State police not negotiable!

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*Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan speaks on insecurity, says state police not negotiable

*That allowing states to have own police is panacea for successful fight against crimes

*Recalls that Constitutional Conference he convened in 2014 backed state police

*Nigeria not yet ripe for state police, IGP Kayode Egbetokun insists

By Aaron Ossai

Amidst debate on whether or not the Nigeria Police Force should be decentralised to enable the state governments to have their own police, former President Goodluck Jonathan has insisted that establishing state police is not negotiable.

He said that security challenges that have bedeviled the country in recent time can only be reduced to the barest minimum if not eradicated completely through the state policing system.

The former President who spoke at the opening ceremony on National Dialogue on State Policing organized by the House of Representatives in Abuja yesterday said “there is no way we can manage the rising cases of violent crimes across Nigeria especially banditry, kidnapping and armed robbery without state police.”

He recalled that the majority of the delegates that attended the National Conference organised during his tenure as President in 2014 agreed on the establishment of state police as a better way to fight insurgency and other criminal activities in the country.

“What we should be talking about now is how to run the state policing system when established because the issue of state police is not negotiable.

“I do not support the argument that when established, state police personnel should not be allowed to carry sophisticated weapons. In fact, states that can afford the funds should equip its own police very well and even assist neighbouring states to do the same where necessary.

“States must have their own police to be able to fight crimes and criminal elements” he said explaining that his state, Bayelsa tried it sometime ago, established outfits such as Coast Guards and National Border Guards which he said helped in controlling crimes in the state.

Speaking further, former President Jonathan recalled that the Police force was decentralized at a time, regretting that the military scrapped it during their reign.

Earlier, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Kayode Egbetokun had said that Nigeria is not yet ripe for state police saying that instead, the Nigeria Police Force should be fortified by merging it with personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC and that of the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC.

Represented by the Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, Ben Okolo, the IGP regretted that police presence is not felt in many parts of the country especially schools which has made pupils vulnerable to criminals.

He also lamented that inadequate equipment, inadequate training and lack of funds; dilapidated barracks among others have made it impossible for the police to effectively carry out their duties.

Declaring the event open, President Bola Tinubu represented by his vice, Alhaji Kashim Shettima effective and efficient reforms in the police force to ensure improvement in response time in case of emergency.

Prominent among those who graced the occasion are former head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd), former Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Dioceses, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Tajudeen Abbas, Deputy Senate President, Barau Jibrin among others.