Nigeria Holds Dialogue On State Policing

Timothy Choji/Gloria Essien, Abuja

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The Nigerian government says it is developing strategies that will help address the challenges confronting the nation, especially those bordering on the security of lives and property.

President Bola Tinubu revealed this while declaring open a national dialogue on State Policing, organized by Nigeria’s House of Representatives.

President Bola Tinubu, who was represented by Vice President Kashim Shettima, was full of praise for Nigeria’s House of Representatives, for organizing the national dialogue, which had ‘Pathways to Peace; Reimagining Policing in Nigeria’ as its theme.

He said: “This dialogue has been convened under the auspices of our esteemed Speaker and members of the House of Representatives to address the crucial issue of State Policing. It underscores the commitment of the House to the security and well-being of our citizens.

“This initiative is not only timely but also speaks to the commitment of the legislative arm to addressing critical national issues through inclusive discussion and collaborative governance.”

Reforming the Nigeria Police

President Tinubu described as unwavering his administration’s resolve to reform the Nigeria Police and enhance security across Nigeria.

He observed that the idea of state policing is not just a mere policy proposal, but a potential milestone in the evolution of the nation’s law enforcement framework that would create the opportunity to fashion law enforcement in a manner that would closely address the various demands of communities across the country.

President Tinubu noted that his administration is much aware of the complex security issues confronting Nigeria, and as such is continually developing and refining its strategies and methods to address the challenges effectively.

“The commitment of the administration of President Tinubu to reform the police force and enhance security at both the national and state levels is unwavering.

“We view the outcomes of today’s deliberations as crucial inputs that will guide the government’s actions towards reforming the institution of the police and achieving a safer and more secure Nigeria,” the President’s representative stated.

He implored participants at the National Dialogue on State Policing to look at the idea of state policing from multiple angles, saying the President deserves commendation for being open and proactive towards the idea of reforming and decentralising the police force.

“In our deliberations, let us consider the implications of state policing from multiple perspectives. We must evaluate its potential to improve response times to emergencies, adapt to specific local challenges, and increase accountability. At the same time, we must address concerns related to the standardisation of training, oversight, and the safeguarding of civil liberties.

“Our Dialogue today should also be seen as an opportunity to listen, understand, and propose solutions that bridge gaps. It is essential that this forum is not the end but the beginning of an ongoing conversation on the issue of police and security sector reform in our country.

“Let us use this opportunity to engage and explore every option with the seriousness and diligence they demand. The President is committed to listening to your recommendations and insights, invaluable to shaping the policies that will lead us toward a more secure and just society,” the President stated.

In his remarks, Chairman of the occasion, former President Goodluck Jonathan, commended the organisers of the national dialogue, saying “The issue today is not whether to establish state police but how it should be operated. 

“There is no need to debate about state police.  The issues of state police and Coast Guards were accepted at the 2014 National Conference.”

The former President said the Nigeria Customs Service and other agencies at the border are not trained to deal with criminal gangs, even as he asked the government to concentrate on how to manage the state police in a way that it would not be hijacked by the political class.

He recommended that the Act establishing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should be rejigged so that the police are not used for election malpractices and stuffing of the ballot box in states.

In the same vein, former Head of State, retired Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, maintained that in order to make peace and ensure a safe society, governors must be transparent, responsible, and honest, as well as make the citizens go about their normal businesses.

He said the government should make laws to provide for an orderly environment, urging citizens to stop destroying or vandalizing public properties.

Abubakar also advised that traditional institution and royal fathers should be given roles to play and be engaged in maintaining peace and order in their respective domains.

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