AS the call for the establishment of state police gathers momentum, particularly among states governors, former Inspectors General of Police (IGPs) have begun moves to get members of the National Assembly to jettison the proposal when it comes to them.
The Guardian learnt that after the recent presentation of the report by the panel that worked on police reform to President Goodluck Jonathan, the former IGPs resolved that in view of the recent position of some of the governors, it would be necessary to sensitise the lawmakers to the dangers inherent in the proposal.
It was further learnt that former IG Gambo Jimeta, was mandated by the forum of former police helmsmen to lead the campaign.
The forum, according to sources, posited that when the issue of forming the Nigeria Police Force was mooted, it was specifically argued that because of the multi-ethnic nature of Nigeria, it was necessary to have a central police force controlled by the centre to avoid divisive tendencies. The forum, therefore, argued that adopting state police would create problems that the country might not be able to cope with.
“Nigeria presented a peculiar position because of the multi-ethnic nature of the country. You require certain institutions that can unite the country and the Nigeria Police Force is one of those key institutions’’, a source close to the forum told The Guardian.
Jimeta told journalists yesterday in Abuja that the position of some states governors that the state police was necessary because of some security challenges was out of place.
According to him, where such challenges occur, the military could be used to quell the situation where adequate police were not timely mobilized , stressing that the proliferation of security outfits was in itself a problem.
“The role of governors in such a matter is purely on the transfer procedure of request for forces to assist the police. They assist in internal security. That is being perfected but nobody wants to use this process because not one force is adequately equipped to deal with such a situation.”
Jimeta continued: “In the face of that, more and more law enforcement agencies are being created. For instance, you talk about the strength of the Nigeria Police Force of about 380,000. They are poorly paid, terribly organised ...That is why people are becoming despondent and state cannot provide for this thing to take off.
“If the state can really maintain and fund these people properly, there is no need for any complaint. But again, there is this propensity for African leaders to want to have more powers but they don’t want to follow laws of the country. They want to do it any how, resulting in loss of lives and property’’, he said.
The former IGP also called for financial autonomy for the police for better performance.
His words: “Parry Osayande quoted from the report of the reform panel that we had and submitted to the government of late President Umaru Yar’Adua and a white paper was made and accepted. So, when again he was appointed to be chairman of another panel, he only drew inferences from that original report.
“As far as the police are concerned, with the peculiarity of having a single police force under a command structure that is national, there is very little that the Police Affairs Ministry could do.”
He continued: “As it is today, if you look at the budget for the police, you will see that a large chunk of it is being put under the police affairs for paying the personnel, duplicating what the police are already doing. As an accounting officer, you also write expenditure, the operation man of the police force is the man who should be placed with the demands and problems of the police force.
“The police were denied the right to handle their own finances, including salaries and pension. The police are clearly a large body of manpower, their welfare and day-to-day need, their service condition and entitlements, that is what police administration is.... We could surely look after our own finances and funds. I will assure you that the fraud that went into the police pension would not have happened if it were under the police authority.’’
He blamed the problems of the police on military intervention.
“The military has destroyed the police budgeting system. Nothing has been done for the police since the First Republic but more and more responsibilities have been added. A lot of damage has been done to that institution. We have an opportunity to correct things now. The poor salaries make them despondent. Police demand power to control their finances. We have to fight the mafia that wants to hijack the country in the name of state police.’’
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