We are intervening in 86 inter- state boundary disputes-
DG, National Boundary Commission (NBC), May 30, 2021
The agitation for state police as solution to the current hybrid insecurity bedeviling Nigeria has assumed larger than life image. Those previously opposed to the idea, appear to be buying into it now. What appears to be a direct confrontation between proponents of federal and state policing, took place on January 5, 2022; when President Muhammadu Buhari came out to restate his opposition to it. The President categorically stated that state police is not an option; in apparent reaction to the veiled call for state police by South West (SW) governors. The governors of SW, while reacting to the incident at Magodo Estate, reaffirmed their position on state police. They were outraged by what they termed, “the disgraceful exchange between a police officer, a CSP, and the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwoolu, the supposed Chief Security Officer of the State, at the Magodo Residential Estate”. It could be recalled that on January 5, 2022, CSP Abimbola Oyewole led a team of armed policemen to take possession of a portion of Magodo Estate on the strength of Supreme Court judgment.
Many Nigerians and more state governors are almost on daily basis, calling for the introduction of state police as a sure way of ending the current insecurity in Nigeria. The governor of Ondo state, Rotimi Akeredolu, who doubles as the spokesperson of South West governors’ forum, has even made the call for the establishment of state police, a daily sermon. But is state police really the answer to insecurity in Nigeria? This writer believes that based on the way state police is practiced in other climes; it should ideally be the solution to insecurity in Nigeria. But putting Nigeria side by side with the United States America (USA) which is a model country in terms of state policing practice, I will say state police may not be the solution to insecurity in Nigeria.
Without doubt, state police can only be effective in a Community Based Country (CBC). The term community based country is my coining to depict a country that can as well be called a “community” by definition. The classical definition of community will suffice here. Community is “a group of people having ethnic or cultural or religious or linguistic characteristics in common”. By this definition, America can be regarded as a community by reason of language homogeneity. Although, different nationalities came together to form USA, English is its official and unofficial language. America can as well be regarded as a Speech Community- people sharing a given language or dialect. In this scenario, it is easy and practicable to adopt state police in US. Above all, there is no intra and inter ethnic boundary/land crisis in US.
Based on the preceding paragraph, we cannot in all honesty call Nigeria a community based country. In other words, since Nigeria is not homogeneous in terms of language, it cannot be called a community. Thus, establishing state police in Nigeria will lead to problems. It can be clearly seen that fundamental condition necessary for effective state police is homogeneity of language. This is lacking in Nigeria and so if state police is practiced, it may lead to inter and intra ethnic anarchy of unimaginable proportions. If one takes a quick look at the geo-political structure of Nigeria, one will notice that only two zones, South-East (SE) and South-West (SW), can enjoy the benefit of State Police because of homogeneity of language. The remaining four (4) zones will not enjoy such benefit because of heterogeneous language structure in the zones. Even State Police in SE and SW will eventually migrate to Regional Policing for obvious reason of language homogeneity.
In the case, of SE and SW, we will be dealing with regional policing without legislation. Because of the fact these two regions can be regarded as speech communities, the adoption of state police will automatically lead to regional policing. Another danger inherent in state police is the possibility of a major opposition party deploying it against the ruling party, as what happened in the run-up to the Presidential election in the US appeared to suggest. It will be recalled that #BlackLivesMatter protests was triggered in part, by the brutal killing George Floyd; the killing of Breonna Taylor and the fatal shooting of another black American, Jacob Blake, also fueled the protest. These incidents took place in Democrat controlled states of Minnesota, Kentucky and Wisconsin. The said protesters targeted “raciest” President Donald Trump and Republican Party. The questions here are, why attack Donald Trump when we know he does not control Police States in US? Why were the Governors’ of the States where the unfortunate incidents occurred, speared in the attack by the #BlackLivesMatter protesters? One had thought that the protesters anger should have been directed at the Chief Security Officers in the states in question. Did someone exploit the collective emotion of Blacks in the circumstances to misguide and misdirect them? The possibility of #BlackLivesMatter like protests arising under state policing architecture may not be ruled out in Nigeria because just like in US, Nigeria has two dominant political parties.
