Why We Insist on State Police – Southern Governors

June 25, 2024

Southern governors yesterday said having state police will give them more control over security decisions in their states.

They believe locals are better placed to fight crime because they understand the terrain and language.

The state helmsmen met under the Southern Governors Forum (SGF) in Abeokuta.

They appointed host Governor Dapo Abiodun as chairman.

Anambra State governor, Charles Soludo, was named vice-chairman.

Also in attendance were Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Biodun Oyebanji (Ekiti), Alex Otti (Abia), Godwin Obaseki (Edo) and Ademola Adeleke (Osun).

Others were Bassey Otu (Cross River), Francis Nwifuru (Ebonyi), Peter Mbah (Enugu), Duoye Diri (Bayelsa) and Umo Eno (Akwa Ibom).

Deputy governors Chinyere Ekomaru (Imo), Monday Onyeme (Delta) and Olayide Adelami (Ondo) represented Hope Uzodimma, Sheriff Francis Orohwedor Oborevwori and Lucky Aiyedatiwa respectively.

Rivers State governor, Similayi Fubara, was absent and was not represented.

Abiodun replaced the former Ondo governor, the late Rotimi Akeredolu.

The governor, who was featured on national television last night, said the forum deliberated on state police, the political upheaval in Rivers, infrastructure and agriculture, among others.

He said the 17 southern governors were united in their call for state police.

Abiodun said: “We all spoke with one voice in support of state policing.

“We spoke with one voice in support of regional security outfits which almost all regions have set up.

“The outfits are working hand in glove with the law enforcement agencies and providing them with intelligence and support.

“We all know that we cannot have any meaningful development in the atmosphere of insecurity.

“We all spoke with one voice in support of state policing, and regional security outfits, working hand-in-glove with the security outfits.

“The governors are called state chief security officers. But, we know that the Commissioner of Police is appointed by the Inspector General of Police and is only answerable to the IG.

“And when the governor needs to call the attention of the CP on an urgent task in his state, the governor will have to first clear with the IG.

“What have we discovered? In most cases, a policeman from Borno, Maiduguri, posted to Lagos or Ogun states, for instance.

“Such an officer doesn’t understand the terrain, he doesn’t speak the language and he does not get the level of intelligence he needs.

“By the time he is settling down to understand these factors, he is transferred to another state.

“We’re calling for community police to tame insecurity in the state and the nation.

“Under the state police arrangement, a policeman posted to his ward won’t have problems with language and intelligence.

“In that case, the policeman understands the community and the locals, language, the sentiments and, he knows the criminals within his territory.

“It is also common knowledge that the federal police have a shortage of manpower.

“We, as governors, are not in charge or control of our states as far as security is concerned.

“Yet, we fund the federal police operations, yet we are not getting the best from them. They don’t have enough personnel.

“State policing is not something new.

“We have several types of policing structure in other climes where we took our democracy from.”

Speaking on local government tenure, Abiodun said it was unconstitutional for anybody to extend the tenure of constitutionally elected public servants.

Referring to Rivers political quagmire where the House of Assembly extended the tenure of the local government chairmen, Abiodun said: “On local government administration, it is a constitutional issue that will be put to rest at a point in time.

“When your tenure has expired, it stands to reason that your tenure has expired.

“It is not up to the governor of that state or anybody else to extend the tenure of the local government chairmen.

“The collective position of the governors is that it would be a dangerous precedent and an abuse of the democratic ethos for the tenure of an elected local government chairman to expire and for anyone to imagine that their tenure can be extended by one day.

“I think that puts that matter to rest. If that is not the case, that becomes a precedent, a reference point, and the thing is that somebody will ask for a tenure extension.

“Our democracy has evolved and we should not do anything to truncate the process.”

Abiodun, who said the forum also agreed on a modal transport master plan for the region, noted that the governors were delighted with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for the award of the coastal road project.

“We spoke about infrastructure. For us to be regionally integrated, we must have the infrastructure for investment facilitation, promotion, for enhancing movement of goods and services.

“On that note, we were unanimously appreciating President Tinubu for the construction of the coastal road.

“This road connects almost all southern states. It is a key enabler of economic development like no other. It will also create a lot of job opportunities.

“We also spoke of the need for the Federal Government to transfer some of the Trunk A roads to the states if a state government is prepared to take on such roads.

“We also agreed to have a modal transport master plan that allows us to connect rail, water and road transportation because we realised that transportation is key to enabling investment promotion, facilitation and the general wellbeing of our people”he said.