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IG warns of govs’ excesses as FG insists on state police

The Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, has voiced opposition to the proposal for state police, cautioning against potential abuse by governors for political or personal interests, which could compromise human rights and national security. Egbetokun made this assertion during the national dialogue on state policing organized by the House of Representatives in Abuja, under the theme, ‘Pathways to Peace: Reimagining Policing in Nigeria.’

Despite the IG’s reservations, the Federal Government remains resolute in pursuing the initiative. Vice President Kashim Shettima, representing President Bola Tinubu, reiterated the administration’s commitment to establishing state police nationwide. This initiative emerged from a consensus between Tinubu and state governors during an emergency meeting with the President at the Aso Rock Villa in February.

Several state governors have expressed support for state police by submitting reports to the National Economic Council. Additionally, the House of Representatives passed a bill for the establishment of state police for a second reading on February 20, 2024.

Represented by Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Ben Okolo, at the security summit, the IG called for alternative solutions to the challenges facing the Nigeria Police Force, suggesting that instead of state police, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and Federal Road Safety Commission should operate under a department within the Nigerian police.

In response, Vice President Shettima emphasized the government’s awareness of the country’s security challenges and its commitment to adaptive reforms. He urged a comprehensive consideration of the implications of state policing, including its potential benefits and risks, such as response times, local challenges, accountability, and civil liberties.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan expressed support for state police, emphasizing the need to focus on operational frameworks to prevent abuse by state political actors. He also advocated for a review of INEC’s operations to curb electoral malpractices.

The event witnessed a mild moment of humor when AIG Okolo mistakenly addressed the Vice President as “GSM,” eliciting laughter from participants. However, Vice President Shettima commended Okolo for his courage in correcting the mistake.

Other notable attendees at the dialogue included Deputy Senate President Barau Jibrin, Minister of Police Affairs Ibrahim Gaidam, and Sultan of Sokoto Sa’ad Abubakar III.

States such as Kebbi and Ekiti expressed readiness for state policing, while Gombe State NSCDC rejected the proposal to merge the NSCDC with the police, citing the clarity of the Oransaye Report on the matter.

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