Faced with spiralling security challenges, the Federal Government and state governors are considering the creation of state police.

Some of the security challeges faced by the country include terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, communal clashes, oil theft, piracy, drug and human trafficking, illegal unregulated and unreported fishing, and cyber crimes, among others.

State policing is a proposition much rebuffed, especially by the central government over the years, because it was viewed by some, as having the potential to fragment authority and give verve to division, in a nation perceived to have marked political, ethnic, religious and other fissures that could create problems if not carefully managed.

The consideration of adopting state policing was however thrown up in deliberations between President Bola Tinubu and state governors at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Thursday.

Briefing journalists after the meeting, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, explained that the process is still in its infancy and would only take shape after more deliberations between stakeholders.

“Of course, this is still going to be further discussed. A lot of work has to be done in that direction. Both the Federal Government and the state governments agree on the necessity of having state police. Now, this is a significant shift. But as I said, more work needs to be done in that direction,” Idris said.

There have been clamour for state police as Nigeria grapples with worsening security challenges.

Governors elected on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) had on Monday restated their position on state policing as the solution to the country’s worsening security situation, lamenting that Nigeria is “almost on the road to Venezuela”.

Also, regional socio-political groups such as Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Middle Belt Forum, and the Northern Elders’ Forum, have repeatedly called for state police as solution to the myriad of increasing security challenges confronting the nation.

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Already, states in the South-West geopolitical zone have formed the Amotekun while their counterparts in the South-East also created state-owned security outfit, Ebube Agu. The Benue Guards has also been operational in Benue State in the North Central, while states like Katsina, Zamfara and other bandit-prone sub-nationals have also come up with similar state-established outfits.

However, these outfits have not been as effective as desired, as they do not have much backing of the Federal Government by law or logistics.

The fact that the Nigeria Police Force is under the command of the Inspector-General of Police, an appointee of the President of the Federal Republic, means that all Commissioners of Police report directly to him, and have limited powers or authority to make on-the-spot or far reaching decisions and in maintaining and securing public safety and order.

This is a constitutional matter, which must be expressly addressed in order to decentralise the Police Force.

Also of constitutional significance are matters such as purchase of firearms, ammunition, explosives, banking, financial crimes, fingerprinting, identification and criminal records, all of which are on the Exclusive Legislative list in the 1999 Constitution (as amended). These matters should be put on the concurrent list to give states necessary and relevant powers to enable them prevent, investigate and prosecute such crimes independent of Federal Police.

This would give the Federal Police the opportunity to concentrate on Federal crimes, which would have by then been clearly determined such as, interstate, cross-border crimes and national security issues.

That said, strengthening the police to cope with current insecurity in the country requires optimal professionalism. The need for up-to-date technological and scientific expertise, robust and comprehensive criminal justice training, especially in areas like psychology, forensic investigation, report writing, handwriting analysis, voice analysis, the purchase of hi-tech equipment, interrogation, negotiation, fingerprinting analysis, study of bomb composition and disposal and cybercrime, among others, would have to be effectively addressed.

Also, for state policing to deliver more good than harm, the system will have to be reinforced and closely monitored against the encroachment or overflow of primordial sentiments, including petty politics as well as divisive ethnic, religious and other sentiments, which could create distortions and eventually subvert the project.