New Telegraph

State Police: Lagos Assembly Leads Call as FG, State Govs Mull Decision

The nation had been wracked by waves of abductions, attacks by suspected bandits and other violent crimes. This had revived the clamour for the establishment of a multi-level policing system, including State Police. This is as following the increasing activities of kidnappers, bandits and terrorists spread across the country, the Lagos State House of Assembly has expressed its determination to champion the creation of State Police to address insecurity in the country. To this end, the House led by its Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, recently passed a resolution asking the National Assembly to commence an urgent constitutional amendment to allow for the creation of State Police.

The lawmakers said the call followed the growing threats of kidnapping and other forms of insecurity in Nigeria. At a plenary session on Monday, February 12, presided over by Obasa, the House also called for the proper equip- ping of the Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC), internal security outfit created by the State Government, to support other security agencies in Lagos State.

Justification

Expressing concern over the pervasive insecurity across the country, Obasa, who spoke under ‘Matter of Urgent Public Importance’, said: “At the weekend, we heard of the attack on a commercial bus and the passengers abducted.” Also, highlighting a recent kid- napping incident in the Ikorodu area of Lagos, Obasa noted the constant call by the House for the establishment of State Police, adding that the country’s security system was overstretched. “This time around, the National Assembly should be our focus. They don’t have to wait till the twilight of their tenure to start a constitutional amendment. This administration is at the beginning of its four years.

So the National Assembly should begin the amendment now, and we should be part of it to put an end to the issue of State Police,” he said. The speaker allayed fears that governors could hijack the state police to their advantage, saying the law should put a system in place to check excesses. Obasa, therefore, urged the state government to allocate a specific percentage from the Security Trust Fund to strengthen the corps in the state. The speaker further said it would be good for the root causes of insecurity to be addressed through effective youth engagement initiatives, including sports. “We must consider factors that lead to insecurity. Poverty: in this period of rising inflation, we can continue bringing relief to our people.

Sports have been a very effective tool to take our youth away from crime,” he added. Contributing to the debate, Mr Aro Moshood (APC-Ikorodu Constituency II), shared a harrowing account of the recent kidnapping incident in Igbogbo Bayeku, Ijede Local Council Development Area. He appealed to the government for enhanced security surveillance in the area. Speaking, Mr Ajayi Oladele (APC-Ibeju-Lekki II) stressed the need for proactive measures by the government, noting the in- flux of people into Lagos without a proper accommodation plan.

Widespread kidnapping

In the last few weeks, kidnapping has resurfaced in the South- west region with the killing of two traditional rulers in Ekiti State. The dare-devil gunmen ambushed and killed the Onimojo of Imojo, Oba Olatunde Olusola and the Ele- sun of Esun Ekiti, Oba Babatunde Ogunsakin, while the Alara of Ara Ekiti, Oba Adebayo Fatoba, narrowly escaped with his life. The gunmen also killed another traditional ruler in Kwara State with kidnapping for ransom increasingly becoming common in the region. As the insecurity escalates, the traditional ruler of Onibudo of Ayetoro-Budo Ota in Ado-Odo/ Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State, Oba Adewunmi Odutala has urged the federal government to quicken action on establishing state policing.

The monarch stated that state policing, with its emphasis on local involvement, will help enhance intelligence gathering, deter criminal activities, and ensure the safety of Nigerians. The monarch described the incident of attacks by gunmen on two monarchs in Ekiti State as a sacrilegious audacity deliberately planned and executed to undermine the security capacity of Nigeria. “I urge the federal and state governments to expedite action on establishing community policing to stem the tide of insecurity across the country,” he said. Oba Odutala further enjoined royal fathers in the South West to brace up to defend themselves, adding that “if the government failed to protect them, the traditional rulers owe their communities the duty of protecting their domains.

