Addressing the issues arising from the debate on state policing as solution to insecurity in Nigeria, SAN Femi Falana revealed a long covered secret: a southwest gov who had a killer squad headed by a police officer.
“Many citizens are opposed to the creation of state police for the fear that it may be used to haunt political opponents of some state governors,’ the right activist said during a speech at the University Ibadan on Monday.
“I know a state governor in the South-West who once had a killer squad headed by his Chief Security Officer, a police officer.
“One of the unarmed citizens mowed down by the illegal squad was a World Bank expert. All efforts to prosecute the suspects have been frustrated by the state government. The story is the same in a few other states in the country. To that extent the fear of the possible manipulation of state police is genuine.”
Falana said one of the arguments against the creation of state police was that governors would use them to hunt their political opponents.
But he insisted that state policing remains the solution to Nigeria’s insecurity problem.
“To avoid a situation whereby abuse of police powers is decentralized, any security service established by state governments should be democratically controlled. The service will be founded by the state governments and superintended by an independent state police council of five members. The members of the council should be accredited representatives of the state government, labour, women, youths and the business community.
“The service will police the state and see to the enforcement of all the laws enacted by the House of Assembly. The success of the civilian Joint Task Force in the counter-insurgency operations in Borno State has proved that the best way to police a country is to recruit, train and equip young men and women to operate in their own communities.
“The colonial practice of posting police personnel to operate outside their states or regions was meant to suppress and intimidate colonial subjects by strangers. It is a practice which has become counter-productive in a post-colonial state. Every police officer should operate in their community, speak the local language and mix freely with the people.”
The southwest governors recently launched a regional security body, Amotekun, which has fuelled the debate on the inability of the federal government to police the country alone.