Nigerian Police Chief Warns Against State Police as Federal Government Backs Initiative

The Nigerian police chief warns against state police, citing potential abuse by governors, while the government insists on establishing it to address security challenges. The debate reflects the complex balance between decentralization and accountability.

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Nigerian Police Chief Warns Against State Police as Federal Government Backs Initiative

Nigerian Police Chief Warns Against State Police as Federal Government Backs Initiative

The Nigerian Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, has cautioned that Nigeria is not yet sufficiently prepared for the establishment of state police forces, citing concerns over potential abuse of power by state governors. Egbetokun, represented by Assistant Inspector-General of Police Ben Okolo at a dialogue on state policing, argued that challenges such as inadequate manpower, equipment, and training need to be addressed within the existing federal police structure before considering a shift to state-controlled law enforcement.

The police chief expressed fears that state police could be exploited by powerful governors for political or personal gain, potentially jeopardizing human rights and security in the country. He also pointed to the risk of jurisdictional conflicts arising from multiple command structures. As an alternative, Egbetokun proposed merging the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) to form a department within the Nigerian Police Force.

However, the Federal Government, represented by Vice President Kashim Shettima, insisted that there is "no going back" on the initiative to create an enabling environment for the establishment of state police across Nigeria. Shettima acknowledged the complex security challenges facing the nation and stated that the administration of President Bola Tinubu is committed to developing effective approaches, including a careful review of the state police option.

Why this matters: The debate over state policing in Nigeria reflects the urgent need to address rising insecurity, while also considering the potential risks and challenges associated with decentralizing law enforcement powers in a complex political landscape.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan and former Head of State Abdulsalami Abubakar both expressed support for the establishment of state police, with Jonathan describing it as "non-negotiable" in the face of escalating violent crime. The National Assembly is currently considering a bill to establish state police alongside the federal police force, with the House of Representatives Speaker Tajudeen Abbas urging stakeholders to provide a framework to mitigate abuse by state governors.

Key Takeaways

  • Nigerian police chief warns Nigeria not ready for state police due to abuse concerns
  • Proposed merging NSCDC and FRSC into Nigerian Police Force as alternative
  • Federal govt insists on creating enabling environment for state police across Nigeria
  • Debate reflects need to address insecurity while considering risks of decentralization
  • National Assembly considering bill to establish state police alongside federal police