Security – Decentralized State & Community Police System

On the 25th of December 2016, Goska, a community in Southern Kaduna was attacked by suspected Fulani Herdsmen, houses were destroyed and people were killed. For several hours that this operation went on, there was no response from the Nigerian Police Force. The affected communities could not defend themselves, likewise the state government.  This is not the first time invaders have successfully invaded Nigerian communities, committed atrocities and escape uncaught. From the East to the South, Middle Belt and the North, communities have remained vulnerable to attacks.

There is a reason why such attacks have been successful across Nigerian communities. There is a reason why communities cannot react to attacks. It is the same reason why communities will continue to remain vulnerable in the face of invaders. The reason is quite simple. Communities have no control over their own security and the federal controlled Police is too inefficient to  be trusted in managing local security. Moreover, most (if not all) officers of the Nigerian Police share no cultural and historical ties with the community they police over, there is therefore no sense of duty! In essence, there is no local police system in Nigeria!

Nigeria has a highly centralized police system that is controlled by the Presidency! The state governments and communities have little control over their own security. There are hundreds of Nigerian communities without the presence of this federal police, yet the law has made it impossible for such communities to establish their own police force, secure their people, property and territory. What kind of system fails to provide you security and yet denies you the legal right to provide security for yourself?

Analysts have argued that if Nigeria had a state and community Police system, communities like Goska in Southern Kaduna would have simply responded to the invaders by defending themselves with their local police force and possibly attacking the invaders. State police would be on standby if they (the Goska Police) become overwhelmed by superior fire from the invaders. None of this is in existence right now; neither community nor state police exist in Nigeria.

One aspect of federalism that the present APC led federal government can easily implement without rancor is the demand for state and community policing. This is one aspect of true federalism which both Northern and Southern politicians have agreed Nigeria is ready for.

 Security should not be managed in such a highly centralized manner as it currently is in Nigeria. Security should be managed by both the state and communities and not solely by the federal government. Over-centralization of security through the Nigerian Police has turned out to be less effective way of managing security crisis. The Nigerian Police Force presently comprises of about 400,000 officers yet it is still considered as grossly inadequate. There are hundreds of Nigerian villages and thousands of neighborhood without any Nigerian Police presence. This is in fact a threat to local and national security.

Just like every other federal owned institution, the federal police is not only inefficient but also poorly funded. By devolving security duties of the Police to both state and communities, the federal government will be killing two birds with one stone. How? By devolving the present Nigerian Police Force into state and community control, the federal recurrent expenditure will be drastically reduced and the blame on the federal government for certain crimes (i.e. herdsmen attack) will be pushed to the states and community governments. There will be no job loss as states will simply absorb its resident officers from the existing federal police force and establish its own state and community police system. Quite simple!

Abuja cannot continue to control everything in Nigeria and receive all the blames. This unitary system of government is old fashion and redundant. It it time to push certain responsibilities from the federal government to the state and community governments and the issue of security is obviously one of such. The vigilante system in most states and communities have proven to be far more effective than the federal police system. What we must now do is to legalize such vigilante system, empower the local people and put them in charge of their own security. That is federalism in action! Standard practice. Nobody protects a community better than the local residents of the community.

Until we restructure Nigeria and entrench true federalism (state and community policing are features of federalism), our communities will remain vulnerable and the Presidency will continue to take the blames for the security crisis. State and community police system is now imperative.