The blunder in not having state police (1)

By Eric Teniola

The non inclusion of State Police in the Constitution was an error. It was a grave omission. The lapse occurred in 1976, forty-six years ago. No one could have imagined forty-six years ago that our security challenges would become so grave to this level, that we now live in perpetual fear at the mercy of terrorists, kidnappers, Boko Haram, ISWAP, political thugs, armed robbers and the rest.

Who could have imagined that our country will be so mismanaged like this, to the extent that we are experiencing depression and bewilderment of crippling fear like a nagging hound of hell pursuing our every footstep, certainly no one.

Instead of emotional lamentation, bewailing or grieving, if we really wanted State Police, we could have had it. No need crying over spilled milk. There is no use stressing out over things that have already happened.

But if we have really wanted State Police, that blunder should have been corrected by now. And perhaps our security apparatus would have improved.
For some of us who grew up in this country before independence and even during the first Republic, we experienced the services of regional police and local government native police called AKODA.

If you look at Section 106(4) of the 1963 Constitution, the establishment of regional police was recognized.

The Section states that “Subject to the provisions of subsection (3) of this section, the Commissioner of Police of a Region shall comply with the directions of the Premier of the Region or such other Minister of the Government of the Region as may be authorized in that behalf by the Premier with respect to the maintaining and securing of public safety and public order within the Region or cause them to be complied with:”

When we have issues like the creation of State Police, we have no choice than to trace how the Presidential Constitution was made with particular reference to the founding fathers no matter how often we make that reference.

They are the framers of our constitution. More so, when our Presidential Constitution did not pass through a referendum, plebiscite, initiative or mandate.

General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi MVO, MBE (3 March 1924 – 29 July 1966), the first Military Head of State of Nigeria, on assuming power on January 1, 1966, suspended the 1963 Constitution and with it, the Regional Police. General Ironsi promulgated the Constitution (Suspension and Modification Decree 1966), Decree 1 dated January 17, 1966 but not published in the official gazette until March 4, 1966. The decree pronounced the death of Regional Police.

Even in his speech at the Lugard Hall in Kaduna on April 19, 1967, at a meeting with Emirs and Chiefs, the then Military Governor of the Northern Region, Lt-Colonel Hassan Usman Katsina (31 March 1933 – 24 July 1995) emphasized that Regional Police and native authority had become a thing of the past.

He said on that day that “one of the main features of the Panel’s recommendations was a closer control of the native courts of the Government. The taking over of the native courts by the Government was in fact accepted in principle by the civilian Government and judging from some of the legislation it had passed since 1958 there is no doubt that it was working towards the goal” he declared.

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Throughout the tenure of General Yakubu Gowon (87) GCFR from 1966-1975, there was no mention on the need to create State Police. It was against this background that the Constitutional Drafting Committee was announced by the then Head of State in 1975, General Ramat Murtala Mohammed (8 November 1938 – 13 February 1976) on October 1, 1975 in his broadcast.

The committee was headed by Chief Frederick Rotimi Alade Williams, QC, SAN (16 December 1920 – 26 March 2005). The committee then established seven sub committees. The subcommittee on Public Services including the Armed forces and the Police was headed by Dr. Obi Wali (February 27, 1932-26 April, 1993).

Other members of the subcommittee were Alhaji Ahmed Talib, Colonel M. Pedro Martins, Dr. O. Idris, Mr. A. Makele, Alhaji Mamman Daura and Chief Ekanem-Ita.

Alhaji Ahmed Talib was the Chairman of New Nigerian Development Bank and the former deputy governor of Central Bank of Nigeria.

Chief Ekanem-Ita, who died on Thursday, 03 September, 2009, was a former Registrar and Secretary to Council of the University of Ibadan (1982 – 1994).

High Chief Ekanem-Ita attended the University College, Ibadan, from (1960 – 1963); Columbia University, New York, U.S.A.(1972-1973) and University of London Institute of Education, (1989). He obtained a B.A. (Hons) History (Ibadan), a Masters Degree (Columbia), a Certificate in University Administration (London) and was honoured with a Doctor of Literature degree by the University of Calabar.

High Chief Ekanem-Ita was a Government, a Rockefeller Foundation and a British Council Scholar. He joined the services of the University of Ibadan as a Graduate Assistant/Administrative Officer in 1963, was promoted Assistant/Senior Assistant Registrar (1968 -1975), became a Deputy/ Senior Deputy Registrar (1975- 1982) and was the Registrar and Secretary to Council, Senate, Congregation and Convocation from 1982 to 1994.

The late High Chief Ekanem-Ita was a member of the American Association for Higher Education, Washington; Association of Commonwealth Universities; International Association of World Universities and the International Committee of University Administrators.

He was a member of the FG/NUC Panels on University Administration Review; a Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Governing Councils of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka (1997-2000) and Cross River State University of Technology (2000 – 2003). Some other national assignments included membership of the Constitution Drafting Committee (1975-76); and membership of the Visitation Panel to Rivers State University of Science and Technology (1995-1996 and 2005-2006).

A traditional title holder, late High Chief Ekanem-Ita was the Ada-idaha-ke-Eburutu; Etonwed Efik Eburutu; Mkpisong Ukara Ekondo Efik; Ikpamfum Calabar and Ntufam of Qua Nation, Calabar. High Chief Ekanem-Ita who was nick-named ‘Registrar Emeritus’, held the record of being the longest serving Registrar in any Nigerian University, a position he held for twelve years!

To be continued next edition

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