Insecurity: Tambuwal’s renewed call for state police raises fresh hope

Governor of Sokoto State, North-Central Nigeria, Rt. Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has added his voice to the clamour for the establishment of state police as a panacea for tackling the growing menace of insecurity in the country.

Speaking at the opening of the National Executive Council meeting of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Sokoto state on Saturday, Governor Tambuwal noted that the current security situation leading to the incessant killings across the country, clearly shows that those calling for state police were justified.

Tambuwal, in apparent reaction to the killings in various parts of Nigeria, particularly the recent massacre of close to 200 persons in Plateau State by suspected herdsmen, said “whether we like it or not there is seeming justification for state police and there is seeming justification for state governments to have some measures of control over security personnel.”

While stressing the need for state governors  to be allowed some measures of control of security personnel in their respective states, Tambuwal lamented that despite being called chief security officers of their various states, the governors currently lacked  control over the police personnel posted to their states who take orders from the Inspector-General.

To buttress his point, Tambuwal said as a sitting governor, “you call police Commissioner and that call is ignored, (which) is unfortunate and unacceptable.”

The first time Governor Tambuwal spoke in support of state police in Nigeria was in 2015 when he received the then Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Solomon Arase who paid him a courtesy visit in Sokoto. On that occasion, he suggested that to effectively provide adequate security to its teeming population, Nigeria should decentralise its police force and allow state police.

He had told the visiting IGP that that even though some governors in the North had in the past kicked against state police, “present realities on ground indicate that the model is the best way to go.”

Tambuwal recalled that while serving as Speaker of the House of Representatives from 2011 to May 2015, the legislature had supported the move even though the exercise has not seen the light of the day.

“I believe it is time we reopen the debate considering the huge security challenges confronting the federation and how local expertise, if properly deployed, can be of great help to securing our communities,” Tambuwal added.

Governor Tambuwal’s renewed came barely four months after Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN agreed in February this year that adoption of state police was the way to go in meeting security needs of the country.

“State police and other policing methods are clearly the way to go,’’ Osinbajo had declared in his presentation at a National Security Summit organized by the National Assembly in Abuja, arguing that “We cannot realistically police a country the size of Nigeria (with over 900,000 square Kilometres and 180 million people) centrally from Abuja.’’

Similarly, a recent survey conducted by NOIPolls showed that in spite of resistance against its formation by a segment of the country, the proposed creation of state police has enjoyed the support and approval of over 61 percent of Nigerians.

According to Chief Executive Officer, NOIPolls, Dr. Bell Ihua, the surprisingly boost received by the state police proposal shortly may have followed the blessings of Vice President Osinbajo and 36 state Governors.

Said Ihua, “It is worth noting that the North-West (69 percent), the North-East (68 percent) and the North-Central (65 percent) zones accounted for the largest proportion of Nigerians who showed their support for the creation of state police. “This is not surprising as these regions have had a fair share of security challenges. For instance, the high occurrence of cattle rustling in the North-West, Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East, and the farmers and herders’ clashes in the North-Central have continued to pose serious security challenges to the inhabitants of these regions; not to mention the loss of lives and properties as well as displacement of people.”

Only two days ago Vice President Osinbajo, like governor Tambuwal, insisted that only state police could end the spate of killings across Nigeria, arguing that policing was a local function and policemen must be able to speak and understand the local language.

In a keynote address he delivered at the third anniversary of the 8th Assembly of the Lagos State House of Assembly on Friday in Lagos, Osinbajo said state police remains the surest way of tackling the current security challenges like herdsmen and farmers’ clashes in parts of the country.

He said: “We have argued repeatedly, and we believe it is the position of our party, that you cannot police a country of this size with a police command that functions out of Abuja. It is just impossible. We must have state police and community police. Policing is always a local function. Anyone who is a policeman must be able to speak and understand the local language. If a policeman does not understand the local language, he stands at a major disadvantage. This is why state or local policing is important as part of our security architecture.”