With the spate of killings and the seeming helplessness of the Nigerian Police, the Senate may reconsider its earlier stance against the establishment of State Police in Nigeria if its current position is anything to go by.
The Senators who spoke on Thursday during the debate over incessant killings in many States in the North by Fulani Herdsmen and Boko haram insurgents, called for establishment of State Police across the country.
Many of them voted against the proposal for the establishment of State Police last July while considering and approving recommendations of the Senate Committee on Constitution Review .
But, speaking yesterday during the debate, preponderance of opinion in the Senate believed that the present federal police structure with less than 350,000 personnel cannot in any bring about effective policing of a nation of about 150million people.
“Aside the fact that many are not always familiar with the terrain of their postings as far as grassroots crime control is concerned, they are not adequate equipped,” they argued.
Senators call for State Police was sequel to a motion moved by Senator Barnabas Gemade (PDP Benue North East) and five other Senators over recent attacks and killings in Plateau, Benue, Kaduna and other parts of the north central zone.
The Senate had earlier mandated its Committees on Security and Intelligence, Defence and Army, Police Affairs and Interior, to carry out a fact finding mission to communities and Villages where the killings were carried out and report back.
Gemade stated in the motion that situation of incessant killings in the affected places in the North was further degenerating to a point similar and even worse than civil war with thousands of lives already lost across the various communities where the killings have been carried out.
He said: “Human life has become increasingly very cheap and impunity has become the norm in Nigeria, particularly in the case of the North Central and North Eastern Geo-political Zones where the danger has become very real indeed and the attacks have become not only incessant but the gory details of the daily massacres are becoming more daring and horrific, reflecting casualty of mostly innocent and unsuspecting Children, women and the elderly;
“The situation is further degenerating to a point in which we can clearly say that we are in the middle of a civil war with multiple ill defined fronts and worse still the perpetrators are often presented as faceless “unknown gunmen” “Boko Haram” or in some instances, “Fulani herdsmen” in ‘conflict’ with “farmers” and victims on the Plateau, in Benue, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Borno, Adamawa, Yobe States and other parts of Nigeria;
“That in Plateau State, between May 29, 2011 and January 31, 2012 alone there were 1,131 deaths reported. The relative peace and calm that had returned to the state for several months based on the collective resolve of the people to sustain the peace was sadly interrupted on Tuesday 26th of November 2013, by simultaneous multiple attacks on four communities and villages of Tatu, Rawuru, Bok and Dorang, leaving 45 people dead including a family of seven (7) -Father, Mother and five (5) children, apart from the fact that most of the poor victims are infants, children and women”.
Gemade who said further in the motion that the unending incessant killings of innocent Nigerians in the affected area was already making people in the affected Communities and Villages to lose confidence in the federal security regime as presently arranged, added that federalized policing in the prevailing situation of insecurity with the increasing volume of grassroots crimes, cannot in anyway sufficiently help in tackling the ranging problem of insecurity in the land.
His words: “Anxiety fed by what are now incidences of serial night killings and daylight mass attacks bordering on war crimes is approaching a panic loss of confidence in the federal security regime and that the pattern of federalized policing under a unitary command, may have made sense under military regimes in the past, but it is hardly the best in the prevailing situation of insecurity with the increasing volume of grassroots crimes and attacks on the nation’s defenseless rural communities;
“That the increasing sense of disconnection with local communities needs to be overcome and reduced by a reconsideration of the current military strategy because identity politics of the civilian domain is growing more divisive as the military is constantly relied upon to use deadly force to deal with local crimes or uprisings and trans border attacks in most parts of Nigeria;
“Apart from providing necessary democratic essentials, meeting the security needs of the people remains the primary purpose of government as a result, if a state, local government, ward or village area under a federal system cannot be effectively protected by the federal police, federal army and other forces, the nation cannot afford to remain scared of trying tested solutions adopted by other federal systems of the world”.
Aside Gemade’s apparent call for establishment of State Police in his submission in the motion, other Senators like George Sekibo (PDP Rivers East), Eyinnaya Abaribe (PDP Abia South) Gyang Pwajok (PDP Plateau North) etc, also call for establishment of State Police in the Country as one of the urgent measures needed to put in place against high rate of grassroots crimes in the land.
A position strongly supported by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu who presided over the session by saying “We run a federal system of government and is completely unacceptable in a federal system for us to have a federal system and for us to also have a centralized Police. Policemen are not magicians. There is no way such an arrangement can give us the needed security we want across the length and breadth of the country”.
His words: “Many years ago, as traditional people we had our own internal mechanism of dealing with this these situations. But with civilization and interaction with other people and the general criminality pervading the whole world we are now infested with this virus of criminality in our country.
“I do believe that a country as big as Nigeria needs to effect its security. And just as have been mentioned, it would be difficult for us to afford effective security if we continue to use the type of policing we are having in Nigeria presently.
“We run a federal system of government and is completely unacceptable in a federal system for us to have a federal system and for us to also have a centralized Police. Policemen are not magicians. There is no way a Policeman can stay in one kilometre and know when a crime is being committed in another kilometre. We must be able to provide sufficient Police personnel that should be at least be one Policeman per hundred metres away. And this can only be achieved if we decentralize our Police, ensuring that we have State Police and possibly local Police that is well coordinated and regulated”.