…Says ‘Commercial kidnapping’ started in 2006, in Niger Delta


By Tayo Abiola


The Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, is not in tune with the establishment of state police in the country but the former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan argues in support.

On Monday, Egbetokun speaking through an Assistant Inspector-General Police, Ben Okolo, at a national dialogue on state police organised by the House of Representatives in Abuja, with the theme: ‘Pathways to Peace: Reimagining Policing in Nigeria’, said Nigeria is not ready for a decentralised police force.

He said, “It is the submission of the leadership of the Nigeria police force that Nigeria is yet to mature for the establishment of state-controlled police.”

The IGP listed some of the challenges as inadequate manpower, inadequate operational equipment such as vehicles, arms and ammunition, communication equipment, drones, aerial surveillance cameras, security surveillance helicopters, armoured vehicles, and inadequate training of personnel.

He added that state police would create a conflict of jurisdiction and open to abuse by state governors.

Egbetokun advised that Nigeria should rather merge the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) to form a department in the Police Force.

He also called for an increase in the budgetary allocation to the police while asking for  a yearly recruitment of about 30,000 police personnel into the Force annually to meet the UN requirements for modern policing.

However, ex-President Jonathan, on the other hand, stated that with the spate of kidnappings, the issue of state police is non-negotiable.

“So the National Assembly needs to look into all these. These are the areas that we have to concentrate. The issue of the need for states to have their own police is not negotiable. There is no way we can continue this kidnapping that is going on in this country.

Jonathan, however, added that for state police to be implemented, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must be rejigged.

“So if we are talking about state police, we must also rejig INEC, and the police must not be used against or to the advantage of any political party.

“The issue of voting, the polling booths of INEC, and the use of police during elections has to be reviewed by the National Assembly,” Jonathan added.

Jonathan who traced the history of ‘commercial kidnapping’ stated that the crime started in 2006 in Niger Delta, when he was the governor of Bayelsa State.

“Commercial kidnapping started around 2006, when I was governor. But it started in the Niger Delta. Now it is all over the country.

“The only thing that can help us if we cannot stop it completely at least we reduce it to the barest minimum is for states to have their police.

“I was a governor. I operated at the state level for eight years, deputy governor and governor and getting to the centre, vice president and president for another eight years. I know that in Bayelsa and other states they have some element of security operatives, that assisted the police to work very well.

“In Bayelsa State when we took over the state was almost ungovernable. Abdulsalami would remember that when elections were to be conducted in December 1998, the security situation was so bad so the elections were pushed to January 99.

“When we took over, the state was in crisis. Niger Delta agitation was there. The criminal elements were also operating in the creeks and they are causing issues for market women and others until Alamesiegha then the governor, set up the Bayelsa volunteers that worked with the police.

“We built stations around parts of the creeks and the boys volunteered to work with the police and that brought the situation down.

“So, there is no way we can manage internal security if states would not have their police.

“But how would the state police function visavis the national security architecture?

“When I set up the 2014 national dialogue, during that period we had lots of challenges in the country. People were agitating so many areas; but one thing that the almost 500 agreed without much ado was the issue of state police. When that issue came up everyone supported the issue of state police, so we cannot move away from state police.

“The issue of state police was accepted, the issue of national border force was also accepted and the issue of coast guard was also accepted. The national assembly while they were debating on conducting the public hearing on state police, these issues of national borders force must be considered.

“Yes the immigration and customs carry out border controls but they cannot play the role of national borders force. When we have the national border force, that we would be able to contain these enemies.

“Also the customs and immigrants they also carry weapons but they may not have been sufficiently to confront these criminals.

“I was in the customs for two years before I entered the university what was given to us was not enough to confront the criminals. So, these issues must be integrated with the issue of state police.

“Could the state police also for the riverine areas like the Niger Delta also play that role of coast guards? Could the ones in the boundary areas play the role of the national border force?

“This would surely help the country. We are not going to waste our time debating whether we should have state police or not.”

There have been renewed calls for the establishment of state police following an increase in kidnappings, banditry, and violent attacks across the country.

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