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State Police: Concern, anxiety as Tinubu, IGP disagree

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State Police: Concern, anxiety as Tinubu, IGP disagree

Questions are being raised over the tenability of the IGP’s tenure after the affront of the police hierarchy led by the Inspector General, Mr. Kayode Egbetokun, to the position of President Bola Tinubu toward state police.

Many tongues wagged at the conference on state police organized by the office of the Vice President, which President Tinubu personally attended and IGP was represented. Contrary to the positions expressed by the government and former president Goodluck Jonathan, and Gen. Abdulsallam Abubakar, supporting state police, the police vehemently kicked against it, listing several reasons for their opposition.

The spike in insecurity has been a source of concern to Nigerians of every persuasion. For the Tinubu administration, reining in the bugbear of insecurity is a cardinal principle, and of late, one of the front line suggestions to curb the spike is the institution of state police, an idea that predated the Fourth Republic.

The concept of state police has been a core of restructuring, which the Afennifere and National Democratic Coalition , NADECO, two sociopolitical organizations closely associated with Tinubu’s career as a progressive politician, have been canvassing for close to three decades.

It was, thus, not surprising, when President Tinubu reaffirmed his commitment to the idea as a recipe for current insecurity at a one-day National Dialogue on State Policing in Abuja last Monday with a theme : “Pathways to Peace: Reimagining Policing in Nigeria.”

President Tinubu implored the participants to subject to a thorough scrutiny, the idea of state policing from different perspectives. He affirmed his administration’s resolve to change the country’s security narrative. He stressed that his administration was aware of the complex security issues confronting Nigeria, and was continually developing and refining its strategies and methods to address the challenges effectively.

Other leaders, who voiced out their opinion on state police at the event, included former President Goodluck Jonathan and ex-military Head of State, Abdulsalam Abubakar; President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio; and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, among others, also rallied support for the initiative. They said it was in the overall interest of the country.

Surprisingly, the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, who also spoke at the event, toed a different line to Tinubu’s, as he radically charted a differing path to his boss.
Egbetokun, stoutly ran against the grain of establishing state police. The IGP, who was represented by Mr. Ben Okolo, an AIGP, rather made a case for the merger of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) as Departments under the police. The police chief also averred that the yearly police recruitment should be upped by, at least, 30,000 to meet the United Nations (UN) standard ratio.

He asked for increased budgetary allocations to the Nigeria Police for effective training of personnel in modern policing to enhance efficiency.

Egbetokun also argued for the amendment of the 1999 Constitution for more empowerment and funding of police, which is the leader in internal security among security agencies. His thesis was that if state police was established, governors would use the structure under their control for political or personal gains while also undermining human rights and security.

Egbetokun said the agitations for state police were informed by the perception that the police were not living up to their responsibility, a development he said was caused by a motley of challenges militating against the Force.

But aware of the implications of a different opinion on state police to his boss’ own, Egbetokun has since revised his view. The Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Ben Okolo, who represented Egbetokun at the public dialogue on state police a day later clarified the statement credited to him on the matter which had drawn reactions from many quarters.

At a briefing at the Force Headquarters last Tuesday, Okolo said his statement at the public dialogue a day before that “Nigeria is not ready for a decentralised police force” was a personal view and does not reflect the stance of the police force.

According to him, the position of the force will soon be made known.
Okolo had expressly said he was representing the IGP at the national dialogue on state police held in Abuja last Monday, saying that the country is not yet “mature” for state police despite Nigeria’s myriad of security challenges.

Speaking on the development, Professor Adeagbo Moritiwon, a political scientist, told Business Hallmark that “Egbetokun should have sounded out the view of his boss on the matter before going public with his own, but that doesn’t mean he can not have his own view on the matter.”

Dr. Abdullah Mohammed, a public affairs analyst, told this medium that ” It’s not a crime for the inspector general of police to hold a contrary view on a particular matter different from that of the president, the only thing is that people will use it as a sign of a crack in the administration. It is normal. Even in Western democracies, it happens. If you are against it , in the West the standard practice is to resign in protest.”

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He said that” Egbetokun is a fine officer, who meant well for the country, and in many quarters his suggestion for the merger of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense, Federal Road Safety Corps with the police is a good one. It depends on the angle of vision or perspective of the viewer”, Mohammed said.

 

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