A human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Femi Falana, has said that the National Assembly should put in place certain conditions that will ensure the success of the state police system, when it becomes operational.
Falana, who backed the ongoing efforts by the National Assembly on the issue, said that the lawmakers should thread with caution in handling the matter so that it would not eventually become problematic.
The activist, who has been in the forefront of the agitation for the establishment of state police since 1999, urged the lawmakers to ensure well laid down guidelines were put in place to protect the proposed state police system against abuse in the country.
He said, “So when you are talking of passing law for state police, you have to think about it very well. What are the fears? The fears are that state governors are likely to use the police to harass their opponents. Right now, some governors are using the Federal Police and the Army to demolish the houses of citizens in their states.
“I talk of Kaduna State in particular, where Gov el-Rufai has used the Army and the Police to demolish the house of a serving senator. If you then give state police without conditionality to such a government, we are going to run into greater problem than we are currently experiencing.
“Secondly, state governments that cannot pay civil servants cannot maintain state police. If you have to leave young men and women armed without salaries, like we saw in Maiduguri recently where Federal police were not paid and they went to the streets, there will be problem. And you know what that means if Police in 36 states go on the streets, we are going to be in problem.
“If we want to have state police, you must ensure that salaries and allowances are deducted from source in Abuja. You must have state police council or state police service commission peopled by accredited representatives of organisations of the people nominated by their organisations; not just appointed by the government . The members of the body will appoint their chairman. It has happened in Ghana. What the state government will just do is to fund adequately and the only way to do this is to ensure that the fund will be deducted from Abuja and kept in one account.
“We have been in this struggle since 1999. Why the National Assembly is now waking up, with profound respect to the concerned members, I mean the new converts, was the recent happenings. We have made the point abundantly clear since 2014 at the national conference that the limited success achieved in the fight against Boko Haram was made possible by the local community, the Civilian JTF.”
Falana also called for the amendment of Section 308 of the constitution, which gives immunity to governors and the president, to ensure that if they use the police to perpetrate any crime , they will not go unpunished.
“We have always advocated that immunity given to public officers concerning criminal offences should be removed and it is in the interest of everybody in the society. I will support the amendment of section 308 to check abuse of power, not only the misuse of state police, but abuse of power generally,” he said.