“Traditional rulers should be ready to defend them- selves and their communities, their subjects from external aggression.” He, however, called on President Bola Tinubu and Ekiti State Governor, Biodun Oyebanji to conduct thorough investigations into the killings and ensure that the perpetrators face the full wrath of the law. He said the recent spate of killings and kidnap- pings of traditional rulers and school children across the country highlights the urgent need for a robust, community-oriented security system.

Call for State Police

As if taking a cue from the call and resolution of the Lagos State House of Assembly, President Tinubu, days after (Thursday, February 15) met with the 36 state governors deliberate on the worsening state of insecurity in the country. Paramount in the discussion between the President and State governors, was the issue of consideration of creating State Police states. For many who have been following the federal government denial of the necessitating of State Police, President Tinubu championing this course now, they say it is a welcomed development and a great shift from the dogmatic position of former President Muhammadu Buhari and other presidents before him.

At the emergency meeting held at the Aso Rock Villa on February 15, they resolved among others to come up with modalities that would culminate in the creation of State Police to tackle the security crisis confronting the country. The meet- ing was called to provide solutions to the hike in food prices, economic hardship and insecurity recorded nationwide. Addressing State House Cor- respondents after the session, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, explained that the process was still in its infancy and would only take shape after more deliberations between stakeholders.

“The federal government and the state governments are mulling the possibility of setting up State Police,” Idris said. Adding, “This is still going to be further discussed. A lot of work must be done in that direction. But if our government and the state governments agree to the necessity of having state police, this is a significant shift. As I said, more work needs to be done in that direction. A lot of meetings will have to happen between the federal government and sub- nationals to see the modalities of achieving this.”

Normalcy gradually returning

According to the Information Minister, Idris, the President and the governors agreed that security and calm were gradually returning to the country’s most troubled spots. Idris, however, said the officials agreed that normalcy had not been fully restored. Consequently, the government will recruit a yet-to-be-disclosed number of forest rangers and invest in more training to “keep our forests and our borders very safe.” The minister said, “Mr President and the state governors have all agreed that we are seeing a significant improvement in the security situation around the country. This is not to say that the security situation has been solved completely. But we have seen a significant improvement. “In Borno, for example, areas where farmers were not able to cultivate due to security, those farmers have now returned. It is the same in Jigawa and many parts of the country.

The governors, including the Governor of Plateau State, also attested that there appears to be an improvement in security in these areas. “Mr President and the governors also thanked the security agencies for the work they are doing. Some of them even paid the supreme price. And the governors have also asked the president to do more. In this direction, Mr President and the state governors have also discussed the possibility of improving the numeric strength of forest rangers to train them so that they can keep our forests and our borders very safe.” Idris also announced a joint initiative by the federal and state governments to reduce youth unemployment. He said, “Mr President has also called on the state governors to join hands with the Federal Government to provide more for people, especially the teeming youth population.

“There is going to be a joint programme between the state governments and the Federal Government to ensure that our teeming youth population is gainfully employed so that we will reduce to the barest minimum the issue of unemployment in the country.” Afterwards, the President and governors agreed to set up a committee to “deepen the conversations that have happened at the just-concluded meeting.” Idris explained it was impossible to complete most of the issues raised at the meeting, adding, “So, these kinds of meetings will continue in the interest of our nation.”

Reps on state police bill

This development comes just three days after governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party decried the upsurge in kidnappings and killings across the nation, asking the president to allow the creation of State Police. On February 13, the House of Representatives said it was set to discuss a proposed legislation to create State Police. The legislation titled, ‘A bill for an Act to alter the Constitution of the Federal Re- public of Nigeria, 1999, to provide for the establishment of State Po- lice and related matters,’ has been slated for a second reading. The debate for creating State Police in Nigeria stems from the centralised nature of the Nigeria Police Force, which many security pundits said should be decentralised to address the security challenges across the country’s diverse regions.

Proponents argue that State Police would bring law enforcement closer to the com- munities they serve, but critics fear it could be abused, potentially exacerbating regional tensions and undermining national unity.

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