16 governors back state police, submit reports to FG

Sixteen   state governors have submitted reports expressing their supports for  establishing state police to the National Economic Council.

They also recommended changes to the constitution to allow for the creation of state police.

The reports were amongst documentations received at the 140th NEC meeting presided over by Vice President Kashim Shettima at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja on Thursday.

Special Adviser to the Vice President on Media and Communications, Stanley Nkwocha, revealed this in a statement he signed Thursday titled, ‘NEC endorses take-off of $617M i-DICE programme across states.’

According to the statement, NEC is still awaiting reports from 20 states. It expressed confidence that others would support.

NEC was established by the provisions of section 153(1) and Paragraphs 18 & 19 of part I of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). Its membership comprises the 36 state governors, the Governor of the Central Bank and other co-opted government officials.

Chaired by the Vice President, NEC meets monthly to execute its mandate of “advising the President concerning the economic affairs of the Federation, and in particular on measures necessary for the coordination of the economic planning efforts or economic programmes of the various Governments of the Federation.”

Disclosing discussions at Thursday’s NEC, the Vice-President’s spokesman, Nkwocha said, the “Secretary to NEC (Mr Nebeolisa Anako) made a presentation on submissions by states on the state policing initiative. Reports have been received by 16 states on the establishment of State police. 20 states have yet to send in report. All states across the country expressed their support for the establishment of state police for the following reasons.

“States made presentations in support of the creation of state police. States recommended changes in the constitution and the current policing structure to enable the operationalisation of the initiative.”

However, no details were given about the specific states. The Vice President’s spokesperson had affirmed that the total number would be presented at the next NEC meeting even as “the compilation is still going on”.

This comes weeks after the Federal and state governments, on February 16, 2024, resolved to develop modalities to create state police to tackle the country’s security crisis.

Abduction wave

The nation has been wracked by waves of abductions, attacks by suspected bandits and other violent crimes, reviving calls for the establishment of a multi-level policing system, including state police.

Bandits have in recent times  495 persons in Kaduna, Sokoto and Borno states.

On March 7, over 280 pupils and teachers of Government Secondary School and LEA primary School at Kuriga, Kaduna State, were kidnaped.

The terrorists reportedly invaded Kuriga in Chikun Local Government Area, Kaduna, shooting at their targets before whisking away the pupils and teachers from both schools.

A day earlier, the United Nations confirmed the abduction of at least 200 internally displaced persons from their camp in Ngala Local Government Area of Borno State.

The UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, Mohamed Fall, in a statement said the abductees, including women, boys and girls, were captured while fetching firewood. Fall added that the terrorists released some older women and children below 10 years.

On March 9, bandits reportedly kidnapped no fewer than 15 Tsangaya students at Gidan Bakuso area of Gada Local Government Area in Sokoto State.

On March. 14, at least 17 Nigerian soldiers were killed while on a peace-keeping mission to douse clashes between Okuoma and Okoloba communities in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State.

On February 20, bandits kidnapped over 26 travellers along the Gusau-Sokoto highway. They were said to have blocked the road around Kwaren Kirya village under Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State and abducted travellers from a Toyota 18-seater bus and a Volkswagen golf vehicle.

At President Tinubu’s meeting with the governors last February, the Federal Government and states agreed to recruit a yet-to-be-disclosed number of forest rangers and invest in more training to “keep our forests and our borders safe,” said the Information Minister, Mohammed Idris, when he briefed State House Correspondents after a meeting between Tinubu and the 36 state governors.

“The Federal Government and the state governments are mulling the possibility of setting up state police,” said Idris, adding that “this is still going to be further discussed.”

He explained, “A lot of work must be done in that direction. But if our government and the state governments agree to the necessity of having state police, this is a significant shift.”

“Like I said, more work needs to be done in that direction. A lot of meetings will have to happen between the federal government and subnationals to see the modalities of achieving this,” Idris noted.

On February 20, 2024, a bill proposing the creation of state police successfully passed the second reading at the House of Representatives.

The legislation titled, ‘A bill for an Act to alter the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, to provide for the establishment of State Police and related matters,’ was slated for a second reading before the end of this week.

Backed by 13 House members, the bill gained the majority’s favour in the Green Chamber, with many lawmakers arguing that the security challenges take preeminence over concerns about political victimisation by state governors.

Punch newspaper
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