The argument often advanced by proponents of state policing is that Commissioners’ of police don’t take orders from the Governors, who they say, are the Chief Security Officers (CSOs). This argument is at best, simplistic and not entirely correct. In fact Chief Executives (President, Governors) are only CSO in Command and not in Operation, irrespective of any variant of policing adopted by a country. The CSO in Operation in a State is the Commissioner of Police (CP). A State Governor or even the President cannot be CSO in Command, at the same time, in Operation because he is not in the field, neither is he trained to understand operational issues. In some cases, for instances, the President or Governor may not be allowed to go where he wants to because of unfavorable security report. And this report is usually supplied by the CSO in Operation. On the 6th of July 2022, Bandits in Katsine attacked President Muhammadu Buhari’s Advance Team of security guards, protocol and media officers ahead of the President’s trip to Daura for Sallah celebration. Unfortunately, an assistant commissioner of police lost his life in the attack. It must be understood that the attacked Presidential team was on operational mission to ensure that security was perfect ahead the arrival of the CSO in command, President Muhammadu Buhari. From here, we can clearly see that CSO in command cannot take up operational function, as the job is meant for CSO in operation.
A perfect example that shows Police works independently of Chief Executives when it comes to operational issues, manifested in New York on November 2020. It could be recalled that the then Governor, Andrew Cuomo, via executive order, asked the Police in his State to enforce COVID-19 restriction in every household on Thanksgiving Day. The order was largely not obeyed by the State Police, and the then Superintendent of Police, Keith M. Coorlett, was not sacked, also, the Police chiefs in the Counties that refused to carry out the Governor’s order were not dismissed. This incident took place in a country where State Police is in practice. Can this happen in Nigeria under State Police architecture?
To be continued.
Hybrid Insurgency In Nigeria: Why State Police Is Not The Solution. (2)
The relationship between CSOs in Command (President and Governors) and CSOs in Operation (IGP, CPs & DPOs), in an ideal democratic setting like ours should be anchored on effective leadership from CSOs in Command. And Effective leadership in democracy means that the President and Governors must ask Police Managers, Data Based questions, and holding them accountable for their failures. Anything short of asking questions and demanding answers, with the purpose of holding Police Managers accountable for their failures, is undemocratic and dictatorial at best. The first impeachment of the former president of USA, Donald Trump was based on quid pro quo of Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Congress established that Trump tied the release of financial aid meant for Ukraine to the indictment of Joe Biden and his son over their activities in Ukraine; apparently to give him, Trump, an edge in US presidential election.
What this writer thinks federal government should genuinely reinforce federal policing in such a way as to attract the buy-in of Nigerians. One way of reinforcing federal policing is by creating a platform that gives ownership of the fight against insecurity to all Nigerians. This will stop state policing agitation that has the potential of igniting Intra and Inter ethnic arm struggle in Nigeria, with about 371 ethnic groups. State policing, if adopted, will be dangerously inimical to the corporate existence of Nigeria. For example, what dimensions will the fight between Ife and Modakeke take in Osun State, if state policing is embraced in Nigeria? What about Umuleri and Aguleri fight in Anambra State? Will State Police stop the fight between Tiv and Jukun in Taraba state? What about inter-ethnic crisis in Plateau state, will state police remedy it? What will be the scenario in Adamawa and Gombe States, with respect to Lunguda tribe and their Waja counterpart?
