I used to be an advocate of the federalisation of the Nigeria Police Force which, by the prevailing constitutional order in the country, is under the exclusive legislative list of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as altered and amended).
Let me make myself clear; under the present constitution, Nigeria operates a federal system of government. In a federal system there are two levels of governmental authorities, the centre (federal government) and the federating units (states or regions).
So in the constitution there are two legislative lists, namely the Exclusive Legislative List and the Concurrent Legislative List.
The Exclusive Legislative List is exclusively preserved and reserved for the National Assembly to legislate on for the Federal Government of Nigeria on any item or subject matter contained or listed therein.
Example of items under the Exclusive List of the Constitution are the police, defence, security, banking, inland waterways, international affairs to mention just but a few.
On the contrary, under the Concurrent Legislative List, both the federal (National Assembly) and States Assemblies have power to legislate on any item enumerated in the concurrent list.
Under the Concurrent Legislative List, the National and States Assemblies can currently legislate on matters such as education, industry, agriculture, commerce, culture, etc.
The federal system of government was first introduced in the country under the Lyttleton Constitution of 1954. Before the coming into force of Oliver Lyttleton Constitution, there were two police forces in the country namely the Northern Nigeria Police Force and the Southern Nigeria Police Force.
Under the Lyettlon Constitution, police was a regional matter. There was a federal police in addition to three regional police forces to serve the three regions of the country then, namely northern, eastern and western. There was also the Native Authority Police Force which was prevalent in the then northern region.
The same system of four structures of police forces in the country was retained under the 1963 Republican Constitution.
The police system in the country became unified after the military coup of January 15, 1966 and the abolition of federal/regional system and its replacement with a unitary system of government.
Recently, there has been clamour for the return of the country into true federalism and also demand for the creation of state police to deal with the exigency of the prevailing times.
I therefore became an advocate of the creation of state police. But with recent events in my State, Cross River, where the state government has compromised the police and turned it into a stool for oppressing and victimising its political opponents and detractors, I was compelled to make a u-turn.
I now fervently believe that it is dangerous to have a state police to be run by governors that are dictatorial, unenlightened, power drunk, imperial and magisterial.
Despite the principles of separation of powers under the constitution, the governors in almost all the states have emasculated the legislative and judicial branches of governments in their respective states through subtle manipulation, intimidation, corruption and undemocratic methods.
On February 24, I was leafing through that day’s edition of the Nation Newspaper, when my curiosity was drawn to a notice placed on Page 24 by the Public Relations Department of the Nigeria Police, Cross River Police Command to the effect that my former university mate, Barrister Venatius Ikem, has been declared wanted by the police for ‘attempted murder and stealing/conversion of the property of the government of Cross River State’.
The claim by the police command against Ikem, one time National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party; two time commissioner and former Senior Special Assistant on Bureau for Public Enterprises under President Olusegun Obasanjo is undoubtedly phantom and a lie from the pit of the hell.
It is nothing but bad, petty, tyrannical, vindictive, mindless, vengeful politics of the government of Cross River State to settle political scores with Barrister Ikem who recently defected from the Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress.
Since the defection, Ikem has known no peace. A campaign of persecution, character assassination and blackmail was unleashed on him by the state government that reached its crescendo with his declaration as a fugitive from justice by the police command in collusion with the government of Cross River State.
How can the police declare a person it has never invited to confront him with any allegation of criminality wanted? How can the police in good conscience declare somebody who has not jumped police administration bail wanted? How can the police in Cross River State be so mindlessly and recklessly compromised by vested interest to embark on such a pernicious behaviour?
So I now know why some people in the country are vehemently opposed to state police. You can better imagine how a state police in the hands of a dictatorial governor would carry on.

Okoi Obono-Obla is a public affairs analyst

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