Some members of the Oyo State House of Assembly on Thursday expressed support for the creation of state police.
The members, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan, said state police would adequately address the recurring security challenges in the country.
Olusegun Olaeleye (APC-Ibadan North I) said the clamour for the creation of locally-controlled police force had gained momentum and was in popular demand.
“We, as representatives of the people, cannot ignore something that has been endorsed by a majority of the people and we must take into account the views of people in tackling security challenges.
“The creation of a state police is a popular demand and it is not surprising since security has become a major challenge in the country.
“The recurring challenges which have resulted in the loss of lives and properties call for proactive measures and having a state police is a move in the right direction,” he said.
Mr. Olaleye said the fear of abuse by the governors, however, had been expressed in some quarters.
According to him, the ongoing constitutional amendments which include giving financial autonomy to state houses of assembly would ensure the effectiveness of checks and balances on governors.
“Having a decentralized police force which would be controlled by governors of each state could result in abuse of its powers especially by a vindictive and power intoxicated governor.
“However, if each house of assembly under the present constitutional review can gain financial autonomy whereby no governor can impose his will on the house of assembly, the legislature can regain its conscience and work as a check on the executive arm of government,” he said.
Gbenga Oyekola (LP-Atiba) said the fear of abuse was not a good argument against decentralization of the police force.
“Initially, I was against state police, mainly on the grounds that governors will abuse it.
“I have now changed my mind because the fear of abuse cannot outweigh securing the lives and properties of my people. There can be constitutional provisions to check abuse.
“The purpose of state police is for us to be able to have people who are indigenes of a particular state manning the police force, a police force that will know the nooks and crannies of the state and also understand its peculiarity.
“Policing should be a local affair especially in the face of the recurring farmers/herdsmen clashes,” he said.
Muiden Olagunju, (Accord- Oyo East/Oyo West) said that there would be a need for a constitutional amendment before talks on state police could go on.
“The issue of policing in Nigeria is constitutionally regulated; the constitution in the exclusive legislative list specifically states that issue of policing rests with the Federal Government.
“If agitation will have to come for us to have state police, we will need constitutional changes and you know that cannot be done within the context of the present Nigerian situation.
“We are too divided for some states to say we want state police and for others to say we don’t want. It is a very crucial and critical issue; it has to be properly dealt with at the appropriate time.
“I personally support state police, but the agitation so far will have to be done within the confines of the constitution,” he said.
Mr. Olagunju allayed the fear that the state police could be an instrument of arbitrariness by governors, saying there would be constitutional provisions to tackle this.
He called for the promotion of the rule of law in the country to guarantee the inalienable rights of each citizen. (NAN)