The Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, has decried the rising state of insecurity in many states across the country
He also lamented the increase in cybercrime in Ekiti.
The governor, who blamed these menaces on several factors ranging from poverty to desperation among Nigerian youth, emphasised the need to seek urgent measures to tackle such. One of such measures he says is the establishment of state police.
He said this during a panel discussion on the peace and inclusive security initiative organised by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) in partnership with the Centre for Democracy & Development (CDD).
Mr Fayemi, who is also the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), expressed his view on federal and state police as a measure to curbing insecurity.
This was in response to a question on the rejection of state police by the federal government and the National Assembly in the just concluded Constitution amendment.
Although state police was part of the recommendations from participants at the public hearing of the Constitution review, the federal lawmakers threw it out when the report was presented.
Federal police, Mr Fayemi said, abuse the rights of citizens, including the rights of governors – even with immunity.
He recalled how he was ‘abused’ in 2014 by the federal police – even as a governor with immunity.
In most countries, he said, there is a regulatory authority that is responsible for the punishment, and sanctioning of those who go beyond their own responsibilities.
“And I think that’s what we should be talking about. Rather than talking about the possibility of abuse, there would always be the possibility of abuse. We can’t run away from that. But do we have effective policing now that is federal?
“…there are also crimes that are within the borders of our states in accordance with the statute that’s been promulgated or enacted by our local state assemblies. And there are also crimes that are local, because they are local jurisdictions by local governments.
“If you have not paid tenement rate, the local police should deal with you. It shouldn’t be state police, because tenement rate is the responsibility of the local authority. Not the responsibility of the state. So that’s my take on that.”
When asked what states use security votes for, the governor said some state governors fund police more than the federal government.
“We buy them vehicles. We pay them allowances. In some cases, we even buy ammunition, of course under the authority. And if we are to engage our military in aid to civil authority, which you will find, actually in 36 states in this country today, we pay them.”
The governor also decried the rise in cybercrimes in his state – an issue he said, is becoming a major challenge for the government.
“The popular cybersecurity, yahoo yahoo is becoming a major issue for us. Because a lot of our young people are becoming engaged in these nefarious activities.
“And it is often not understood, because there is almost an inexplicable link between that and substance abuse, which is also on the rise in many of our communities. So these are things that we don’t particularly pay enough attention to, but where you find substance abuse, you’re likely to find cybercrime. And you are also likely to find arms proliferation, particularly small arms proliferation.
“…and ultimately, until we ensure that we address not just the conflicts and crime, but the causes of these conflicts. And we know some of them, out of school children, poverty in our communities, desperation amongst the young people in the communities and generally good governance, improving the quality of governance.
“We may not be totally able to avoid what we are going through. Even when you have all that you will still have crime. But if you don’t have it at all, then it becomes even more problematic for you.”
Local government autonomy
Mr Fayemi was asked his view on local government autonomy and why states do not let local governments play a role in providing security independently.
The local government financial and administrative autonomy was one of the 47 bills that the National Assembly passed in the just concluded Constitution amendment.
The legislations seek to allow local governments to run their structure and elections independently.
While Mr Fayemi said he has no objection to local authority playing a role in local security, he opposed the idea of letting local governments run and conduct their elections.
He said it does not suggest that local government autonomy is precisely the way people put it.
“The principle of federalism is very clear about federating units. local government, as a federating unit is a unique innovation in Nigeria, I don’t see it in any research work, in any book on federalism.
“Local government autonomy is the business of the state, because the state is the federating unit. And most federating countries that you have today, dual federating syste, you have the federal and you have the state. So those who are clamouring for local government autonomy, (it) is a populist demand. I don’t think ultimately it serves the purpose that they want it to serve.
“Because we have capacity challenges at that level just as we have at the state level. But the result is what you matter. And the result is that you can have Security Council in local authority. We have in my state, the local governments have a Security Council almost on a monthly basis, and they get involved in our security operations. So it is what they do, it is not the name they are called, that should matter.
“…we can have a regulatory framework for addressing the challenges of state government or ruling party appropriating elections to themselves, but to suggest that the solution is to bring INEC to come run the state Electoral Commission. I do not agree with you.”
On his part, the Deputy governor of Plateau State, Sonni Tyoden, who represented the governor, asked that vigilante groups be properly integrated into the mainstream security structure.
“The existence of these vigilante groups are manifestations of the disenchantment with the existing security apparatus. And I think if we modelled the vigilantes properly, incorporate them into the security structure, I think we will get something better out of it,” he said.
He also supported the call for community policing which he said is different from state policing and is being practiced in Plateau State.
At the event a handbook, by the CDD, on Peace and Inclusive Security Initiative was launched.
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