Emmanuel Onwubiko: Democratized looting and State Police

Stephen Hawking was a phenomenal academic who spent over two-third of his lenght of life on Wheelchairs as a physically challenged of unfathomable scientific dimension. He suffered from infirmity that is rare and which affected his sense of speech. However, Science came to his rescue to such a way that innovative solutions were found that enhance special communication between him and the rest of his community.

This genius gave up the ghost about few years back in his Country of Great Britain.

Incidentally and coincidentally, yours faithfully was fortunate to be visiting Great Britain then on a brief vacation just as this auspicious opportunity was quickly used by me to buy a total of dozen books written by him over the many years. Although I’m a trained Philosopher and a practicing Journalist and Writer without adequate background in Science, I found all his books so easy to decipher and digest given the expertise and simplicity of writing skills that Stephen Hawking brought to bear in all of his books which are purely Scientific. Science is looked upon as an esoteric knowledge that is not easily understood by non initiates. However, Stephen Hawking made Science reading very fascinating as if one is reading thriller of novels or watching one of those award-winning Hollywood movies.

In one of the great books authored by this phenomenal physicist titled; “A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME,” a reputable media institution in the United kingdom – observer, did a simple, brief but fantastic recommendation thus: “He can explain the complexities of cosmological physics with an engaging combination of clarity and wit… His is a brain of extraordinary power.”

Borrowing from this profoundly philosophical view of this intellectual icon of our time, I will like to adopt same in describing the intellectual and policy contributions of one of Nigeria’s scholarly legislators at the national level who is vastly learned in the area of constitutionalism with specific reference to the thematic concept of reforms of the Nigeria policing institution.

This senator is no other person than Dr Ike Ekweremadu who for eight years served as the deputy senate President and indeed headed the joint constitutional amendment panels of the national assembly.

That Description of Dr Stephen Hawking that I alluded to earlier on can be attributed to Ike Ekweremadu because of his intellectual prowess in the specific area of specialisation when it comes police reforms.

Dr Ike Ekweremadu , who also was once a law teacher at the University of Nigeria , law faculty at the Enugu city campus of this prestigious National higher institution of learning, has made profound contributions into the policy advocacy for the right kind of reforms to be done in the near moribund Nigerian police force. We will look at the Constitutional provisions on the Nigerian Police Force to see that there is the imperative of further amending those provisions to accommodate other strata of the policing institution for greater performance, productivity, expertise, effectiveness and efficiency. The Senator we just spoke about in the person of One Ekweremadu has made scholarly contributions that encapsulates this urgent need for the creation of a decentralised command and control structures of the policing architectures.

This piece is to comprehensively adopt his thoughts on police reforms and to stress that the National breakdown of law and order that was created by the mishandling of the protests by Nigerians against police brutality also known as #ENDSARS protests, In which there were massive ‘democratized’ vandalization and looting of public and private properties all across Nigeria and the Inexplicable absence of police operatives makes it imperative to demand that the National Assembly and executive council of the federation accept and adopt the deeply exciting suggestion for the creation of state police and the strengthening of the National police. It must be stated that this writer amongst few other policy analysts have written a lot of articles published in the popular media in the last two decades advocating the creation of state police.

Dr. Ike Ekweremmadu’s postulations should come in handy and this should be looked at critically if we truly want to retain some sense of internal security for all of Nigeria.

The former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to decentralise the police in order to end their impunity and other shortcomings.

He regretted that the Bill he sponsored to amend the constitution in order to create state police was rejected in the 8th Senate and not receiving attention by the current senate.

Reacting to the disbandment of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS) and proposed setting up of the Special Weapons and Tactical Team (SWAT), Ekweremadu, in a statement by his Media Adviser, Uche Anichukwu, said the Federal Government was still addressing the symptoms rather than the real illness.

He said he was not surprised by the series of protests against police brutality.

He said, “The problem with our policing and the attendant insecurity and excesses are engraved majorly in Section 214 (1) of the 1999 constitution, which provides that ‘There shall be a police force for Nigeria, which shall be known as the Nigeria Police Force, and subject to the provisions of this section, no other police force shall be established for the Federation or any part thereof’.

“It is also worsened by Section 215 (2), which goes further to declare that ‘The Nigeria Police Force shall be under the command of the Inspector-General of Police and contingents of the Nigeria Police Force stationed in a state shall, subject to the authority of the Inspector-General of Police, be under the command of the Commissioner of Police of that state.

“This informed my Bill for the Creation of State Police with adequate provisions in the mode of financing, control, and appointments of the high commands of such state police services to insulate them from any forms of abuse and give citizens roles in the various State Police Service Commissions.

“Unfortunately, this has not received the requisite political support, I call on the President and political stakeholders, once more, to seize the opportunity of the widespread demands for police reforms by Nigerians to do the right thing, addressing the structural challenges.”

Ekweremadu stated that Nigeria is the only federal state with a unitary police which had never worked anywhere.

He added, “It is not working here and it will never work. Therefore, whether we call it SARS or SWAT, we will only be addressing the symptoms instead of the diseases until we decentralise policing to allow citizens and the states take charge of the security of lives and properties of its people.”

Also, The immediate past deputy president of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, will soon reintroduce a bill for the creation of state police.

The Media Adviser to the Senator, Mr. Uche Anichukwu, stated this on Political Platform,a Raypower Radio programme, monitored in Abuja, Recently.

Anichukwu said although the Bill, which Ekweremadu sponsored along with about 74 other members of the Senate Committee on Constitution Review in the 8th National Assembly could not progress beyond the First reading, there have been calls for the Bill to be reintroduced in the 9th Assembly.

