Politics

Insecurity: When Bamidele Reiterated Need for State Police

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CHUKWU DAVID reports that Senate Leader, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, has been in the forefront, canvassing for establishment of state police, given his belief that it will serve as a pragmatic step towards effectively curbing insecurity in the country

Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, who represents Ekiti Central Senatorial District, first served in the House of Representatives in the Seventh Assembly, precisely between 2011 and 2015, before he subsequently sought for and got elected to the Senate in the Ninth National Assembly. During the Ninth Assembly, when the issue of state police creation was highly contentious and seen from the prism of regional politics and ethno-religious dichotomy, Senator Bamidele remained undaunted and persistent in demanding for its establishment. He maintained that it is the only way to go in the fight against terrorism, banditry and other criminal activities currently troubling the country.

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A peep into Bamidele's activities in the last Assembly, reveals that each time the matter of insecurity came up for discussion in the Upper Chamber, he never failed to use opportunity given to him to reiterate the dire need of state police, as the only efficacious means of dealing with the worrisome vice. He has always canvassed and expressed the opinion that security operatives recruited, trained and deployed to safeguard their immediate geo-political zones would be more committed and patriotic to discharge their duties more diligently than those brought from other areas, particularly as Nigeria is a country heavenly afflicted by centrifugal forces of ethnicity and religious bigotry.

Apart from the factors of ethnicity and religious biases among the different sections of the country, which have adversely affected the unity, growth and development of the nation, Bamidele has always believed that security operatives working within familiar terrains would be more active and result oriented in fighting crimes and criminality.

In the present 10th Senate, where he is the Majority Leader, the lawmaker has also continued to raise campaigns within and without the precincts of the National Assembly, on the need for Nigeria to decentralised the country's police force, by setting up state police to tackle headlong the various security challenges traumatising Nigerians across the country.

Accordingly, he is currently working towards enlightening various segments of Nigerian publics on the need to embrace and support the establishment of state police, so as to frontally combat the menace of insecurity ravaging the nation at the moment. This is why in recent times, whenever he appears in public to deliver a speech, he rarely concludes without touching on security and the imperative of creating state police, with emphasis on the fact that the nation's centralised police force cannot effectively address the highly complex and complicated security challenges confronting Nigeria.

For instance, delivering a distinguished personality lecture series of the University of Ilorin's Department of Political Science, in conjunction with the Institute of Legislative Studies, titled “Constitutional Amendment and Political Dynamics of State Policing in Nigeria,” recently, the Senate Leader said that security affairs should be decentralised in the country. He argued that a decentralised police force will go a long way to mitigate Nigeria's current security challenges with the proper control mechanisms put in place, while pointing out that with the present police system, which is “ailing and dysfunctional,” there is the need for state police.

“We must admit that the system can no longer guarantee the dignity of human lives and the security of collective assets considering our security dynamics in the Fourth Republic. The proposal for the creation of state police has been a subject of intense debate in the last decade or more. This, in part, can be attributed to the rise of armed attacks orchestrated by diverse interests either pursuing divisive agenda or seeking predatory ends in virtually all geo-political zones,” he said. Senator Bamidele, who said that Nigeria must explore state policing as the next available option to the central police force, added that the central police force had failed to effectively manage the nation's security challenges.

The Senate Leader, however, noted that the move towards state policing is not without its political complexities. He added that one of the primary concerns is the potential for abuse of power by state governors, who he said might use the state police forces to suppress political opposition or violate human rights, saying that the fear is justified but could be mitigated.

The police have not been set up properly to succeed in this nation. Effective policing in Nigeria is almost impossible unless there are fundamental changes

Another problem he identified for the reason some people are opposed to the establishment of state police, is financial implications of setting up such security outfit. According to him, it requires huge financial investment to guarantee sustainability and efficiency, so as not to have a repeat experience of the present defective and inefficient federal police force.

His words: “I maintain that the police have not been set up properly to succeed in this nation. Effective policing in Nigeria is almost impossible unless there are fundamental changes. Indeed, the constraints faced by the police are used as excuses for various misconducts and unprofessional behaviours by many officers of the force.

“Despite many attempts by the leadership of the Nigeria Police to enforce discipline and even sack bad eggs, operational misconduct is still prevalent in the ranks of police operatives, and this undermines their capacity to decisively respond to pervasive insecurity nationwide. “This fear is not unfounded, given Nigeria's history of political tensions and abuse of power. To mitigate such risks, any constitutional amendment must be accompanied by stringent checks and balances.

There should be robust mechanisms for oversight and accountability to ensure that state police forces operate within the bounds of the law and respect citizens' rights. Federal oversight, independent review boards, and clear legislative frameworks are essential to prevent misuse of power. “Another critical aspect to consider is the economic feasibility of state policing. Establishing and maintaining state police forces requires significant financial investment. States must be prepared to allocate adequate resources for training, equipping, and remunerating their police personnel.”

As a potential solution to the foreseeable problems capable of threatening the existence, survival and efficiency of the proposed state police outfit, Bamidele suggested that the Federal Government, on its part, could support this transition through grants and technical assistance, ensuring that no state is left behind due to financial constraints. He said: “The path to constitutional amendment and the establishment of state policing in Nigeria must be carefully navigated. It requires broad consensus and collaboration among federal, state and local governments. Stakeholders, including civil society organizations, traditional leaders, and the general populace, must be actively involved in the discourse to ensure that the transition is transparent and inclusive.

“Public education and awareness campaigns are also vital to garnering support for this significant change. The benefits of state policing, such as enhanced security, improved community relations, and more effective crime prevention, must be clearly communicated to the Nigerian people. “In other words, a constitutional amendment to introduce state policing represents a transformative shift in Nigeria's security landscape. While the political dynamics and challenges are substantial, they are not insurmountable. With careful planning, robust safeguards, and a commitment to democratic principles, Nigeria can build a more responsive, accountable, and effective policing system.”

The lawmaker also recommended the establishment of an Independent Police Service Commission to guarantee the autonomy of the state police at federal and state levels in matters of appointment, discipline, promotions and accountability. He added that the commission should be patterned after the National Judicial Council (NJC) to prevent politicians from interference. The Senate Leader expressed concerns about the establishment of local security agencies by some state governments without a legal framework.

In his welcome address, the Acting Head of Department (HOD), Political Science, Dr. Adebola Bakare, said that the Department settled on the topic; Constitutional Amendment and the Political Dynamics of State Policing in Nigeria,” because of the conflicting trajectory of State Policing, among levels of Nigerians.

“While some people argued for the establishment of state police to complement the federal policing architecture to adequately cover the nooks and crannies of the country, others are afraid of what will become of the state police in the hands of tyrant governors. “Our intention is to use today's lecture to stimulate further discourse on the subject matter. We plan to organize a two-day roundtable subsequent to today's lecture where stakeholders (security officials, CSOs, farmers, herders, marketers, and the media, among others) will be invited to deliberate on the way forward.”


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