Nigeria can no longer afford to play ostrich in the area of policing and introduction to state police. Though, a lot of arguments have been posited on the need to jettison the project and many are against it ,due to its inherent abuse. But, as it stands the merits of states having their own police weighs far higher than the state not having any.
In this line with his thinking, the present governor of Lagos State, Akinwumi Ambode has taken the bull by the horn literally by the introduction and inauguration of Lagos State Neighbourhood safety Corps. This is a form of policing that doesn’t bear arms and hasn’t been mandated to arrest.
According to online reports by Venture Africa states that ” Lagos Neighbourhoodbourhood Safety Corps (LSNC) are well trained in seeking “peaceful resolution of conflicts, proactive policing engagement as against reactive policing, dispute mediation, skillful negotiations and other skills that would assist in curbing crime and nipping in the bud the activities of criminally-minded individuals.”
The present burden on the federal police is colossal. Nigeria as a country is grossly under policed and have a deficiency in the area of crime watch. Nigeria has the ratio of 1: 600 in normal cities whereas in areas like Gwoza and Maiduguri it is around 1:700. This means that it is stated that a policeman guards and watches over 600 citizens. While countries like Kenya is doing better. Kenya has surpassed the United Nations recommended police to civilians. Knowns as the Cops per Capita.The more the cops, the safer: that’s what conventional wisdom says.
According to Wikipedia, “In 2006, an analysis by the United Nationsindicates an approximate median of 300 policeofficers per 100,000 inhabitants. Only nine countries disclosed values lower than 100 officers per 100,000 inhabitants. The highest median of police officers – around 400 – was observed in West Asia, Eastern and Southern Europe.”
With the introduction of the LSNSC by Ambode, Lagos state has demonstrated that it has the capacity to bridge the gap. With the restructuring in the lips of many Nigeria today. This move has been said to be the future of Nigerian policing . States would develop, raise and find their own police . This would bring a better efficiency in crime management and prevention . In line with the tenets of community policing, the cops/corps would be the members of the community, understand the language and nuances of the areas of primary assignments ,thereby bringing up the best crime prevention strategy.
Though some stakeholders has posited that Nigeria isn’t yet ripe for state police citing abuse. In the words of Mr. T.C. Ezeiro, a legal practitioner in Ikeja “the agitation for state police was informed by Governors who want more powers for political needs. He says state police are prone to abuse as the police personnel will be employed to ensure that political opponents are suppressed through oppressive, indiscriminate and clandanstine use of powers of arrest and prosecution.”
Though, Creation of state police might raise constitutional implications. Sections 214 and215 of the 1999 consititution which harps on the establishment of the Nigeria Police Force ,appointment of the Inspector General of the Police and control of the force.
In the words of Afolabi Olayiwola, Constitutional lawyer and Notary Public. He made this known to Vanguard Newspaper that
“THE creation of State Police is long overdue in this country, so I am in total support for its creation. State Police apart from complementing the Federal Police in area of crime detection, will contribute to effective community policing, thus assisting in crime fighting and reduction. We are already practising State Police with the Sharia Police in the North, LASMA officials in Lagos and even the traffic police wardens that effectively control traffic on our roads. Again, the fact that we have state police will not anyway abolish the Federal Police. The Constitution will spell out the duties of each police system and their limitations”
Irrespective of the inherent Constitution complexities involved, Ambode has created and employed an estimate of 7000 people in this scheme and we can have a good night rest with both eyes closed.
Anthony Emeka Nwosu