Senate President Bukola Saraki has
Essentially, the concept of state police means that Nigeria will cease to run a centralized police structure where orders are dispatched from Abuja through the Inspector General of Police (IGP).
In a state police structure, all federating units of this geographical space called Nigeria, will have their own police command and the governor of a state will be in charge of the police officers or police command within his own domain.
What Saraki said on State Police
When Saraki met with the Conference of Speakers of the 36 State Assemblies, he told them that another constitution amendment process is underway at the 8th National Assembly, to usher in an era of state policing.
“One of the decisions we took today is that it is time for us to address really the issue of state police and community police. We’ve given our constitutional amendment committee two weeks to bring an amendment to the floor for us to pass”, Saraki said, adding that the House of Reps is also thinking along similar lines.
Saraki proposed state policing as a solution to the incessant killings going on around the country.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is also a proponent of state policing
While declaring open a two-day National Security Summit in Abuja on February 8, 2018, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said: “For a country our size to meet the 1 policeman to 400 persons UN prescribed ratio, would require nearly tripling our current police force, far more funding of the police, military and security agencies is required.
"Secondly, we cannot realistically police a country the size of Nigeria centrally from Abuja. State police and other community policing methods are clearly the way to go”.
Advantages of state police
1. The all powerful president of Nigeria will lose some of his powers, with no IGP waiting in the wings to do his bidding.
2. State governors will be in charge of police commands within their borders.
3. Every state will be able to recruit its own police officers however it deems fit.
4. Police officers in states will likely be hired from local governments in those states. This means that these local police recruits will be persons more familiar with the nooks and crannies of the state and who can therefore keep the state a lot safer than recruits from other states would.
5. This would also foster and entrench the concept of community policing and improve police efficiency.
6. State governors will no longer throw up their hands in the air and say they are not really the chief security officers of their states. They won't be able to abdicate responsibility.
7. State governors will no longer have to fight an IGP appointed by the president as they will be clear reporting lines and separation of powers.
8. States that are not safe and where crime is rife, can only blame their state governors for failing at their jobs.
9. State policing will likely usher in the twin concepts of federalism and restructuring in Nigeria. A central police command in Abuja is yet another evidence that Nigeria still runs a unitary system of government.
10. State policing will stop Abuja from being so powerful.
Disadvantages of state police
1. Some state governors will say they do not have enough money to pay their police officers and will head for Abuja, cap in hand, for bailout funds to pay police personnel under their control.
2. During elections, state governors will order state police bosses and officers around like maids and errand boys.
A handful of state governors who want to retain their seats, will deploy police officers to steal ballot boxes and crush dissent during voting.
3. Some state governors will use police officers to go after real and perceived political enemies, after all, he who pays the piper, calls the tune.
4. Some states like Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta and Lagos will be able to police their jurisdictions better while states like Osun, Ekiti, Taraba and Jigawa will be looking for money up and down to keep their police officers from starving.
5. States have been bad at this whole federalism thing. Take a look at the States Independent National Electoral Commissions (SIECs) whose jobs have become to ensure that the governing party in the states win all local government seats, no matter what the opposition comes up with.
6. States have also found it difficult fixing roads in their domains. What’s to suggest they won’t turn the police in their jurisdictions into bigger jokes than we now have?
7. Big boys in the polity like Saraki and other lawmakers, will be ordering police bosses in their states however they wish.
8. With no centralized police structure, everyone will be doing their own thing and we’ll end up running a very confused federal republic with several police bosses everywhere you look.
9. Robbers or criminals in states where the policing is relatively strong will be able to run into states where the policing is weak and inefficient, all in a bid to evade arrest and the law.
So, we'll essentially have to contend with the imbalance of weaker police states and stronger police states (as if we don't have bigger problems already).
Dear readers, on what side of the state policing debate are you really on? Speak now or forever….