Nigerian Police Official Retracts Statement Rejecting State Police

AIG Okolo's controversial comments on Nigeria's readiness for state police spark debate, as the government seeks police reform to address rising insecurity. The official stance is expected soon, highlighting the complex challenges in balancing effective law enforcement and concerns over potential abuse.

Nasiru Eneji Abdulrasheed
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Nigerian Police Official Retracts Statement Rejecting State Police

Nigerian Police Official Retracts Statement Rejecting State Police

Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) Ben Okolo, who represented Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kayode Egbetokun at a public dialogue on state police in Abuja on Monday, has provided an explanation regarding a controversial statement he made about Nigeria's readiness for a decentralized police force. Okolo stated that his personal view that 'Nigeria is not ready for a decentralized police force' does not reflect the official stance of the police force.

While speaking at the national dialogue, Okolo had argued that Nigeria is not yet prepared for state police despite the country's ongoing security challenges. He suggested that state governors could potentially misuse state police forces for political or personal gain, leading to conflicts of jurisdiction and exacerbating ethnic tensions. Okolo also proposed merging the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) to become departments within the Nigeria Police Force instead of establishing state police.

However, Okolo later withdrew his comments, emphasizing that they were his individual opinions intended to stimulate national discourse and did not represent the position of IGP Egbetokun or the Nigeria Police Force as a whole. He clarified that he was not directed by the IGP to disagree with the views of former Head of State Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar and former President Goodluck Jonathan, who have both expressed support for the creation of state police.

Why this matters: The issue of state police has become a contentious topic in Nigeria as the country grapples with rising insecurity and calls for police reform. The debate over decentralizing the police force highlights the complex challenges of balancing effective law enforcement with concerns over potential abuse of power and ethnic tensions in a diverse nation like Nigeria.

President Bola Tinubu, represented by Vice President Kashim Shettima at the dialogue, stated that his administration is committed to reforming the country's policing system to improve security. Minister of Police Affairs Ibrahim Gaidam also argued that a decentralized police system would be more effective in reducing crime rates. Despite the challenges involved, former President Jonathan stressed the need for the Federal Government to consider instituting state police, attributing the progress in Akwa Ibom state to the prevailing peace and security.

The official position of the Nigeria Police Force on the issue of state police is expected to be made known in the near future, as the nation continues to grapple with finding effective solutions to its security challenges. AIG Okolo's withdrawal of his personal views has underscored the ongoing debate and the need for careful consideration of all perspectives in the quest for police reform and improved security in Nigeria.

Key Takeaways

  • AIG Okolo clarified his personal views on state police do not reflect the police force's stance.
  • Okolo argued Nigeria is not ready for state police, citing potential misuse by governors.
  • Okolo proposed merging NSCDC and FRSC into the Nigeria Police Force instead of state police.
  • President Tinubu's administration is committed to police reform to improve security in Nigeria.
  • The official police position on state police is expected to be made known soon amid ongoing debate.