Making state police work – Tribune Online

IN my article titled “State police: In whose interest?” published on page 20 of the Punch of Tuesday, September 26, 2012, the question as the title suggested, was whose interest would the much-trumpeted state police serve? And this was in 2012 – ten years ago! Somehow into memory lane, reference was made to the fact that the issue of regional police generated much debate during pre-independence days. While, for example, the Northern PeoplesCongress (NPC) led by the late Sir Ahmadu Bello, and the Action Group (AG) led by the late Chief ObademiAwolowo, wanted Regional Police, the National Council Of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) led by the late Rt. Hon. Dr.Nnamdi Azikiwe (Zik) opposed it. Zik’s major reasons for opposing it, according to some analysts, were predicated on two main planks. One was that Regional Police was dangerous and/or inimical to the unity of the country then gearing for independence. The second was the feeling that the Igbo (his kinsmen), being in every part of the country(unlike their Hausa/Fulani and Yoruba counterparts who mainly domiciled in their home-steads or ethnic divide), would be safer under Federal Police than under Regional Police authority.

Events at the time which fueled the fears were evident inthe crises/riots in some parts of the North at one time or the other then, especially following the disaffectiongenerated by the 1945 general strike and increased inter-ethnic contact and rivalry that culminated into a concatenation of events that led, for example, to the Jos riots of 1945, followed also with the disaffection generated by the aborted self government motion of 1953 and even the Tiv riots at one point or the other, all of which resulted in loss of lives, among whom were Igbo! During this time, up to independence in 1960, and until 1963 when Midwest Region was created, there were only three regions (North, East and West). One would say that with only three or four regions, Regional Police would not be said to be unwieldy. But one cannot say the same thing of 36 States (and more). What this would entail, in other words, would be a multiplicity or a rainbow of 36 State Police commands – with different State Police uniforms, different makes of arms and ammunitions,different orientations and so on!

In the circumstance, there would be high proliferation of various arms and ammunitions that could worsen the nation’s present security challenges. Imaginea scenario where, for example, there are border clashes between two or even among three neighbouring communities of contingent States; would it not be a mini civil war of a kind, with different affected State Police commands pitched against each other? And who knows, one day, there would be demand for State or Regional Army, and before you know it, one would be singing “nuncdimitis” to a giant of a country! As it is now, it appears the much trumpeted community police approach has been half-hearted, and lacking in steam to the effect that it has not been able to arrest the incidences of crimes all over the land, worsened with the obvious absence of political will on the part of the Federal Government such that even known criminals are virtually allowed to operate rough-shod, with impunity reigning supreme, giving rise to a number of insinuations and interpretations and/or conspiracy theories which are clearly not good for us asa people andas a country. These, no doubt, are what have re-enkindled the vociferous demand for state police as perhaps an omnibus or magic wand to the solution of the nation’s multifaceted security challenges.

The fear here is that as attractive as state police is to some of us now, the fact remains that “state police” under the control of our state governors would be an obvious invitation to disaster. This is because although the Federal Police as presently constituted, have not been able to live up to expectation, not only in combating crimes but also in the area of enhancing human rights and social justice, state police under state governors would be worse and grossly abused by them, given the way many of them talk and behave, boastfully beating their chests, and threatening thunder and brim stone at any given moment. In fact, many of them do not only see themselves as tin or demi gods but as God Almighty at whose hands are the powers of life and death!

The way many of them use their local vigilante to hunt down their perceived political enemies is a mere foretaste of what they would do when empowered or armed with state police. As it is now, they have the state legislature in their pockets, and so is the state judiciary also in their pockets, which is saying, in other words, that to also put the state police in their pockets would be an obvious death blow to human rights, and rule of law as a whole, and by extension an obvious amputation of democracy.  This clearly is the issue! What one is saying, therefore, is that given the foregoing and the obvious need for pragmatic approach to check our myriads of security issues, and even those of human rights violations, the only way state police can achieve the desired effect is to distance it from the control of state governors. This is because one cannot, in wanting to smoothen his face, spite his nose.

