How State Police Can Work — Lawyers Provide Insights

State Police: A New Step for Better Security

To tackle the increasing insecurity in the country, President Bola Tinubu and state governors have decided to create a plan for state police. This decision, announced on February 15, 2024, by Minister of Information, Mohammed Idris, comes after a crucial meeting where the President and governors discussed the need for change.

This news has brought hope and excitement to many Nigerians who feel that the current federal police system is not enough to handle the various security problems in the nation. However, some people are cautious because the government has talked about police reform before.

President Tinubu had previously mentioned increasing the number of police officers, which is currently over 300,000. In October of the previous year, he chaired a meeting called the Nigeria Police Council conclave and started a Constitutional Review Committee for thorough police reform.

History of Unsuccessful Police Changes

The Nigeria Police Force, which started in 1820 during colonial times, has seen many attempts at reform, but not much has changed. Different groups and committees, dating back to 1989, have suggested changes, but not many were carried out.

In 2006, a panel led by President Olusegun Obasanjo and chaired by former Inspector-General of Police, Muhammad Danmadami, didn’t lead to any changes. Similar things happened with other panels, like one led by Muhammadu Dikko Yusuf in 2008.

Even the 2014 National Political Reform Conference, which suggested letting states create their police and promoting community policing, didn’t see action from past presidents.

After the #EndSARS protests in October 2020, some changes were made, but they didn’t solve the main issues in the police force.

What’s Next for State Police?

With the idea of state police coming up, many are asking how it will work. Here’s what some lawyers think:

#### Prof Ernest Ojukwu, SAN:
– Suggests a mix of federal and state control with set standards.
– Wants separate State Police Service Commissions for hiring, promotions, and discipline.
– Thinks community policing and careful officer selection and training are important.

Prof Sam Erugo:
– Thinks there should be rules to stop ethnic bias.
– Worries about state governors misusing state police power.
– Talks about funding problems and the need for laws to protect state police.

Prof Mike Ozekhome, SAN:
– Believes governors should fully pay for state police and work with federal police.
– Says there should be rules to stop governors from using police against opponents.
– Wants state police to have modern tools and gear to fight crime.

Malachy Ugwummadu:
– Suggests a local security system working with federal police.
– Thinks keeping State, Divisional, and Zonal Commands is a good idea.
– Talks about getting information from local communities for better policing.

‘Deji Ajare, Executive Director, Sterling Law Centre:
– Thinks there should be national rules for all state police to follow.
– Wants groups in each state to watch over the police to make sure they’re doing the right things.
– Says police should be trained well and work closely with the community.

Hannibal Uwaifo, President, African Bar Association:
– Thinks state police will let decisions happen faster and cut down on corruption.
– Worries about finding enough money, but sees benefits in local control.

Evans Ufeli, Executive Director, Cadrell Advocacy Centre:
– Thinks state police should not be controlled by the federal government.
– Says police should work for the people, not the governors, and focus on using technology.

Joseph Otteh, Executive Director, Access to Justice:
– Says we might need to change the constitution for state police to work.
– Thinks we should plan carefully before setting up state police to avoid problems.
– Talks about the risks of copying current police issues at the state level.

Moving Forward

The idea of state police brings both good and bad things. With advice from legal experts, it’s clear we need a careful plan, including changes to the constitution, independent oversight, and community involvement. As Nigeria moves towards state police, we need to work together to make sure it brings better security and fairness for everyone.

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