Anichukwu said, “The Senator has been receiving calls from across the country on the need to reintroduce the State Police Bill.

“I think the security realities in the country now are very clear and even among his colleagues, the popular opinion is that the Bill should be reintroduced immediately.

“As a matter of fact, I just spoke with the Distinguished Senator this morning and he said plans were underway to reintroduce the Bill along with his colleagues. It is an idea which time has come,” he said.

On how the Bill would address the concerns over funding, possible abuse, among others, Anichukwu explained the Bill would likely place funding for each State Police Service on the first line charge.

He also said that the funds could be channelled directly to them through the National Police Service Commission so as to make them financially independent of the state governors.

He said, “Regarding the worry that some states may not have the resources to pay state police personnel, it is important to note that it shall not be compulsory on any state to establish a State Police.

“Just as the case of state universities, those who have the resources can start, while others who can’t, will continue to rely on federal universities, in this case, Federal Police.

“First, the idea is to model the issue of policing after what we have in the National Judicial Council.

“The Federal Police will be responsible for the maintenance of public security, preservation of public order and security of persons and property throughout the federation.

“The Governor may give lawful directive to the Commissioner of Police with respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order as he may consider necessary.

“The Commissioner is also empowered by the Bill to request that matter be referred to the State Police Service Commission for review if he feels that the directive is unlawful or contradicts general policing standards or practice.

“In such circumstances, the decision of the State Police Service Commission shall be final and shall not be inquired into by any court.

“Again, a Governor cannot just wake and sack a Commissioner of Police of his or her State.

“The Commissioner shall only be removed by the Governor upon the recommendation of the National Police Service Commission praying that he be so removed on grounds of misconduct in the performance of his official duties, serious breach of policing standards, among others.”

Section 214. Establishment Of Nigeria Police Force

1) There shall be a police force for Nigeria, which shall be known as the Nigeria Police Force, and subject to the provisions of this section no other police force shall be established for the Federation or any part thereof.

2) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution

(a) the Nigeria Police Force shall be organised and administered in accordance with such provisions as may be prescribed by an act of the National Assembly;

(b) the members of the Nigeria Police shall have such powers and duties as maybe conferred upon them by law;

(c) the National Assembly may make provisions for branches of the Nigeria Police Force forming part of the armed forces of the Federation or for the protection of harbours, waterways, railways and air fields. As adumbrated by Senator Ike Ekweremadu, the Constitution needs to be reworked in a very fundamental way to bring into being State Police so the staffing and running of these binational policing structures are owned by the people of those specific areas and this will truly change the concept of policing and bring the operatives into harmonious relationship with the citizens. The extant constitution makes it look as if the police is only in existence to serve the interests of Mr. President in his hand the command and control reside. We will review those provisions of the Constitution shortly.

From the extant constitution, Section 215. Appointment Of Inspector-General And Control Of Nigeria Police Force; 1) There shall be –

(a) an Inspector-General of Police who, subject to section 216(2) of this Constitution shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Nigeria Police Council from among serving members of the Nigeria Police Force;

(b) a Commissioner of Police for each state of the Federation who shall be appointed by the Police Service Commission.

2) The Nigeria Police Force shall be under the command of the Inspector-General of Police and contingents of the Nigeria Police Force stationed in a state shall, subject to the authority of the Inspector-General of Police, be under the command of the Commissioner of Police of that state.

(3) The President or such other Minister of the Government of the Federation as he may authorise in that behalf may give to the Inspector-General of Police such lawful directions with respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order as he may consider necessary, and the Inspector-General of Police shall comply with those direction or cause them to be compiled with.

4) Subject to the provisions of this section, the Governor of a state or such Commissioner of the Government state as he may authorise in that behalf, may give to the Commissioner of Police of that state such lawful directions with respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order within the state as he may consider necessary, and the Commissioner of Police shall comply with those directions or cause them to be complied with: Provided that before carrying out any such directions under the foregoing provisions of this subsection the Commissioner of Police may request that the matter be referred to the President or such minister of the Government of the Federation as may be authorised in that behalf by the President for his directions.

5) The question whether any, and if so what, directions have been given under this section shall not be inquired into in any court.

Section 216. Delegation Of Powers To The Inspector-General And The Police

1) Subject to the provisions of this constitution, the Nigeria Police Council may, with the approval of the President and subject to such conditions as it may think fit, delegate any of the powers conferred upon it by this Constitution to any of its members or to the Inspector-General of Police or any other member of the Nigeria Police Force.

2) Before making any appointment to the office of the Inspector-General of Police or removing him from office the President shall consult the Nigeria Police Council.”

Looking at the ease with which looters and vandals massively invaded Warehouses and private properties of Nigerians in search of Covid-19 palliatives hoarded by State governors and the total collapse of law and order in the entire Country shows that Nigeria does not really have an effective professional policing institution just as these ‘Democratized lawlessness’ and the rule of mobsters that lasted 48 hours last week after the Peaceful protesters were attacked by hired goons and hoodlums, should tell us that after all the majority of those statistically claimed to be operatives of the NIGERIA Police could be GHOSTS and not real people. Otherwise, why did law and order collapsed for two whole days all across the Country and it took the interventions of the Nigerian Army to restore normalcy? We must do the right thing now to secure our Country and the surest way to do that is to set up State Police that will be composed of persons of distinguished and patriotic characters who truly love their community and will give everything to keep those communities safe for all.

*Emmanuel Onwubiko is the Head of HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and [email protected]; [email protected]; www.thenigerianinsidermews.com.

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