the government has paid deaf ears to this call. So what has happened in Lagos is just a similar thing to what is happening in other parts of the country. There is no way our security problem can be solved with this type of lacuna in our Constitution.”
The Director-General of Rivers State Neighbourhood Watch Agency, Dr. Mike Chukwuma, also expressed displeasure over the insubordination at Magodo estate.
Chukwuma, a retired Assistant Commissioner of Police, in a telephone interview with The Guardian, disclosed that Nigeria is joking with the idea of democracy.
The DG described the Magodo incident as a shameful one, noting that it was an imposition of might against the wishes of citizens and government.
“There is no situation that is not abused. The difference is our ability to learn from our mistakes. People have been arguing that state policing would be abused but is the federal police not being abused? Is federal police not being wrongly used?
“As an insider who has been in the police from the scratch till when I retired after 35 years, the near solution to our security woes is state police.”
ALSO speaking, two lawyers, Jiti Ogunye and Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), described the Magodo incident as a rule of law catastrophe, which only restructuring can solve.
Ogunye said: “The AGF and IGP’s agents cannot invade the estate in the pretext of enforcing a Supreme Court judgment. They are not Sheriffs of Court empowered to do so. If Lagos government disobeyed the court, redress venue is still the court, not office of IGP or AGF. What the duo and the police are doing in that estate is blatant illegality. It has no other name.”
Adegboruwa said only restructuring can save Nigeria. He quoted Section 215 of the Constitution that shows that Nigeria runs a unitary state and not a federal structure.
“The 1999 Constitution tells a lie against the people of Nigeria when it claims that we are running a federation but strips the governor of powers over security. In the final analysis, only restructuring can save this nation. Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable!”