The former Nigerian leader believes there would be constitutional checks against excesses of state police
By Ini Ekott
Ex-military ruler, Ibrahim Babangida, on Thursday repeated his call for the establishment of state police, in a remark that puts the former presidential aspirant at odds with the position canvassed by northern governors.
Mr. Babangida spoke at an event in the Niger state capital, Minna, to mark his 71st birthday. He also reaffirmed his decision not to seek office again in 2015.
“I will not seek the 2015 presidential ticket, I will continue to play my role as an elder statesman and advise those in power and those seeking elective position, ’’ he said.
The retired ruler said fears that such a state force may be hijacked by state governors, were unnecessary as such moves could always be resisted by the people.
Mr. Babangida’s remarks followed a similar call he made ahead of his 2011 presidential bid, fuelling concerns the remark may have been more of a political showing than based on principles.
With a fresh constitutional review underway, the debate about setting up state police has won as much support as it has gained opposition.
The Northern governors’ forum denounced plans for any amendment that would authorize the proposal, weeks after the powerful umbrella body, the Nigerian governors’ forum, had backed the setting up of another tier of policing.
Mr. Babangida said those opposed to state police may be haunted by the notorious activities of the proscribed native police during the pre-independence period.
He said the fears by some Nigerians about the activities of the native police during the 1959 elections when the then government in power used the police to intimidate their opponents to win the elections were “unfounded” in the contemporary situation.
“We have passed that stage now,’’ he said.
He warned that if a sitting governor deployed the new police he would be in charge of, to commit electoral fraud, the people would be at the liberty to react by forcibly protecting their votes.
He also said constitutional safeguards would be put in place to curb such abuse.
Babangida said state police should administer state laws within the provisions establishing them, while the federal police should administer federal legislations.