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Who is afraid of state policing?

Our Weekend Politics Editor,Okechukwu Jombo, writes on how the Senate waded into the security situation in the country and wants to know who is afraid of state policing as propagated by the legislators.
The issue of state police has been in the front burner lately. It became more serious as the Senate resolved to direct its constitutional review committee to put in place a machinery to amend the constitution and allow for the creation of state police.
So many fora also insisted that it is the way out of the security problem that the country is having.Groups such as Afenifere and Ohaneze have insisted severally that it is the only solution.
Even the Senate while taking the decision had called on security agencies to stop their involvement in politics.
Before these resolutions were taken, senators were in heated arguments over the security situation, as most of them contributed to a point of order raised by SenatorJonah Jang (PDP, Plateau North).
Senator Jang had led a debate on the killings across the nation and in Plateau State, just as he called on the federal government to take proactive measures to prevent a re-occurrence.
He also appreciated the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and the leadership of the Senate for their visit to the state, as well as their support for displaced victims.
Among the many contributors was Isa Misau (APC, Bauchi Central) who blamed the happenings on security agencies, as well as the executive arm.
Misau expressed disappointment at President Muhammadu Buhari for his continuous refusal to sack “incompetent people” in authoritative positions.
He also said the president is paying more attention to corruption than injustice.
“The solution is on the table of the president. Since he has admitted that there are incompetent people in power, he should remove them and if he won’t, he should tell us why they are still maintaining their seats,” he said.
He mocked the federal government for deploying troops to the Eagle Square during the APC convention and “ignored” areas that needed security the most.
“They said we are against government, we will continue to talk until the right thing is done,” he added.
On his part, Kabiru Marafa (APC, Zamfara) expressed disappointment at Nigerians who judge the killings based on religion.
He said religious leaders who are giving the killings a religious colouration are hypocrites.
“Plateau State is predominantly a Christian state so if people are killed in Plateau, Christians will be killed. But we sit down and say ‘Christians are being eliminated’, ‘it is genocide’ and so on. This is hypocrisy! We ought to give this thing the name it deserves.
“There are killings in Zamfara and those arrested are not all foreigners or Fulanis. I make bold to say that the killings in Plateau State are happening in conjunction with indigenes of that state because it is a business. But every day, we either give it an ethnic or religious colouration without minding the fact that these things are being done and we are the losers.
“Christian and Muslim clerics that are giving these killings a religious colouration are all hypocrites because we all know where they belong to. It is not limited to one religion, but at the end of the day, the problem remains,” he said.
He said what is happening in Nigeria today is a serious business and those behind it need to be fished out. He also suggested that the Senate invokes a penalty for those found guilty.
Reacting to the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu’s call for state police, Marafa said “now that these things are stepping up, suddenly, we are bringing the issue of creating state police. I have never heard that a chief executive of a state gave the commissioner of police of that state or military head an instruction and he disobeyed.
“This only reinforces my belief that these things are being invented by some people so that they can have their constitutional amendment to have state police. Their intents do not serve the interest of our people.This is a grand agenda by you people (lawmakers) that want state police.”
His last statement was followed by noise and rowdiness as lawmakers protested and asked him to withdraw his statement.
It took a little while for Saraki to calm the raging lawmakers and call Marafa to order.
Ekweremadu, thereafter, raised a point of order as he tried to caution his colleague (Marafa) and demand that he withdraws his statement.
“There are certain things we say here that we may not understand the implication. Senator Marafa is saying that those who are pushing for state police are the ones behind the killings so that they can have their way.
“Our rules say no one should input improper motive to any other senator. I am saying this because I don’t want to go out of this place and somebody will arrest me that I sponsored the killings. He has to withdraw that statement,” he said.
Marafa then withdrew his comment and called for the legalisation of gun control.
“My point is people cannot be slaughtered in their houses helplessly. Maybe what we need to do is to liberalise gun control. Let everybody own a gun so that when you are coming to my house, you will know that I have my own gun while you are coming with yours.
“The only advantage these people killing others have is because they are carrying a gun. He also called for the imposition of a state of emergency where there are killings,” he said.
Again, the lawmakers began to argue loudly.
The Senate president, thereafter, condemned the killings in totality whether they were initial acts of aggression or reprisal attacks.
He also explained that these are acts of criminality that should not be encouraged by anyone.
He disclosed that the leadership of the National Assembly has spoken on many platforms and made suggestions to the executive that there is the need for an urgent review of the security architecture of the nation.
“The debate in the British House of Lords also raises this point: “How do we think this would affect our economy and investments if we continue to have this kind of security climate? We must see this issue of insecurity not only from the point of view that there is danger and insecurity, but there is also a danger to our economy, especially if we want to grow our economy.
“We as the Senate must come up with our own actions. We do not need to flog the issue. We have told the executive what to do. We have told them privately and we have told them publicly. However, on our own part, we must decide on what we need to do. Let us play our own part to address the issues that we have control over,” he said.
Other resolutions made by the Senate are to “condemn the terrorist attacks, mass killings and displacement of people and occupation of their central homes and farmlands.
“Urge the executive to overhaul the security architecture of the country and to put in place a better security action plan and decisively tackle violent terror attacks threatening the continuous existence of communities in the North-Central geopolitical zone and indeed Nigeria and;
“Urge the executive arm of government to undertake the rehabilitation of displaced persons and reconstruction of communities in Plateau North, South and Central Senatorial Districts so they can return to their homes and farmlands.”
It also resolved to urge the executive to apprehend and persecute all perpetrators and sponsors of violence no matter how highly placed they are.
Also included was to “fast-track the passage of the Peace and Reconciliation Bill”, as well as “mandate that the Peace and Reconciliation Bill, Police Reform Bill be passed within the next two weeks and (that) the constitution review committee, within the next two weeks, should bring forward the amendment for State and Community Policing.”
Later, Saraki called for collaboration of the 36 States’ Assembly in the amendment of the 1999 Constitution to provide for state and community policing.
Saraki said this when the 36 States House of Assembly Speakers, led by its Chairman and Speaker of the Gombe State House of Assembly, Abdulmumin Ismaila Kamba, paid a thank you visit to the leadership of the Senate for passing abill which granted financial autonomy to State Legislatures.The president of the Senate, according to a statement by his Special Assistant on Print Media, Chuks Okocha, stated that state and community policing in the country has become imperative due to rising security challenges.
“You are all aware of the challenges that we are currently facing in this country, particularly that of insecurity. There is no doubt that the security architecture of this country presently cannot meet the demands and challenges before it.
“One of the decisions we took today is to address the issue of state and community policing. In doing that, we gave our Constitution Amendment Committee two weeks to bring to the floor a Bill on State and Community Policing. The House of Representatives is also working along similar lines. We will send it to the States’ Assembly to seek your support. We believe
that no responsible country or society can continue to watch helplessly as our people are being killed.
“We must appeal to our people that we must live in peace and harmony and
we must be able to resolve our issues peacefully. As speakers, I urge you to play your part,” he stated.
From the forgoing, one doesn’t need anybody to tell him that state policing is the way to go even though some persons for reasons best known to them are against it.

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