Home / Breaking News / Federalised Police: Time To Do It Is Now
Federalised Police: Time To Do It Is Now

Federalised Police: Time To Do It Is Now

  • The Long-Term Cure For Nigeria’s Current Security Challenges

To be sure, the history of sub-national policing in Nigeria is bitter and rotten. Pristine policing, in several parts of the territory that makes up the present Nigeria, were attached to royal courts, to enforce traditional laws and customs: Dongari or Yan Doka (in the North), Akoda or Olopa (in the West) and Ohu, or much later, Kotima (in the East).

With the coming of Nigeria’s first fully federal constitution in 1954, the Nigeria Police became federalised.  By 1963 (the year Nigeria became a republic), the police was organised under five regional commands, which a commissioner of police headed: Lagos, Northern Region, Western Region, Eastern Region and Mid-Western Region.  The Inspector-General, the overall boss, was installed in Lagos, the federal capital.

But, while the regional commands conformed with the letters of the 1963 Republican/Federal Constitution, they imbibed more the spirit of the pristine Dongari or Akoda or Kotima, meaning that the local constabularies were attack dogs of the ruling political elite; and sheer pestilence to the political opposition.  That misuse bugged the democratic republic until its overthrow on January 15, 1966.

The in-coming military, citing these ringing abuses, progressively abolished the regional structure, starting with the creation of the first 12 states, from the four regions, on the virtual eve of the Nigerian Civil War in 1967.  That beginning has birthed the current other extreme: a unitary police in a federal state.

Even then, the centralised police is not short of abuses too.  Under IGP Sunday Adewusi, the elite Mobile Police was little more than the storm-trooping arm of the ruling National Party of Nigeria (NPN), under President Shehu Shagari, in the Second Republic (1979-1983).

Even as late as 2014 under President Goodluck Jonathan, a distraught Governor Kayode Fayemi became a pathetic spectator, as a lowly police officer scorned his orders, en route to a controversial election, in which the governor was voted out.

This historical background is imperative, to understand why a federally structured police became unitary misnomer, peaking in the current security crisis.  It is also clear that abuse isn’t a monopoly of old regional political potentates, as the cited cases have shown.

Even then, the bitter truth today is that the present unitary-minded Nigeria Police is clearly out of its depth, in tackling Nigeria’s current security challenges, even with the mocking pantomime of “community police”.  It’s high time then, that the entire issue was revisited.

One: a new, federalised police structure would boost the number of men in formal police uniforms.  The basic security challenge today is that Nigeria is so vast it has a wide swathe of un-governed (read un-policed) spaces, from where terrorists and allied criminals wreak havoc.

The good news is that in Amotekun (South West), the Lagos Neighbourhood

Watch (Lagos), the Joint Civilian Task Force (North East) and the near-stillbirth Ebubeagu (South East), almost every geo-political zone already boasts ready and teeming personnel that can fit into a new federalised police.

Then, two: these local cadres know their terrain as they know the back of their hands,  So, aside from boosted numbers, they could be an invaluable intelligence trove.  A vastly improved grassroots human Intel can and should greatly assist the police in delivering on its security and crime-busting mandate. It borders on the commonsensical, therefore, that federalising the police holds more promise to prevail over the security realities, than the current police as structured.

However, to avoid getting wise after the fact, the National Assembly should gather experts to study abuses of the past regional arrangements. That body should now propose robust checks and balances to prevent a recurrence.  It should also draw up cooperative, operational protocols, between the central police in Abuja and its cousins in the various state capitals — or geo-political zones, whichever model is picked. If past abuses are not kept out, some 50 years down the line (with present security challenges gone and forgotten), their recurrence could spark 1966-like agitations to again centralise the police.

Too bad, the National Assembly failed to address federalised police at its latest bout of constitutional amendments. Still, it should take re-federalising the Nigeria Police as a grave national emergency. Time to do it is now — not even the next second!

(thenationonlineng.net Editorial)

Hits: 0

About newsfrontonline

Scroll To Top