Why State Police Will Not Work In Nigeria – Governor Umar Bago

The governor of Niger State, Mohammed Umar Bago has said the idea of the Federal Government to create state policing system will not work. In an exclusive interview with TheCable, Bago said other countries of the world who have introduced state police are not having a good time today. In his words

TheCable: Are you in support of state police?

Bago: How do you mean? Are you talking about abolishing the federal police and every state having their police or having the two together?

TheCable: Both federal and state police will operate side by side. That’s what the bill is proposing.

If it comes that way, it’s a good one, because everybody will have to rebrand its own police. However, we also have to look at case studies of South Sudan — some countries in this world that had state police and plunged into crisis. Everybody will now build a small army and before you know, it becomes a crisis.

We have to look at it very well. We need to look at it at a round table and discuss the pros and cons. But even the police we have today, we need to reform them. The funding of the police should change. Let states have a hand in funding the police and also control the police. That’s all. Everybody should be employed in their local governments and should work there. That is state police. You recruit people and you cannot move from your local government till you work for ten years. Let it be like that; it will solve the problem.

India has a population of over one billion people and they have federal police. It’s working effectively because everybody is drawn from their community. Let me be able to say I need one million police in Niger state, if you have the resources, you go for it.

But you know people can abuse it. I am a governor today. If you are in my state and I have powers of the police, I will lock you up and nothing is going to happen, and I can drive everybody out of the state and run my election. It can bring about tyranny. We have to be very careful with whatever we do.

I think if you draw from the constitution, you will understand that currency, foreign policy and defence are strictly an exclusive matter and we shouldn’t use politics to now take it up from exclusivity. The people who crafted the constitution knew exactly what they were after. They needed to protect even the ordinary citizens. Again, over the years, you have a proliferation of vigilantes and other small corps that are working with the police like the civilian JTF. What is their fate post-peace? How do you handle those issues post-peace? How? If you have peace today, Boko Haram, banditry, and IPOB are gone, those pockets of militia that you have created to protect you, what is their fate? They are armed. That is why some people are saying the earlier you convert them into the police structure, the better so that at least you can control the menace. So, a lot of discussions and conversations will have to go on and on in an attempt to understand this state police issue.

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