The National Coordinator, Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN) Okechukwu Nwanguma has said the call for State Police has been recurrent because of concerns over deteriorating insecurity in Nigeria.
He said in 2012, a Civil Society Panel on Police Reform noted that previous government Committees on police reform rejected calls for State police, arguing that local police forces were misused by politicians in the past, or will lead to the break-up of Nigeria in the future.
He said the Civil Society Panel argued that Government should establish a committee to work out the modalities for the establishment of State police in states desirous of maintaining such, with a view to recommending the framework and measures that should be put in place to address the concerns against state police.
He said state police should only be established on a basis of strict adherence to the principles of operational autonomy, and be based on sound professional practice in appointment, operations and control.
He added that there should be defined parameters of cooperation, which provides that where a state does not fully cooperate with its counterpart or the Federal Police on any matter, the Federal Police should take over and deal with the matter as is common in other jurisdictions.
He also said civil society organizations should work with the legislature to conduct informed debates in partnership with the media, towards amending the Constitution to allow for the establishment of State police and also produce a bill that will guarantee the establishment of independent and professional state police services.
Also speaking to newsmen, Criminal Justice (CRIMJUST) Program Officer, with Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Samuel Asimi, said a lot has been said about the establishment of the state police lately, however, we would like to focus on the implementation.
He said, “For us, at CISLAC we would like the implementation to reflect and enhance accountability and integrity especially among the rank and file of officers.”
“A state policing system that will be subjected to the manipulation of- or hijacked by the Governors to intimidate or suppress opponents is totally not acceptable,” he added.
He said they emphasize a state policing system where officers from a certain environment are duly employed to police the area.
He noted that this will boost community trust and improve security through information flow by the citizens to the officers who are familiar with the environment.
He said the issue of funding is paramount; “some states are already struggling to pay salaries. What happens to the state police in this context? We witness every day how brutal, corrupt and violent police officers prey on citizens’ as a result poor remuneration system or lack of appropriate incentives.”
He added that “We need to make evidence-based decisions before we jump to fixes, which have the potential to worsen the matters.”