The view here is that given the above, the relationship between the State governor and the State Police chief should be that of mutual cooperation and/or collaboration, without subordinating one to the other, and well-defined to avoid their running into any collusion course. In this regard, the statutory instrument that would set up the State Police outfit/command should, in defining the relationship between the governor and the state police also clearly spell out the modality of setting upan independent body which would be the structure that would independently handle the appointment, removal, discipline, etc of the State Police personnel/leadership to achieve effect. By way of thinking aloud, the view here is that the vacancy of the state police leadership should be advertised and three selected best candidates from different zones in the state should be sent to the state legislature and the state judicial council for concurrent approval and/or confirmation as state police chief and his/her assistants. Their tenure should be for five years to ensure they out-serve the governor, and they should not be removed from office until after their tenure when they could be prosecuted for any wrong doing (if any) in the course of their service. And of course the chief would not be re-appointed until after five years of his/her first tenure, and in any case, no one person would serve for more than two tenures.

  • Obiallor writes in via


The foregoing notwithstanding, a fact that should be emphasized here is that about 90% of crimes are induced by factors beyond the control of the criminal, and these factors are clearly functions of poor governance which breed unemployment, poverty, hunger, lack, etc leading in effect to an over-policed and militarized society.


Perhaps it is necessary we are reminded of this bitter truth that not even one million policemen and numerous other security personnel canguarantee sustainable peace and security (including development) in any society in the absence of social justice whereby majority of productive youths and young adults wallow in extreme poverty, unemployment, deprivation, etc. while politicians swim in stupendous and primitive wealth having cornered the nation’s commonwealth.  The reason for this obvious fact is thatpeace and social justice go in paripassu; when one is absent, the other is in jeopardy. And what the numerous security personnel unleashed into the society can at best do or achieve in the circumstance, is to continually incarcerate and/or terminate the lives of the nation’s young ones that are virtually deliberately thrown into crimes – with the attendant nemesis awaiting the nation, including God’s inescapable judgment on the human elements that are responsible for all the woes..


As a matter of fact, while not exonerating the president/presidency from the responsibility for the shame of the nation’s unprecedented down-turn, one nevertheless holds the view that the governors share a huge chunk of the blame, especially for the poverty, unemployment and deprivation that have enveloped our country these past years.Need we be reminded of R.H Tawney’s, view thata true test (worth) of any government is its effect on the people.


And from all indications, it appears those entrusted with the governance of our country do not seem to know that the emphasis of modern concept of development is on the development of man, man, and man- “shaping people to shape people to shape places”. And this pre-supposes much attention and investment on education, health, shelter, food production/agriculture, employment opportunities and/or empowerment and of course human rights, security and the necessary infrastructure.Our leaders pay little attention to these areas and instead prefer white elephant projects which give them high 10% kick-back turn-over, which is unfortunate.


As it is always said “God forbid the president (or the  governor ,or indeed any one person)knows everything” and this explains why leaders have a retinue of hands as personal assistants, advisers, or even as ministers, commissioners, etc, some of whom although could pass fora Haman or so and who, it appears, their duty schedules include sycophancy. But that is a pity because as it isalsosaid, the duty of the emperor’s hands around him [not the Press this time for obvious reasons) is to tell him that he has no clothes on i.e., that he is naked], otherwise he would dance around naked and blindfolded until he falls into a pit to his embarrassment and that of the state. The truth here again is that often, suggestions from outsiders are thrown to the dust bins via waste matters baskets because of parochial interests or even shortsightedness, or both.


The pity of it all is that the end of this sad trajectory does not seem to be in sight, because the people thatlurk around some of our frontline presidential candidates, are exactly the same people and faces (many of whom are private jet owners with funds from our treasury) that have for decades dominated our political landscape and put the nation down where we are todayand they are likely to be the same people and faces we are to see in 2023 and beyond, except God intervenes.

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