Military and security experts, in Ibadan on Wednesday, urged the Federal Government to support the establishment of state police to rapidly bring the current wave of banditry, kidnappings, terrorism and other violent crimes across the country to an end.
They also canvassed adequate training, reorientation, equipping and motivation of the Nigerian police to enable it secure the civil populace and assets.
While military involvement could sometimes be necessary, especially in crisis situation, it should not become institutional and routine as it is now because of attendant shortcomings and negative effects on the public, they advised.
Among those who spoke at a workshop on safety and security in Yorubaland were the Chairman, Oyo State Security Network, codenamed Amotekun Corps, Brigadier General Kunle Togun (Retd); Rear Admiral Leye Jaiyeola (Retd) and Dr. Module Albert.
The talkshop, organised by the Yoruba Leadership and Peace Initiative (TYLPI) to address the current insecurity siege especially in the region, held at the Emerald Hall, Lead City University, Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
General Togun and Admiral Jaiyeola criticised the Federal Government dithering if not opposition to agitation for states to have their own police to effectively tackle crimes and insecurity in their respective jurisdiction.
Togun observed that the overwhelming security challenges were beyond what the federal police structure could handle, regretting what he described as the many obstacles government erected to frustrate moves by states in the South West to set up Amotekun to protect lives and property in the geopolitical zone.
Describing Nigeria’s federalism as an aberration, he said, states in the United States of America where the country borrowed its constitution, have their own police and laws distinct from the federal, insisting that there was no reason Nigeria’s case should be different especially in view of the current dire realities.
He remarked that the regional security agencies in the respective South West states were doing their best to contain the menace of kidnappers, bandits and other hues of criminals, but handicapped by lack of prosecutoral powers, inadequate weaponry and legal constraints which limited their operation to arrest and investigation.
Jaiyeola, on his part, reasoned that the Federal Government would have to drop its apparent disinterest and back constitutional provision for urgent inclusion of state police in the nation’s security architecture.
He said the invitation and involvement of the Armed Forces in civil operations, though provided for in the constitution, was not ideal , especially if it was prolonged or became routine as currently being witnessed in Nigeria.
Aside attendant cases and charges of excessive use of force, high-handedness, torture, and impunity, deployment of the soldiers had also always attracted controversies with rife cases of alleged corruption and extortion of the civilian population and commuters especially at military checkpoints.
The former Navy boss said all these were inevitable in military-civil engagement or interaction due to the different nature and orientation of the military, saying, “we should be prepared for this kind of thing if we want to involve them in internal security operations.”
Better still, he said, their intervention should be swift and temporary as they were not suited for the role on a permanent basis and could only compound the woes of the civil population, it not being their primary responsibility and role.
Consequently, Admiral Jaiyeola called for the strengthening and empowerment of the police which, he noted, had responsibility for internal security to discharge the mandate.
He asked government to swiftly set machinery in motion to pass state policing system into law.
He also stressed the need to train, motivate and adequately equip the personnel for effective discharge of their roles.
TYLPI President, Mr. Olusegun K Ahmadu, said the workshop was to evolve effective strategies and sensitise stakeholders on ideas to tackle the troubling insecurity in Yorubaland.
The event was attended by dignitaries and stakeholders including broadcast media moguls, Otunba Giwa Deji Osibogun and Deacon Owolabi Oladejo; Chief Alafe-Aluko; former Editor and Director of Publications, Nigerian Tribune, Folu Olamiti; former Editor, Sunday Times, Mr. Tunde Ipinmisho; Agbaakin Adeyemi and representatives of Yoruba groups.