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We have all heard the arguments, we know the immense advantage establishing state police in Nigeria will bring. Nigeria is a country with a population of over 170 million people, compare that with the measly 500,000 man strong Nigerian police force and it’s obvious to everyone that there is a huge imbalance with the numbers. Our Police force is stretched out to the maximum with one police man having to cater to 340 people. This system is definitely not sustainable
I could posit that employing more men in the federal police force would be a solution but adequately managing and equipping the current number seems to be enough of an herculean task currently for the institution. Though the police have always been funded, it is yet to reach its potential and provide adequate protection for the teeming populace. For instance, currently in Lagos State, hoodlums and thieves assaulting motorist in traffic and robbing them of their possessions is quickly becoming a fad.
A friend told me she keeps an empty hand bag in her car so when the thieves strike, she would offer them the empty hand bag while she plots her escape. The sad thing about her experience is the fact that she has had to find a way to manage the situation, a scenario where the hoodlums would be arrested and stopped never crossed her mind, she already expects it to happen again and again.
I believe Nigerians will have better security if States were empowered to operate state police. Another advantage is the number of unemployed graduates who will find jobs securing their local communities. Officers who will serve with better dedication knowing the lives of their families and friends are in the balance. Insecurity will gradually fade away. Securing the lives and property of everyone in Nigeria is not a task that can be handled solely by the Federal Government. State Governments should be allowed to contribute as well.
It should be noted that unofficial security outfits operate in many states in Nigeria, examples are the OPC and the Bakassi boys. However, a proper institution for state policing should be created and properly enabled. Many argue that state police will empower governors to be ruthless with power but there are a number of ways that may be prevented. The police could be empowered to run independently of state politics. Others have raised the issue of clashing jurisdictional issues between state police and the federal police force but this could also be solved by clearly establishing the jurisdiction given to the state police. Moreover, state police need not be mandatory for states that do not have the capacity to sustain its operation. States who have the capacity should however be encouraged.
The clamour for state police is getting louder, it is no longer a question of whether we should create the institution of state police but rather when we should establish same. Because, truth is, if Nigeria must truly embrace evolution and growth, state police will become mandatory. It is the only way to provide adequate security of lives and property for everyone in Nigeria. The desire for state police must however graduate into a constant interaction with the Legislature and other stake holders on putting in place policies that will support state policing. You can begin by writing a message to your local and state government representatives sharing with them your thoughts on the issue.
Adedunmade Onibokun Esq.