*As Govs, Senators endorse State Police
By Chesa Chesa and Ignatius Okorocha
President Muhammadu Buhari has admitted that Nigeria’s security challenges is enormous and charged security agencies to wake up to their responsibilities.
He made the remark on Monday in Abuja at a meeting of the National Security Council at the Presidential Villa, in the wake of the continued killings by herdsmen in various parts of the country.
The meeting came two days after the Boko Haram terrorist group freed the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) lecturers and some policemen’s wives it abducted some months ago. Their release followed intricate negotiation brokered by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Details of the security meeting were not made public and none of the participants who included Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and heads of military and paramilitary agencies was willing to talk to the press.
However, in his official Twitter handle, the President explained that the meeting was in appreciation of the “seriousness and urgency” of the security challenges and the need to find durable solutions that can regain the confidence of Nigerians.
He wrote: “Today, I presided over a meeting of the Security Council. We fully understand the seriousness and urgency of Nigeria’s security issues, and are determined to implement carefully considered solutions that will not only earn the confidence of Nigerians, but also stand the test of time
“One of the resolutions from our security meeting today is that all our law enforcement agencies must take intelligence-gathering and sharing much more seriously. The Police and Department of State Services (DSS) especially have been charged to step up their efforts and capacity in this regard.
“Our law enforcement agencies must at all times stay ahead of bandits and criminals, wherever they are across the country, by efficiently gathering, sharing and acting on credible Intelligence. I am assuring that we will give them all the support needed to succeed.
“Let me also assure that all persons arrested so far, including those arrested for illegally possessing arms, will be duly prosecuted. I urge judicial officers to be alive to their responsibilities in this regard, to enable the speedy dispensation of justice,” he said.
The service chiefs at the meeting were the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin; the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai; the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.
There were also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha; the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali; the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, and the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd).
Others were the Director-General of the DSS), Lawal Daura; the Director-General of the Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Abubakar and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris.
Also yesterday, the Chairman, Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Alhaji Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari, and Senators at the just-concluded National Security Summit, agreed with Osinbajo’s that the adoption of state police was the only panacea to the lingering security challenges in the country.
Most of the speakers and participants at the summit maintained that addressing various ethnic agitations in the country would also reduce tensions and the spate of killings in the country.
Fielding questions from journalists at the end of the summit, Governor Yari said that although the Governors’ Forum was divided on state police before now, but with the acceptance of the Vice President for state police, the group would have to adopt the Federal Government’s stand.
He said: “The take home from this summit is that the Vice President raised some of the key discussions about the issue of state police.
“The state police is something we have agreed during the constitutional amendment, but at a later time when the NGF divided into two, some governors played to the gallery, which is unfortunate.
“Today, we have reiterated the position of the Vice President on the security summit we held on August 17, that there is a need for state police. And we can say it is the only answer.
“The police of today are inadequate so, if we look at the ratio, it is far below international standard. Therefore, we in the Forum agreed that we can find a way that we can fine-tune the issue of state police,” Yari stated.
On the position of some governors on the high financial burden of maintaining state police, Yari said that states that are ready for the initial take-off of such could go ahead.
He said: “That is why we are saying that it is not all the states that are supposed to have state police. Those that can, should have it. For instance, Lagos State, as rich as they are, can have state police.
“The federal police in Lagos, can be sent to Osun, Ogun and other states which cannot do it. If Rivers State can afford it, the number of federal police there can be redeployed to Cross River and other neighbouring states like Enugu if it cannot do it. If Kano State can do it, they can take to my state that is not all that rich. It is something that we can’t take up at the same time and land at the same time,” he stressed.
Senators who expressed optimism that the summit would give Nigerians the result they want in terms of security, said that practical and verifiable options were crucial in tackling insecurity.
Senator Victor Umeh said that “contributors continue to highlight the need for government to tackle the root causes of insecurity in the country. It is not enough when these things escalate and then, we begin to adopt fire brigade approach.
A member of the Senate Committee on Security and National Intelligence, Senator Sam Egwu, said that the issue of security required collaborative efforts.
According to him, “everybody is in danger and we don’t have to leave that to the Executive arm of government alone”.
Senate Minority, Senator Godswill Akpabio, shared the views canvassed by Osinbajo for the decentralisation of the Nigeria Police, saying that the subject was unanimously adopted by virtually all the stakeholders at the summit.
Akpabio noted that hue and cry for grazing reserve was jettisoned by speakers at the forum because it would be difficult to trace grazing routes because of urbanisation, adding that it was the view of many that ranching be given a priority by the Federal Government.
Senator Samuel Anyanwu (PDP Imo West) noted that the issue of federal character was brought into focus.
He said that the outright marginalisation of the South East in key security positions was unjustified and contributes to the agitations in the zone.
Senator Ali Wakili (Bauchi-APC) said that equity and justice were crucial in addressing security issues in the country.
He said “tropical issues have been brought up to help those of us in the Senate to think when issues of insecurity crop up”.