We must understand that the Intra and Inter ethnic crisis we are seeing across Nigeria today is being curtailed, not because the warring factions, decided to embrace peace, but because of federal policing architecture. Replace federal policing with any other variant and see Hobbesian state of nature in Nigeria. On May 30, 2021, the DG of National Boundary Commission (NBC) said that his agency was intervening in 86 inter-state boundary disputes. This is the main reason this writer is not in support of state policing architecture in Nigeria. We can only imagine what the scenario would have been in these 86 dispute areas, without federal police in place. For sure, if Nigeria had embraced State Policing, these 86 crisis areas will automatically become war zones. We are not talking of intra state land/boundary crisis yet. That, too, will become intractable under state policing architecture. It is obvious that state police will lead to full blown arm struggle within the Police and by extension, in Nigeria. Proponents of state policing should know that police personnel were recruited from these crisis areas and so they can use the weapons given to them against each other, in defence of their respective “fathers’ lands”.
For sure, our federal policing system is not perfect, but we can make it democratic, responsive and equitable. All we need to do is to put on our thinking caps and fashion out modality our federal policing equitable. To me, the agitation for state police is elite based and will not achieve meaningful result because of its political nature. It is doubtful if seating governors that are in the forefront of the agitation will carry on with the agitation after leaving office.
When a country is facing hybrid insecurity like we are seeing in Nigeria now, the best thing a seating President should do is to give the citizens ownership of security in their respective communities, by extension in Nigeria. What is community policing, other than Nigerians taking charge of security in their communities? The arising question from here, is how can citizens’ ownership of security be possible? Nigeria can simply buy into a simple security strategy called, Anonymous Mail-in Crime Report. This is a security system that bypasses the Trust problem between Nigerians and the Police in the process of offering intelligence on crime to the Police. Also, this method of crime reporting gets around Confidential Hazard associated with offering information on crime to the Police via phone. Under this security arrangement, the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) will serve as Intermediary between Nigerians and Police in the process of intelligence on crime in the country. The choice of NIPOST as intermediary is based on spread. NIPOST outlets and Police stations, runs neck and neck in terms of spread in Nigeria. So, Nigerians will find it easy reporting crime in their respective communities.
One good thing about this intelligence gathering system is that it is Secured and Protective in nature. What President Buhari needs to do to lay a solid foundation for a Citizens oriented Intelligence gathering policy, as well as Democratic solution to the fight between proponents of federal policing and their state policing counterpart is to issue executive order on Anonymous Mail-in Crime Report. The report of this intelligence gathering system is right now in Office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF). The Executive Order will put the initiative on a sound footing towards serving as Independent but Complementary Driver of policing, particularly, federal-led community policing in Nigeria. An Executive Order proclamation on the initiative will automatically make it a Secured and Protective Citizens’ Based Whistle Blowing Policy on Insecurity in Nigeria.
Finally, it is without doubt that introduction of state police in Nigeria as a way of solving the current hybrid insecurity will surely lead to COBRA EFFECT, as stated above, and so it should not be contemplated at all. Cobra Effect explained: Cobra effect, also called Perverse Incentives, describes unintended negative consequences when a reward or incentive is offered to solve a problem. The story goes that many years ago, in colonial India, there was a cobra infestation in the city of Delhi. So the British created a bounty for cobra skins. They thought by offering a reward for dead cobras, the public would solve the problem. But instead of capturing feral cobras and killing them, people started farming cobras for their skins. The British eventually got wise to the cobra-farming industry, and canceled the bounty. But with no bounty to collect, the cobra farmers set their snake free in the city- making the infestation even worse than before. It is from this story that the Cobra Effect gets its name.
In a nutshell, state policing, seen in many quarters as the only solution to current Insecurity in Nigeria, may actually worsen the problem. A truly inclusive, democratic and Nigerian oriented federal policing architecture which Anonymous Mail-in Crime Report seeks in part, to enthrone, will preserve our Unity in Diversity, on the other hand, state policing architecture, will surely promote Disunity in Diversity!
This piece is Emeka Oraetoka’s modest solution model to the problem of Insecurity, as well as a simple method of Strengthening Federal Police in an Inclusive manner. His solution model is also aimed at providing democratic solution to the fight between proponents of Federal and State Policing, currently tearing Nigeria apart. He is the Chancellor of Anonymous Mail-in Crime Report Advocate (AMICRA). He writes from Abuja, Nigeria.
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