Published On: Thu, Feb 8th, 2018

FG Tinkers With State Police, Says “We Cannot Realistically Police A Country The Size Of Nigeria Centrally From Abuja”

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By Sadiq Umar – President Muhammadu Buhari led federal government is considering the creation of State Police and Community policing as measures to tackle the security challenges confronting the nation.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo gave the hint, Thursday in Abuja at a Security Summit organised by the Senate in conjunction with Nigerian security agencies.

Vice President of Nigeria

“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,” Mr. Osinbajo said in his keynote address at the summit.

According to him, “there can be no denying the horrific reality in many parts of our country today. People who should be neighbours are turning on one another and taking up arms.

“These attacks and reprisal attacks are an intolerable cycle of hell that must be broken. Killings, kidnappings, mayhem and general lawlessness cannot be the new normal. We must take this country back and restore order,” he said.

The Vice President itemized other immediate steps the government considered necessary to address security challenges in Nigeria which according to him includes a planned collaboration by Nigeria with its neighbours, most especially Chad with a view to preventing proliferation of small arms.

He said Nigeria must not allow the crises between pastoralists and farmers in some states to assume religious coloration, urging Nigerians to support government’s efforts to douse tension on the issue.

He added, “Let me reiterate, that on no account will any lands be seized or forcefully taken to create these ranches or grazing areas. All insinuations to that effect should be disregarded.

“No one is giving land to herdsmen, as is being falsely alleged. Instead, it is in our view that States that are willing and which have set aside land for development should cooperate with willing investors into commercially viable, government-supported ranches or livestock production centres for commercial use.

“Let me close by summarizing some policy objectives that we need further work on, some of which will benefit from both Legislative and Judiciary cooperation.

“The first is that the nature of our security challenges are complex and nuanced. Securing Nigeria’s over 923,768 square kilometers and its 180 million people, requires far more men and materials than we have at the moment. It also requires a continual re-engineering of our security architecture and strategies. This has to be a dynamic process. 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.

“Thirdly, we must intensify existing collaboration with our neighbours in the Chad Basin, especially border communities to prevent the movement of small arms, and disarming armed pastoralists and bandits who go through our borders day after day.

“Lastly, we must avoid the dangers of allowing these conflicts to harden to religious or ethnic conflicts. This is the responsibility of political, religious and all other parts our leadership elite in Nigeria.

Osinbajo reechoed the determination by the government to redirect the itinerant nature of pastoralists in Nigeria, as according to him, making them more sedentary with cattle grazen, while camping them along noted grazing routes will solve the problem.

He reiterated that the Federal Government has no plan to hijack any plot of land in any part of the country, as doing that according to him will amount to violation of Land Use Act of the federation.

According to him, while the Land Use Act vests the power of land in state governors and local government authorities, there are existing Supreme Court Judgements which emphasised that the Federal Government does not enjoy any jurisdiction over land in any parts of Nigeria.

While advocating the need for effecting ranching system in Nigeria to curb the free movement of herders across the federation, Osinbajo said already, 13 states have agreed to donate at least 5, 000 hectares of land for ranching .

He said for the ranching system to work, stakeholders must sit to work out modalities for operating the ranches which he said would boost economic activities of the areas where they are created.

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