Govs see themselves as lords, their powers must be curtailed — Ex-IGP on State Police

Govs see themselves as lords, their powers must be curtailed — Ex-IGP on State Police

Former Inspector General of Police, Solomon Ehigiator Arase, has said that just as an effective state policing is needed to curb Nigeria’s worsening security situation, an institutional control for state police should be provided in the Nigerian Constitution to ensure their effectiveness.

Arase, who stated this in an exclusive Interview with Vanguard newspaper, noted that for the state police to also function efficiently, the overbearing powers of the Nigerian governors should also be removed as they might frustrate efforts of the security operatives if retained.

The former IGP said: “Policing is local. Our various communities were policing themselves before we had the federal structure when the white men came. The only style we had is that for state police to work effectively, there must be institutional control put in the Constitution to ensure that whatever infraction or misuse the state police is put into, there are consequences, otherwise they will become so powerful.

“Even now, are the state governors not so powerful, don’t they want to determine whatever happens in the system? So, it is about political culture, and political maturity and it is about state governors being able to define what power is and also accept that power is transient and must be handled with a lot of caution. In America, have you ever heard that they used their police force against their opponents? The legal system and the societal bonds do not accept that kind of power that we have here. Here what we have are monarchs, traditional institutions where you never oppose whoever is the head of this and that.

“That is the same tendency in their various states. They are Lords unto themselves, after God, they are next. We must remove those powers from them, remove those tendencies for them to be able to know that power must be treated with a lot of responsibility; you don’t use it to intimidate your opponent. People will go as far as preventing some of their opponents from coming into their states to campaign. You know these things are hard.

Speaking on retired IGPs heading Police Service Commission, Irase said: “For those who have been looking into my own stand, I have always asked myself, why are they fighting the Police Service Commission? Supposing tomorrow they retire and they are now in the Commission, will they be happy if an IGP or someone of lower rank starts treating them that way?

“The issue that they are even arguing about has always been there. I was a principal officer for five years under three successive Inspectors-General of Police. What we did was that, since the Police Service Commission has a constitutional mandate to employ, we would do a letter to them asking them to delegate that power to us because they don’t have the numeric strength to go around the states of the federation to conduct the interview and, in writing, they usually ceded that power to us.

“When we have done the preliminaries, before the final selection, we would now ask members of the Commission to be part of the panel either at the zone or the headquarters where they will do the final selection. That was the procedure.

“So, these young men who say no, it is their responsibility, to be candid with you, when former IGP Adamu stated that issue of taking the Police Service Commission Chairman to court, I started asking myself, what was running through his mind? You take over an exercise because you want to have the power to recruit people from your area that are not well-qualified.

“Is that the kind of policy you want to build for the future and you now start talking about the Commission Chairman, this and that? To me, whether the bill is real or not, the idea of bringing retired police officers as Chairman of the Commission is they are better placed to understand the chemistry of an organization they were in before accepting the position,” he explained.

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