Don’t discard state police over fear of abuse by governors – Edwin Clark tells Buhari

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Ijaw National Leader, Chief Edwin Clark has advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to discard the idea of state police over fears that governors could misuse the outfit.

He stated this while reacting to President Muhammadu Buhari’s comment during a viral Channels Television interview that: “State police is not an option.”

In his reaction, 94-year-old Clark described decentralised policing system as one hallmark of a truly federal state.

He emphasised the need to restructure Nigeria and have a new constitution for the survival of the nation.

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“Mr. President dismissed the call for state police in the country. He said that state police was not an option, that governors will misuse it. He gave an unrelated instance of the relationship between state governors, and local governments, that there is no functional local government in the country.

“While the president is right that no local government in this country truly functions as provided by the constitution, not even the joint account under which state governments receive monies on behalf of the local governments, because the accounts are fully controlled by the state governors, it is not enough to dismiss the demand for state police.

“Like I stated in my recent interview, state police is a popular agitation by Nigerians and was robustly discussed and agreed upon during the 2014 national conference.

“It is very unfortunate that the state governors who are elected under the party are the ones running the party today. But it is unconstitutional for Mr. President to say that state police, which was even recommended by the El-Rufai committee — as one of its items under devolution of power to be transferred from the executive list in schedule 1 of the 1999 constitution, as amended, to schedule II of the concurrent list — should be discarded.

“I totally agree with Mr. President that most state governors have undermined the provisions of the 1999 constitution, where local government is provided for under Section 8. They do not only abuse the joint account system but also engage in establishing caretaker committees, rather than conducting free, fair and democratic elections.

“I also agree with Mr. President that state police could be used by state governors in persecuting perceived political opponents, but it is also true that the federal government is also using the Nigeria Police Force to persecute perceived political opponents, undermining the NASS and obstructing free speeches. But that does not mean that the whole idea of state police should be discarded? That will mean throwing away the baby with the bathwater,” Clark said.

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