Foundation for Environmental Rights Advocacy and Development, FENRAD, a pro-democracy and human rights advocacy group received with displeasure the news on the recent release from the Nigeria Police issuing an order to all state commands within the five states in Southeast geopolitical zone and Rivers State in the South-south to withdraw all police units and formations attached to governors, senators and other politcally-exposed persons within the said regions – Southeast and South-south.
While FENRAD totally condemns in its entirety the recent attacks on security agencies in the Southeast region, mostly on the police, by unknown and yet-to-be identified gunmen, the Foundation does not think it was appropriate or in national interest for the police to issue such an order at a time when all the geopolitical zones are facing security threat including the FCT, northern and Middle Belt states where governors like Babagana Zulum, Samuel Ortom and others had been targeted by gunmen.
FENRAD wishes to expressly state that though it is happening in the Southeast, attack against law enforcement agencies – especially that on the police – is not only relative to the Southeast. Police and military formations had been attacked in the past and are still being attacked presently in other parts of the nation; so was it a strategic or merely retaliatory move on the part of the Nigeria Police to withdraw its personnel on essential guard duty for the said governors and senators who by constitutional provisions of the land have no iota of control over state security command, let alone national security? What, given the present security structure of Nigeria, did the police expect the governors and senators to do when they – the governors and senators – are not the Commander-in-chief in whom the entrustment of national security solely lies?
This draconian decree of the police lends credence to the fact that the Nigerian police is scatteringly treating a serious issue as national security in isolation. So sad it is, that such an order followed from a resolve of the Federal Executive Council meeting, as some sources claimed, FENRAD says. Given what has panned and played out across the length and breadth of the nation lately, national security requires a holistic approach rather than being given an ethnic or regional colour in handling.
This order, having been issued, reinforces the debate for state and community policing and total restructuring of the national security architecture on the basis of true federalism which allows the governors some level of control in both the security and internal affairs of their states legitimately as “chief security officers.” The police, adopting this operational style shows that policing should no longer be an item in the exclusive legislative list, seen as the exclusive preserve of the federal government.
At this point, let it be stated that the same governors have been supportive and helpful to the Nigeria Police, furnishing the police with vehicles and other logistics to help their operations heretofore, and so orders like this may dampen police relations with subnational governments and that with citizens. For example, this is a huge slap in the face of these targeted persons given that a governor like Wike of Rivers State – who mourned the recent killing of police officers, affirming that money does not equate human life before giving ₦20 million each to the families of slain police officers in his state while reiterating his commitment to one Nigeria – is to have his police detachment withdrawn.
For the avoidance of doubt, FENRAD condemns the arson and sundry attacks against security agencies in the states within the Southeast but extends in equal measure same condemnation on this latest police order. The recent security issues plaguing the nation had been brewing long before now in the form of coordinated attacks by terrorists, armed herdsmen, insurgents and was only made worsened following the highjacked EndSARS protests which led to prison breaks in parts of the country. Though police intelligence points to activities of the proscribed want-away secessionist IPOB/ESN, FENRAD wishes to also remind the police of the latest US intelligence release warning the federal government that Boko Haram plots to invade southern Nigeria. No intelligence area or report should be spared focus if what is happening in Southeast and South-south are to be treated. FENRAD wants the intelligence community to be proactive and preemptive, not only being reactive.
Lastly, the police is Nigerian (national) police, a creation of the law maintained by taxes from the whole regions within the federation including the Southeast and South-south, it has no constitutional basis to separately choose which governors, senators or political VIPs in the federation to guard; after all the same police provides essential guard duty for celebrities and other private citizens which is outside their mandate. To treat insecurity in isolation is to pass an unhealthy message to citizens and governments of the regions not favoured in any appointments including those made within the federal security apparatuses.
Comrade Nelson Nnanna Nwafor
FENRAD Executive Director
Barr. Olusegun Bamgbose
Head litigation and legal matters
Aba.Abia state, Nigeria
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