By Rafiu Ajakaye
LAGOS, Nigeria (AA) - Nigeria’s vice president on Thursday said allowing individual states to own and manage separate police forces is crucial for resolving security threats in the country, including the deadly herders-farmers violence.
Hundreds have died this year alone as hostilities between herdsmen and farmers intensified, with central police authorities facing allegations of bias. The police in turn blamed politicians and discriminatory laws for the crisis.
“We cannot police a country the size of Nigeria centrally from [the capital] Abuja. State police and other community policing methods are clearly the way to go,” Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said at a security summit called by the parliament to address the unabated violence majorly in central Nigeria.
“The nature of our security challenges are complex. Securing Nigeria’s over 920,000 square kilometers (approx. 355,000 square miles) and its 180 million people requires far more men and materials than we have at the moment. It also requires a continuous re-engineering of our security architecture and strategies. This has to be a dynamic process,” he added.
Osinbajo’s comment marked the first time a top government official was openly backing state police. It came two weeks after a panel of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) recommended decentralization of the policing system, among other measures, in a bid to restructure the country's political system.
Calls for state police have been made in the past years but the government often dismissed it as dangerous or impractical for a heterogeneous country like Nigeria where powerful governors and other stakeholders allegedly manipulate state machineries.
Experts say decentralizing the police would require constitutional amendments. Presently, Nigeria follows a national policing system it inherited from the British colonialists.