Opinion

State Police: A metaphor for Gestapo

T he crave for state police as a panacea for escalating security challenges in the country has gathered momentum. The Southern Nigeria Governors Forum had called for the amendment of the 1999 Constitution to provide for state police. Admittedly, there are merits in the criticisms of the current security arrangement which is truly inefficient. The problem of the present Nigerian security system was brought to the fore a few years back when the Enugu State Government got security information about an impending herdsmen attack in one of her communities but tried unsuccessfully to mobilize respective commands of available security agencies for proactive actions until the attacks commenced. The bloody attacks recorded many casualties and gory tales.

Similar instances of lethargy as well as cases of lack of commitment, dereliction of duties and religious or ethnic biases by various state police commands all feed the agitations for state police. As a stop gap, many states and regions have established regional security outfits to beef up the security of their respective states or regions.

Like always, the states of the defunct Western Region now known as the Southwest geopolitical zone of Nigeria took the lead in the formation of a regional security outfit known as Amotekun. The Southeast, after sitting on the fence for a considerably long time, equally established her own security outfit known as the Ebubeagu Security Network.

Very recently, Benue State in the North central part of the country took a leap and established her own local security outfit known as the Benue Volunteer Guards, BVG. Besides these, every other state in the rest of southern Nigeria as well as parts of Northern Nigeria which are not core Muslim states have respective local vigilantes, while the core Muslim states of Northern Nigeria have their respective Hisbah Corps otherwise known as Sharia police in local parlance.

The Hisbah, which is allegedly a nightmare to nondoubles Muslims, stands out as a classical oddity in the secular country which Nigeria claims to be. Dispassionate assessments of people’s experiences and narratives arising from the operations of these alternative security arrangements show that except for the Amotekun Security Network and probably the recently established Benue Volunteer Guards, all other security networks have become political attack dogs and instruments of torture and harassment in the hands of the respective state governors.

These governors unleash them at will on their real or imagined political rivals while the poorly remunerated and often compromised formal security agencies in those states turn to either spectators or willing accomplices of the respective governors. The crimes of the targets of such unwarranted attacks oftentimes have always been that they hold different political opinions from those of the respective state governors who usually double as actual state commanders of the respective regional security outfits. We have read about the alleged massacre of wedding guests and other non printable activities of Ebubeagu in Imo State.

In Ebonyi State, we have read about the abduction and torture of a social critic, Chika Nwoba; the manhunt for a two-term federal legislator, Linus Okorie; the harassment of Princess Agom-Eze and other innocent Ebonyi women suspected to hold different political opinions from the state governor by Ebubeagu. While Chika Nwoba and Hon. Okorie got reprieves from the Federal High Court, Princess Agom-Eze has been in exile because the All Progressives Congress Chairman who nondoubles as the security consultant in Ebonyi State, Stanley Emeagha, had allegedly ordered for Agom-Eze’s arrest because she contested the Ebonyi South APC senate ticket with the outgoing governor of the state, Engr. David Umahi. The Ebubeagu Security Network in Ebonyi State has been severally accused of killing innocent citizens and operating a torture chamber in the old Government House in Abakaliki.

By the configuration of Ebubeagu Security Network in Ebonyi State where the state governor, David Umahi, who has overflowing partisan emotions is the overall commander; the Ebonyi State APC, Chairman, Stanley Emeagha, is the Ebonyi State security consultant; and the Special Assistant to Ebonyi State Governor on security matters, Ikechukwu Eze, is the Commander of the Ebubeagu Security Network, one cannot blame Ebonyi citizens for allegedly regarding the state command of Ebubeagu Security Network simply as the Ebonyi State APC youth wing! Historically, state police in the early 60s was abrogated because it was politicized by regional governments.

The foregoing verifiable instances of the management of the regional security outfits which can be regarded as shadow state police show that there is no guarantee that state police will not be turned into modern day Gestapo by powerhungry state governors aspiring to become political godfathers. State police will therefore compound the security challenges in the country. Instead of creating Gestapo in the form of state police for state governors, operatives of the present centralized Nigeria Police Force should be re-oriented on patriotism, neutrality, commitment to duty; and provided with necessary equipment and remuneration to become functional.

The command network of Nigeria Police Force and the provisions of the Police Act offer committed, equipped and properly motivated operatives sufficient leverage to promptly prevent, combat and unravel crimes. The appointment of Inspector-Generals should be handled by the Police Service Commission in order of seniority.

 

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