GARBA Shehu, Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, says it took government long to approve community policing in the country so as to make sure that state governments are able to cater to the needs of those hired for the purpose.
Shehu who shared this while speaking on a Channels Television programme, noted that it was necessary for steps to be taken to ensure that a proper structure that is implementable in all states is formed before the state policing is actualised in the country.
” A lot of states that had clamoured for community police, many of them were unable to cope with salary payment. If you hired a community policeman and give him a gun and you keep him five to six months without salary, what do you expect?” he said.
“I think efforts all these time have been taken to ensure that situation of this sort did not arise and therefore, they need to streamline and ensure that there is a standard national procedure and prescription for each of the state to abide or comply with.”
President Muhammadu Buhari’s on August 20 approved N13.3 billion for the off-take of community policing initiative across the country.
The approval was part of measures adopted to consolidate efforts aimed at containing the security situation in the country. Calls for state policing had increased following rising incidences of mass killings in many parts of the country. As such, a bill seeking an amendment to the Nigerian Constitution to accommodate state and community policing was first introduced in the 8th Senate but didn’t pass through.
However, speaking also on Channels Television, Rima Shawulu, a member of the House of Representatives representing Donga/Ussa/Takum/Special Area Federal Constituency in Taraba State, also corroborated the need for community policing noting that the current federal policing in Nigeria has failed.
“There were a lot of abuses that led to the formation and strengthening of the Federal Police system that we have and indeed, it is now the only police system that we have in the country. Unfortunately, it has failed,” Shawulu said.
According to him, the fact that vigilante groups and other security outfits are emerging is testament of the failure of the current policing structure in the country.
Shawulu noted that the federal controlled police has been unable to solve the problems of policing in the country.
“The fact that you have vigilantes, the fact that today we have the creation of Civil Defence Corps, the fact that the National Assembly successfully passed a bill to create another body and every community, you have vigilante which shows that police controlled by the Federal Government at the rate at which is being controlled cannot solve the problems of policing in the country,” he said.
However, while some believe that decentralisation of the police will yield much needed results especially in the fight against insurgency and banditry, Lawrence Alobi, a retired Commissioner of Police believes it may not work based on past experience.
Alobi told Punch that state police was once experimented in Nigeria, in 1989 but quickly met a dead. According to him, Nigerians are yet to imbibe a spirit of unity and it contributed to the failure of state policing in the 80s.
“The issue of state police was experimented in our country in 1989. It was directed then that policemen from the ranks of a Deputy Superintendent of Police, down to a Constable, should return to their state of origin.
“That was the experiment, but when the government saw that the experiment would not help the country, it was stopped. The issues of regionalisation and ethnicity are a problem in this country. Having a state police will cause more problems.
One, Nigerians have not been able to imbibe that spirit of unity and national consciousness. Nigerians don’t see themselves first as Nigerians. Some state governors, if they are given the police to control, will turn the police system into an instrument of political oppression,” Alobi explained.