No doubt, State Police is an important component of Federalism since sovereignty is divided between the Central authority and federating State authorities. And, the beauty of the establishment of State police is that it is in line with the principle of federalism on which Nigeria fashions its constitution.
As a Federal State, the power of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is divided between the central government called the Federal Government and the Federating units called the 36 States of the Federation. Law making function at the centre is the responsibility of the National Assembly while the State Houses of Assembly perform similar function subject to the limit permissible by the legislative list contained in Second Schedule of the Constitution; an extension of the principle of federalism to which our Federal and State Courts exist whereby States courts are allowed to exist alongside Federal courts with each jusrisdictions clearly spelt out.
By virtue of Section 5 subsection 1 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the executive powers of the Federation are vested in the President while that of the States are vested in the Governors. Meanwhile, the exercise of these powers in both cases extend to the execution and maintenance of the Constitution and all laws made by either the National or State Assemblies.
However, a critical analysis of the above Constitutional provisions will clearly reveal that each of the States constituting Nigeria is meant to be a complete government on its own with powers to make laws, enforce them and punish offenders through the judicial arm. But, it is embarrassing that under the Nigeria legal system, the only institution saddled with the responsibility of enforcing law is the Nigeria Police Force; a Federal agency.
It need not be gainsaid that Nigeria is too large and complex for its Police Force to be over-centralised when considering the recent level of threat to public security across the country. If truly Nigeria is a Federation, the Constitutional provision which provides for a single Federal Police must be amended to pave way for State Police thereby decentralising the Police Force. In fact, in an ideal federal system, the issue of State Police should not be a contentious matter. At least, in the First Republic, there were Regional Police and Local Police existing side by side the Federal Police.
Despite the fact that almost all the States in the country are investing heavily in the Police Force, Section 215 subsection 4 of the Constitution provides that a State Commissioner of Police shall be at liberty to refer a directive given by a State Governor to the President before acting on them. The implication of this is that the Police Commissioner in a State will have to take orders directly from Abuja as regards security issues even in the face of the huge financial burden States Government carry on their State Police which in the first instance should be the responsibility of the Federal Government with the Governors becoming helpless with no control over the Police.
Crime detection needs a local knowledge because every crime is local in nature and policing is essentially a local matter. We must not continue on this current centralized police structure in the country as it will continue to limit the capacity of States to effectively address security issues.
Those raising arguments against the creation of Amotekun in terms of it being turned to an instrument of repression need be told that, even, the present centralised policing arrangement has, over the years, equally been subjected to limitless abuse by the central authority. The argument itself is sickening as it is premised on the wrong assumption that the federating States in Nigeria lacks the power to maintain a discipline force which is far from the truth. The Federal Police itself is not immune from corruption, indiscipline and oppression
Governors in the South Western should not bow to empty threats from Abuja. We are on the path to what Federalism is and the fear is real. Amotekun has been unleashed against those threatening our territorial integrity and they must not be recalled. Amotekun should be allowed to let loose of hell on the marauding enemies of we the Yorubas.
However, in doing this, proper legislations should be put in place to resist abuse and misuse of power.
Kazeem Olalekan Israel (GANI) is the PRO, NANS Zone D (South West) [email protected]
SOURCE :The Nigerian Voice (opinions)