Friday, March 4, 2016 10:20 am
Nothing better justifies the need to now collectively push for the establishment of state police in Nigeria than the current security challenges facing the country and for which the police now seem overwhelmed.
It is now common knowledge that though the security of lives and properties of the citizens remains a cardinal objective of government, no Nigerian, as it is now, can boast of sleeping with his two eyes closed. Anyone who does that would only have done so at his own peril.
Nigeria, a country of an estimated 174.2 million people only grapples with 370, 000 policemen with analysts estimating a policeman to 100,000 citizens. Even a machine or robot would not be effective when thrown into use in this kind of a situation. It is even worsened by the fact that politicians and political office holders, top business men and wealthy Nigerians have appropriated a chunk of the police personnel, thus further depleting the forces’s capacity to protect citizens.
The people are now forced to resort to self-help.
In many communities, residents adopt the use of vigilantes or night watchmen, many of whom are not even trained for the task but simply see the job as an opportunity to earn money for themselves and their families.
The average duty of the police is to maintain internal security but undoubtedly, this inadequacy of police officers partly and effectively gives hoodlums, criminals and the criminally minded the opportunities to strike at will given every flimsy circumstance.
However, while some even argue about inadequacy and poor funding of the police, it is widely known that the police system itself is made of more ‘rotten eggs’ than imagined. If not, how would a security system paid with public fund employ officers who become public enemies? How could a policeman suddenly turn his gun at innocent Nigerians over a little provocation? We daily hear sour tales of this sort.
It is awful to note that in every 10 Nigerians, at least, eight have a resentment for the police because of some unsavoury experiences with the law enforcement agency. At least, seven out of every 10 believes that the police is corrupt and not a ‘friend’ as the force largely wants to make people believe.
As it is now, there is hardly any state in Nigeria that has not been enveloped in one form of security challenge or the other. Imagine how lives and properties were destroyed in the Mile 12 area and its environs in Lagos, a former capital of Nigeria and Africa’s business hub on Thursday with many of the residents accusing the police of looking the other way until much harm had been done and the governor of the state, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, declared a curfew later in the evening.
We recall with much sadness the abduction of three students in their school in the Imota area of Ikorodu, Lagos on Monday while they were preparing for their examination. According to parents of the girls, it took the police time to brace up for the search of the students. According to them, this was why it became difficult to track the children immediately.
Some Benue communities have now been rendered homeless as a result of the nefarious activities of cattle herdsmen. Their plight did not start today, but what had been the role of the police in maintaining peace in the area? It is not just enough to rush into a crisis scene, restore peace and leave the people to their fate till crisis erupts again. Why shouldn’t there be constant enlightenment?
Just like many other Nigerians, we urge the Federal Government, particularly the National Assembly, to begin to look into the possibility for states to establish their policing system. The Nigerian Governors’ Forum must also commence agitation in this regard. Apart from helping to curb insecurity, it would also help reduce unemployment.
*An editorial Opinion of TheNEWS