State police proponents should consider counter arguments – AGF Malami

Abubakar Malami
Abubakar Malami [Photo Credit: lawyard.com]

The Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, Abubakar Malami, has advised proponents of state police to balance it against fears of politicisation of police activities, arms proliferation and bias.

The AGF gave the advice in his address at the opening of a two-day retreat organised by Southern Senators’ Forum in Calabar on Friday.

He said that while there was no doubt that state police services may ensure deeper grassroots penetration, the fears of abuse should not be undermined.

“The discourse here has largely been driven by arguments by several state and non-state actors in favour of the establishment of State Police Forces or Services, as the case may be.

“Arguments both ways are quite persuasive in my opinion.

“There is no doubt that state police services may ensure deeper grassroots penetration by operatives of the police due to greater understanding of local conditions, give governors more de-facto supervision of security and create employment opportunities.

“We must, however, balance them against fears of proponents of a strict federal police.

“They fear the negative possibility of respective state police operatives supporting their respective communities, say in the case of a boundary dispute between states,’’ he said.

On federal character principle as contained in the 1999 Constitution, Mr. Malami said it was one the most potent provisions for securing the unity of Nigeria.

He said that federal character provision as reiterated under Section 14(4) of the Constitution reflected geographical diversity and fairness in the composition of their various bureaucracies.

According to him, it has helped in maintaining political stability, and Nigerians have taken the provision as an article of faith that geo-political balancing must be reflected in all areas of governance and opportunities.

“This provision at federal level is further emphasised in other parts of the constitution, such as Section 147(3) which compels the President to appoint at least one minister from every state of the federation.

“Section 153(1) (c) which establishes Federal Character Commission (FCC) to give effect to constitutional provisions on the principle on a continuous basis to ensure that Nigeria is run to guarantee participation for all to encourage national unity.

“And, Section 219 is on the role of the National Assembly in maintaining the federal character principle in the armed forces, among others,’’ he said.

Mr. Malami pointed out that the practice of the federal character principle in Nigeria was however without challenges.

He said it had been argued for instance, that rather than promote national unity, it had led to ethnic and regional prejudices, thus resulting in the exact opposite of what it was set to achieve.

He further said that it had also been posited that appointments were based on states of origin rather than suitability.

He said there was no doubt that the discussion of the principle would always be a sensitive issue in the view of different interests.

The AGF maintained that every federation required some level of affirmative action or regional balancing to ensure that all parts of the federation developed at a reasonable level.

He stressed that the practice of the principle must be predicated on using the best from every part of the country, adding that suitable people abound in all parts of the country.

“Gross inequalities within any federation in terms of access to power and its privileges or participation in the political space or distribution of opportunities can only result in greater political dysfunctions which may destabilise the nation.

“However, in applying the principle, there is a heavy responsibility on the Nigerian political elite, including those of us gathered in this room.

“We must operate the system in a manner that promotes quality and equity, and avoid a recycling process that alienates the majority of qualified persons even within our individual constituencies,’’ he said.

On security and its implications for national unity, the AGF said national security in Nigeria had been organised on a strict, central command structure under the federal government.

According to him, the security has served the interests of national unity since 1999 and should be strengthened to achieve optimal efficiency.

“We can legitimately ask whether this security architecture has served the purpose of national unity since the Constitution came into effect or whether there is room for its re-evaluation and re-positioning.

“I have no doubt that the centralised military architecture we have in respect of Army, Navy and Air Force and associated agencies like Department of State Services (DSS) has served the interest of national unity.

“It should therefore be strengthened to achieve optimal efficiency. Any other recipe will naturally be disastrous and tear the very fabric of our nation’s unity.

“Our focus should therefore be to continuously improve our military into an apolitical, professional and efficient force to carry out its responsibilities under Section 217 (2) (a) (b) (c) and (d) of the constitution.

“It appears to me that all Nigerians are united on this point,’’ he said.

Mr. Malami commended the Southern Senators Forum for coming up with the initiative to organise the retreat.

He said the effort to gather and collate views of critical stakeholders from the country on the simmering issue of restructuring and national unity must be lauded.

“It is particularly instructive to note that the idea behind the formation of this forum is not to balkanise Nigeria into South and North.

“It is rather to galvanise and articulate view-points from all constituencies within the Southern part of the Nigeria for the purpose of ultimately achieving overall national consensus.

“Democracy has often been described as the best form of government to foster unity in a multi-cultural, multi-religious and ethnically-diverse society.

“Indeed, it has been posited that the worst form of democracy is better than the best form of dictatorship. This is to say that there is no alternative to democracy,’’ he said.

The minister urged the forum to examine his position further in the course of deliberations and come to a resolution to further promote national unity.

