By Paul Michael, Defence Editor
- Says State Policing imperative
Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), has said State Governors through security votes, fund the security operations better than the Federal Government. Noting that while it is the primary responsibility of FG to fund security operatives, the States pay allowances, buy ammunition, vehicles, and fund security operatives whenever they are taken away from their primary responsibility.
The Governor stated this on Thursday during a panel discussion on the overview of the security situation across the states at a two-day multi-stakeholders meeting on Peace and Inclusive Security Initiative organized by the NGF in partnership with the Center for Democracy & Development (CDD).
He explained further that if the military is to be engaged to aid civil authority, a situation he said is visible in the 36 States, then the Governors are responsible for providing funds for that extra responsibility. He added that fulfilling that responsibility most times is not is extremely difficult.
“There is hardly any of these institutions that you are talking about that we don’t fund. We fund the Police more than the Federal Government, quote me.
“State Governors fund Police more than the federal government. We buy them vehicles and we pay them allowances. In some cases, we even buy ammunitions, of course under the same federal system.
“And if we are to engage our military in aid to civil authority, which you will find, actually in 36 states in this country today, the military is involved in internal security operations, which really is a problem. Now, when you inflate the role of the security institution beyond its primary responsibility, you also have consequences that will come with that. That may not be palatable. But that’s where we are, because most Nigerians don’t trust the police, The Trumpet gathered.
“They will still come and beg governor, ‘Governor, please, can you ask the brigade commander to put a roadblock in my area.’ And this, right from the bottom up you are talking about, ordinary citizens insist that we should fund and you can’t put military roadblocks everywhere,” The Governor explained while being cheered by a crowd.
Regarding the funding of the Military, Dr Fayemi said, “But if you engage the military in a civil authority, your state is only responsible if you are to pay for the number of men engaged.
“You’ve taken them out of their primary responsibility, you have to pay for it. So, we pay for that, we pay for Civil Defence, there is no security institution that you have that states are not responsible for more than the federal government that has primary responsibility for them.”
Speaking on the importance of State Police, the Chairman of the NGF said the issue is a constitutional one. Adding that the insinuation that local actors will abuse the state policing system is not enough to stop its creation.
“This is a perennial excuse that we get. I’m not going to sit here and make an excuse that such powers in the hands of some local actors may not be abused. The federal police that we all know abuses the rights of citizens, including the rights of governors, even with immunity, you may not know that. I was abused by federal police in 2014, during my election and I had immunity.
“Anybody could be abused. It could happen, even if you devolve security to the local level. However, what we need to be talking about is what institutional frameworks should we put in place to ensure that such powers are not abused, not to use it as an excuse not to do the right thing. Because at the end of the day, there are mechanisms in our constitution to protect citizens’ rights,” he argued.
In addition, the Ekiti State governor pointed out that the National Police Council does not operate maximally as the National Judicial Council, explaining that so far, the Police Council which include the President and 36 State Governors only meet to approve the appointment of the Inspector General of Police, already appointed by the President.
Fayemi said, “In relation to the Police, we have a body in the Constitution, a statutory body known as the National Police Council. The National Police Council is presided over by the president as chairman and he has over 36 governors as members.
“Unfortunately, unlike the National Judicial Council, which is very effective in meting out punishments, sanctions, promotions, appointments for judicial officers across the length and breadth of the country, the National Police Council has only succeeded since the 1999 constitution to ratify the appointment of Inspector General of Police.
“We are only summoned to National Police Council and this is a constitutional body by the way, check your constitution you find it there. It only meets when a new or acting Inspector General of Police is to be confirmed and ratified.
“That meeting is summoned and it meets for 10 or 30 minutes and then we look at the CV of the acting IG, and we approve. You’re not expected to disapprove anyway; the president has already appointed him. But that body actually has powers beyond that.”
The Ekiti State Governor noted that in most countries where there is multi-level policing, there is a regulatory authority that is responsible for punishment and for sanctioning those who go beyond their own responsibilities.
“And I think that’s what we should be talking about. Rather than talking about the possibility of abuse, there would always be possibility of abuse; we can’t run away from that. But do we have effective policing now that is federal?
“I said multi-level policing; which means local police, state police and federal police and arguing for multi-level policing does not suggest that we want the federal police to go because there are federal crimes.
“There are also crimes that are within the borders of our states in accordance with the statute that’s been promulgated or enacted by our local state assemblies. And some crimes are local, because they are local jurisdictions by local governments.
“If you have not paid tenement rate, the local police should deal with you, it shouldn’t be state police, because tenement rate is the responsibility of the local authority, not the responsibility of the state. So that’s my take on that,” the Governor explained.
While addressing the involvement of Local Government in security, Fayemi said he has no objection to local authority playing a role in local security. He, however, expressed a divergent view on Local Government Autonomy.
“But the debate about local government autonomy is a different debate. The principle of federalism is very clear about federating units. Local government as a federating unit is a unique innovation in Nigeria. I don’t see it in any research work, in any book on federalism. Local government autonomy is the business of the state because the state is the federating unit.
“So, those who are clamouring for local government autonomy, it is a populist demand and is very exciting to talk about it. But I don’t think ultimately it serves the purpose that they want it to serve because we have capacity challenges at that level just as we have at the state level. But the result is what matters,” Fayemi said.
Regarding the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) under the grips of Governors, he said, “Again, it’s a popular discussion, but I will tell you it is a surreptitious way of undermining Nigeria’s federalism.”