The increasing cases of terrorism, kidnapping for ransom, cultism and other violent crimes across the country must have justified the incessant calls for the establishment of state police by prominent Nigerians, socio-cultural groups and others. Unfortunately, some administrations since the present political dispensation have made pronouncements on the issue but did not do much to ensure its establishment.

However, the plan to establish state police was critically examined over a month ago when President Bola Tinubu met with the 36 state governors following the rise in violent crimes and abduction of innocent Nigerians by bandits and other criminals.

So far, about 16 state governors have submitted their reports in support of the establishment of state police to the National Economic Council (NEC). They also called for some changes in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to pave the way for the creation of state police. The reports were submitted to the 140th NEC, which was presided over by Vice President, Kashim Shettima, in Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

It is worth pointing out that Section 214 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) envisaged only one police force for the entire federation. According to it, “there shall be a police Force, which shall be known as the Nigeria Police Force, and subject to the provisions of this section no other police shall be established for the Federation or any part thereof.” For Nigeria to have other layers of policing as being planned, this section of the Constitution must be amended.

While we commend the 16 state governors who have submitted their reports in support of the establishment of state police, we enjoin the remaining 20 state governors to expedite action on their reports and submit to NEC without further delay. The current state of insecurity does not require the luxury of time in submitting their reports. There is no doubt that the present policing system, which is highly centralised, has failed to provide the much-needed security for all Nigerians.

Even the occasional reinforcements from the army and other security agencies have not really helped the situation. Like other federations the world over, Nigeria is ripe for several layers of policing for adequate coverage of the entire country. The situation we are in does not require any dillydallying over the matter. It is one issue that must be treated with great urgency before anarchy sets in. In the United States, there are several layers of policing such as federal, state, county, city and others. There are also several layers of policing in other federations such as Canada, India and Australia.

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Instructively, the need for other layers of policing is being served by some state security organisations such as Hisbah in Kano State, North-West, Amotekun in the South-West and Ebube Agu in the South-East. Other geo-graphical zones may have theirs. They all indicate that there is a huge gap in the present policing system that needs to be filled.

The need for the establishment of state police cannot be overemphasised. Since every crime is local, it has become imperative to localise security so that the citizens can really participate fully in their own security. State and local policing will lay much emphasis on indigenes of a state or a community been recruited to be in charge of security in their domains since they know the people and the terrains very well.

Moreover, state police will quicken the response time to crime scenes and speedy up investigation of crimes. It may even help nip crime in the bud. The establishment of state police will increase the nation’s police numerical strength, which is very low at the moment at about 350,000 personnel securing over 200 million Nigerians.

Therefore, the decision by the President and the governors to establish state police in response to widespread criminalities across the country is timely and must be supported by all stakeholders in the Nigerian project. The time has indeed come for the government to prioritise security because without it not much can be achieved in the other sectors. We urge the lawmakers at the federal and state levels to come up with the enabling laws that will pave the way for the establishment of state police.

The matter must not be dragged for too long before state police is established. It is interesting that a bill for the creation of state police has successfully passed the first and second reading in the House of Representatives. All hands must be on deck to hasten the process of establishing state police.

No doubt, state police will help in addressing the nation’s security challenges. However, the fears that state police will be abused by governors and other politicians must not be dismissed. Let there be adequate laws to check and sanction such abuses and make them a rarity.