State Police: The Time is Now by Theophilus Ilevbare
“The sight of a middle age man wearing an all Black uniform was all I needed to see as I drove closer to a checkpoint” said Ayo a graduate turned cab driver. “As i drove closer, he raised his hand, ordering me to a slow halt” he continued. “Without uttering a word, his outstretched hand flew across my face gesticulating for something. As a typical Nigerian i asked, what can I do for you Officer? As if I didn’t know what he wanted from me”.
To the delight of most Nigerians but dismay to “egunje-loving-officers”, some months back the acting, now substantive Inspector General (IG) of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, ordered the dismantling of all Police check points Nationwide, though a few obstinately remain in some parts of the country. Its a step in the right direction as most Nigerians believe the constant harassment by some men of the Nigeria Police for “egunje” under the watchfull eyes of whoever cared was becoming unbecoming. Moreso, since these check points were mounted at strategic locations along busy routes within major cities, towns and even on the expressway resulting in gridlock. The argument by those who think they help to check the nefarious activities of hoodlums is not valid. In other climes, its simply Patrol in vans or cars along highways and intracity.
The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) as constituted by Section 194 of the 1979 constitution has failed in its responsibility of providing adequate security for lifes and property but instead is now a bunch of corrupt, inept, lackadaisical, ill-motivated and renumerated force men.
The antecedents of some ex-police chiefs, Sunday Ehindero and Tafa Balogun who were both disgraced out of office and charged by the EFCC to court for embezzling funds meant for the force has in no small measure dealt a big blow to the image of the force.
The task of maintaining law and order has become somewhat a herculean task for the NPF made evident by incessant and devastating attacks by the Boko Haram, the activities of kidnappers, arm robbers and even civilians taking laws into their hands at the slightest provocation epitomised by the four UNIPORT students bitten and set ablaze amidst cheers and video footage by some barbaric youths of Aluu Community in Rivers State.
Frantic efforts has been made in the past to rebrand the image of the force in areas such as better renumeration, training, re-training, equipping and re-orientation. Some persons have even muted the idea of change of uniform for the force. All of these aimed at repositioning them for the challenges of policing a troubled and crisis ridden Nigeria in the 21st century.
Regrettably, as it has always been the case with public fund, a better part of allocation to the NPF has ended up in private pockets. The failures of the NPF has necessitated the debate for the introduction of State Police, by the various states of the Federation, to support in all areas the inadequate NPF.
“Nigeria, not ripe for State Police” was the screaming headline from a national daily recently. Those who share this sentiment argue that it’ll become a witch hunting tool for political enemies as well as a manipulative mechanism for orchestrating co-ordinated attacks against critics and opponents of State Governors and their allies. Am still waiting to hear a better argument as i asked myself quizically, the NPF with its present formation, isn’t it used for thesame purpose?
Commissioners of Police (CPs), though answerable to the IG, are they not loyal to the State Governors? Its advantages by far outweigh any demerit. Maybe our leaders are waiting for the eventual collapse of this entity called Nigeria before doing the right thing. Sporadic shooting in public places, terrorist and other activities by hoodlums is increasing exponentially as the capacity of the NPF to contain this spate of violence is decreasing geometrically.
In the United States, Policing has been disencentralised even down to the numerous Cities that make up the United States. The effectiveness and efficiency of Police Departments (PDs) such as Los Angeles Police Department(LAPD) in California State, Boston Police Department (BPD) In Massachusetts and New York Police Department (NYPD), to mention a few, has become the envy and model for serious minded Governments around the world who take the security of properties seriously and believe in the sanctity of human life.
In Britain, talk of The Scotland Yard and the London Metroplitan Police, the splendid work they do. It beats me hollow, how naïve our leaders are not to realize that the gains of State Police far outweigh its demerits if any.
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