State Police Suitable For Nigeria But Governors Can Abuse It – Ex-President Jonathan

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Jonathan said this on Monday in his remarks during a national dialogue on state policing organised by the House of Representatives in Abuja.

Nigeria’s former president, Goodluck Jonathan, has expressed his backing for the establishment of the state police across the country, saying that there is no way internal security can be managed without states having their police.

Jonathan said this on Monday in his remarks during a national dialogue on state policing organised by the House of Representatives in Abuja.

The former President who noted that national dialogue on state policing was very critical said that Nigerians did not need to debate whether there should be state police or not.

According to Jonathan, under whose administration, a national conference was held where state policing was on the top priority, “That matter has been concluded. The issue is the operations of the police.”

Using his state, Bayelsa in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of the country as example, the former President said, “I operated at the state level as Deputy Governor and Governor for eight years. Then came to the centre as vice president and president for another eight years. 

“I know that in Bayelsa State and other states that attempted to have some elements of security operatives that assisted the police, it worked very well. 

“In Bayelsa State, when we took over, the state was almost ungovernable. When the elections were to be conducted in December 1999, the security situation in Bayelsa State was so bad that we couldn’t guarantee elections in December 1998, so our elections were pushed to January 1999.

“When we took over, the state was in crisis. Niger Delta agitation was there. Criminal elements were also operating all the creeks and were doing all kinds of havoc to market women until Alamieyeseigha set up the Bayelsa Volunteers that worked with the police. We built stations around the critical parts of the creeks. That brought the excessive piracy down. 

“There is no way we can manage our internal security if states will not have their police. The issue is not states having police, but how will the state police function vis-à-vis the national security architecture.”

He recalled that when he set up the 2014 national dialogue, there were many challenges as people were agitating but that one thing almost the whole 500 delegates agreed on was the issue of state police as they all supported the issue of state police.

“We cannot move away from state police. The issue of national border force was accepted. The issue of coast guard was also accepted.

“The national assembly, when you are debating or conducting hearings on state police, this issue of national border force must be considered. This issue must be integrated with the issue of state police. This will surely help our country.

“We are not going to debate and we should not waste our time debating whether we should have state police or not. We had operated it in this country. The military scrapped it because of abuse and that is the area we should concentrate on. 

“How do we manage the state police and it will not be abused by state political actors? If state political actors are abusing the state police, and are using the state police to harass and make life miserable for people who don’t belong to their political parties, will the commander-in-chief sit down and watch or will he order the military to go and overrun the state police? Of course, that will bring crisis in the country.

“The key areas we have to debate on is how to run state police vis-à-vis the national security architecture of the country, and these things need to be done carefully, because it is very critical.”

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