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The Erroneous Omission of State Policing

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By Timothy Akintola

The inability to curb crime raises concerns on the need for state policing.

The surging crime rate that has devastated the country has raised poignant questions about the nature of Federalism that is practiced. In every other federal ambience, state policing plays an immensely valuable role in their peacekeeping. Decentralization of the policing structure among the different states in the country have been continually tipped to play a significant role in salvaging the widespread crimes and violence that has overwhelmed the country; as grassroots policing will be efficiently enacted where the state is responsible for its policing.

However, the consistent omission of state policing in Nigeria’s constitution has been regarded as being erroneous. This oversight was made over forty years ago and since, the country’s Security system have shown immense inconsistencies at curbing the growing devastations that continuously affect the country. Right now, the cases of ISWAP, political thugs, Boko Haram bandits, kidnappings and overt Terrorism have sunk the security structure of the country, with citizens living in perpetual fear of being attacked.

Enacting state police will improve the security apparatus in the country.

While these security issues continue to cripple our faith in the policing system that is in place, it is important to note that the bill for state policing could still have been enacted, if the representatives at the helm of government really considered its importance in eliminating huge terrorizing demonstrations. Enacting the state policing will immensely improve the security apparatus in the country, as evident with the creation of the native police, AKODA, during the country’s first republic.

Section 106 (4) of the 1964 constitution recognized the establishment of regional policing, where it stated that the police commissioner of a region is stipulated to comply with the directives of the premier of that region as regards the maintenance and overt security of public safety and order within the region. This illustrates the efficacy of state or regional policing in ensuring peacekeeping and compliance of law and order when enacted. Thus, at a time when the country is battling its worst security crisis since the 1967-1970 civil war, the introduction of state policing will seem to play a pivotal role in curbing these security problems.

Ironsi’s suspension of the 1963 constitution expedited the loss of state policing.

Tracing the past presidential constitutions in regards to the framing of state policing, General Aguiyi Ironsi, the first military head of state, on January 1, 1966, did suspend the 1963 constitution which expedited the death of regional policing, an action that was further promulgated by Military governor of the Northern state in 1967, where he pronounced that regional policing was a thing of the past. All through General Yakubu Gowon’s tenure as head of state (1966-1975), there was no reference to the reenactment of the regional police.

This serves as a background for General Muritala Muhammad’s constitutional drafting committee, which was announced in 1975. The committee, headed by Chief. Alade Williams saw to establishing subcommittees that included public services including the Armed Forces and the police. The likes of Col. Pedro Martins, Alhaji Ahmed Talib, Dr. O. Idris, Mr. Makele and Chief Ekanem Ita were also members of the subcommittee. Since this inception, the country’s policing system has been federal.

The consistent omission of state policing have been immensely erroneous.

However, the country continues to be overwhelmed by criminal attacks from every region and while citizens continue to live in fear of being victims of these recurrent attacks, it becomes absolutely clear, to the fact that the consistent omission of state policing from the constitution have been immensely erroneous. The introduction of state policing will poignantly improve the country’s security system to efficiently implement direct measures for tackling crimes that exist within the different states and on the bigger spectrum, ensure peacekeeping in the country.

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