(NAN)

CJM/OPI/OPI


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  • Ajike Ole

    I don’t think state police will be subject of abuse and politicization more than what we presently have today. A governor’s security withdrawn and it’s good provided the federal government does it not the state. Malami or whatever they call you, state police is long overdue.

  • Decimator

    “The Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, Abubakar Malami, has
    advised proponents of state police to balance it against fears of
    politicisation of police activities, arms proliferation and bias”.PT

    Exactly what Malami and his fellow Vandals in governance have achieved through their Incapacitated Unitary Police on one hand and proliferation, if not subtle support for their Fulani Herdsmen Vandals on the other.

    What then is he talking about?

    • princegab

      Thanks, en pointe bro.

  • Gary

    There you have it, the position of the Buhari Cabal is “No to State Position”.
    Just like they oppose Restructuring or even devolution of powers to the States.
    So those who have different ideas should do like Atiku: leave the APC under the control of Buhari’s CPC faction and government.
    And Nigerians who want a different direction for the country should reject Buhari and his party at the polls if he stands for re-election. Just like they did with Jonathan and the PDP.

    Democracy afterall is a contest of ideas. And the ideas or lack thereof of the Buhari Cabal are retrogressive and inimical to the hopes and aspirations of the generality of the Nigerian people.

  • Opekete

    What I find disgusting in public discuss is name calling and abusive language employed to describe people we disagree with. This attitude is not only beneath civility it is a further testimony to the inability to comprehend issues being discussed. Malami has contributed his viewpoint to the discuss, can we now please present our own counter perspectives to his propositional assumption without disrespecting his person? I support state police and devolution of power which will make each state to be responsible for the growth and welfare of their own people.

    • Really

      What is more abusive and disrespectfull than taking the over 170 million citizens of the Nigerian enclave for granted or rather hostage?

  • Gidi

    The main crux of his argument is that we should continue with status quo despite plenty of evidence indicating that current system is not working.

    Again, the argument put forward by the main opponent of state police is not convincing. Nigeria population is more than 160 million and the idea that one centralize police can control and maintain security in all part of the country is ridiculous to say the list. How many more lives have to die before we embrace reform?

    What is FG afraid of? Some of us that are arguing for state police knows that it is first step of bringing security to local communities all across the country. We want the power of securing our neighborhood decentralize from Abuja to our local jurisdictions.

    Rather than dismissing the argument put forward by proponents of state police, why can’t FG start by experimenting with small states. Pick 1 state from each region to begin a pilot program. I will gladly volunteer Ekiti State to start pilot program in South West and let see how they fair in 2 years. I am sure the people of the state will embrace it and secure their communities. After two years, we can revisit and see what went well and what can be improved upon. Time for reform is now.

  • george bolatiwa

    The issue of the State police should not be a political except that we live in a nation where every issue is politicized for selfish gains, after all we all agree that the Police as presently constituted cannot, does not, will not serve with efficiency as a major and primary organ of law enforcement. Mr. Malami in his submission urged that the current police structure should be made to be strict and I find that comment reprehensible because law enforcement agencies must be strict in enforcing their mandate under the law. The question is why is the current law enforcement regime in this country weak, and I mean, Police, civil service ( of which Mr. Malami is a major factor) judiciary and the likes because they serve the interests of the elites and not the dictates of the law. To this end, the states or the regions must be allow to Practise their version of law enforcement and if the Federal government is alive to its responsibilities will rein in any erring states or regions found impugning the rights of any Nigerian. We must change our moribund view of governance that has kept this nation in perpetual retrogression on almost all issues and thereby short changing the progress and growth of Nigerians as an entity. Affirmative action, quota or Federal character whatever we tag them must be reviewed by our legislators on a very regular basis to improve its effectiveness. The law establishing such provisions must emphasis clearly the importance of qualification and not just representation. This country belongs to All Nigerian and no group no matter how arguably powerful should monopolize or control the organs of governance if we are to survive. May God bless our country Nigeria.

  • Izedomi Ohirein

    States police don’t have to be heavily armed or given power of arrest and detention for more than 12 hours.
    Nigeria Police number is insufficient and under equipped to police a country the size of Nigeria.
    States Police could be required to refer cases that require more than 12 hours detention, kidnapping or armed robbery to the national police at the early stage of the policy.
    Intelligence gathering and monitoring criminals are aspects of policing. Policing does not mean executing arrest and prosecution only.

  • Mentus

    As has already been said Malami’s arguement i.e. politicising the police force also applies to the current arrangement which allows the IG appointed by the president, unfettered power to do as he likes giving rise to AG himself prosecuting the senator that blew the whistle on him – Idris.
    However to reduce the chances of that happening why not start with regional policing for SW, SS NW etc. It will be harder for the force to be controlled by one governor.