The National Assembly will back the establishment of state police as recommended by the recently-concluded National Conference, Gyang Pwajok, a senator from Plateau State said Tuesday.
Mr. Pwajok told the News Agency of Nigeria in Jos that one major feat the conference achieved was its acceptance of the need for states to establish their own security outfits.
“This is in view of current threats and realities,” he said. “Such recommendation is no doubt in tandem with what analysts have always suggested as the best way to tackle peculiar security challenges faced by various states.”
Mr. Pwajok said the approval of the proposal by delegates, cutting across regional divide, had shown a dramatic shift as regions which had initially opposed state police endorsed it.
“The general approval of state police showed a change in perception; it has dawned on many Nigerians that tackling grassroots crime cannot be effectively handled under a centralised policing system.
“For us on the Plateau, the state police formation holds a special place because of our hills and mountains,” he said. “Attackers had always hit and run into hills, but if we have local people that know that terrain as the security men, they could be pursued.’’
He dismissed the argument that the state police could be abused by the governors.
The senator explained that there was nothing to be afraid of since the policy had been tried in other federal structures and found to be successful.
Mr. Pwajok observed that governors that initially opposed the move had local security outfits.
He pointed out that legalising state police could give such outfits the legal cover to protect the people while complementing the central police force.
The senator, however, urged the Federal Government to assist the states to provide such complementary efforts, noting that such assistance would be crucial to neutralising the teething problems the new bodies might face.
Mr. Pwajok, however, expressed reservation over the creation of new states and criticised the “very sweeping manner’’ the conference members looked at the exercise.
“Creating new states will mean fragmenting the already fragmented smaller units which could weaken them and make for a stronger centre which we have always feared.
“Worldwide, meagre nations are emerging after mergers of units; we should be emulating such steps toward stronger, bigger and united groups rather tearing into smaller units,’’ he said.
The senator also opposed the recommendation to delist local governments, saying that they should be left alone but placed directly under states to be run as local units.
“My suggestion is that the Federal Government should not fund local governments. There are some local governments that do not merit that status because they were randomly created.
“You also remember that local and state governments run joint accounts, which in effect means that they are one and the same.
“So, placing the local governments directly under the states will not be anything new.’’
On the conference’s recommendation for the removal of immunity for state governors, he suggested that the clause should be left as it is.
“If you leave the governors vulnerable, they will be distracted by all manners of litigations; many governors have always faced legal actions after office and I think that is okay.
“The governors should be allowed to keep their immunity while in office so that they will not use such distractions as reasons for poor performance,’’ he said.