STATE POLICE: Makinde’s Ex-commissioner, Afonja, Expresses Fear

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    If approved, governors may hijack the state police if care is not taken, Governor Seyi Makinde’s former commissioner for public works, Professor Raphael Afonja, has said.

    According to the professor of civil and environmental engineering, the formation of Amotekun is laudable but said that his experience has shown that it may be used to harassed perceived opponents.

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    In an interaction with select journalists, the Ogbomoso-born security consultant with military experience, explained that community policing in partnership with the Nigeria Police Force, and other security agencies is the first step and an integral part of securing Oyo State from terrorists, thuggery, and cultism.

    All three, Afonja added, have become the new normal in Oyo State.

    The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, chieftain said that “some have even taken over the duties of law enforcement officers. There’s a threat to our state security and most terrorists focus on a porous border. Terrorists and thuggery have taken advantage of our weakened law enforcement institutions, judicial institutions, and security services to smuggle their groups, money, and weapons into the State. This speaks to ineffective governance where the executive does not have a clue on how to deliver vital services such as security to the people of the state.

    “Now is the time that the current administration shows some seriousness on security and take action and enforce state laws that will discourage lawlessness. To effectively address the threats posed by our failed institutions, the state government needs to move beyond the rhetorical acknowledgment of the problem towards a more proactive and strategic approach that can be characterized both by preventive measures and innovative responses to state failures in progress when it comes to security threats.

    “While the idea to have South West Amotekun Network is laudable, I fear that state governors will politicize that institution and weaponize them to do their biddings during elections or as an instrument of intimidation/harassment. People have been harassed by government officials through the police and other security agencies. Therefore, we are not ready for state police until our judiciary is separated from the Executive. This includes the attorney general’s office.

    “Amotekun can be allowed to perform duties as peace officers but shouldn’t be empowered as investigating or arresting officers until mechanisms that can be used to make them accountable are put in place. For now Nigeria Police Force should continue to act in that role.

    “It is important to note that poverty and corruptions are not the only factors that creates terrorists but very weak institutions. Many traditional development tools that include strategic planning, adaptation, and paying specific attention will limit the potential for the state to serve as a haven for terrorist organizations or to become a resource for their suppliers. The immediate solution must be for the federal government to look at the population to security officers ratio. That will inform them of the budget they will need to aggressively recruit policemen and women so that each state will have the required police force that they need to secure life and properties. This recruitment can be done over three years.

    “Regardless of party affiliation, the federal government needs to partner with states to recruit volunteers that can add value through improved intelligence gathering that will be used to counter this threat and make informed decisions as it relates to protecting the state. Eventually, states will need their own state police that will answer to the executive and the judiciary.

    “To effectively create state police, some mechanisms must be put in place. I am of the opinion that the executive shouldn’t be allowed to nominate attorney general for the state, instead, they should be elected by the people through a statewide election with the hope that OYSIEC won’t do the governor’s bidding but will stay true to the people. Then we will also hope the AG understands that s/he was elected to serve the people. Some judges at the state level should also be elected to the bench so that they can only be answerable to the people and not the executive. This will give top law enforcement officers and judges the autonomy to follow the letters of the law without comprising themselves.

    “Therefore, state assemblies need to have these policy debates in time for the next coming election. Furthermore, the social welfare and mental health of the police force and other security agencies in our communities should also be our priority. To encourage security agencies and their officers to adequately do their job, the federal government needs to give them proper training, psychological test before entry and during service, require yearly weapons qualification and safety, adequate resources include good weapons, and uniforms, and increase their salaries. The state on the other hand, needs to be transparent with how their security vote/funds are been spent. Some of that money should be allocated to the welfare of the police, security volunteers, community vigilantes, traditional institutions and other security agencies through their local administration.

    “I think a law should be passed to force governors to start accounting for their state’s security vote. Everything must be accounted for to make sure the people get value for their money and they can confirm that the money is used for the things. However, a check and balance mechanism should be in place to make sure these funds gets to the officers that sacrifice for our freedom. However, security officers must also be held accountable and be ready to face the wrath of the State law if and when a crime is committed.

    “It is very important that while we agree that we are all Nigerians and are allowed to move to and reside in any part of the country, it is imperative that we identify those people coming into Oyo State and have them registered as residents of the state. The influx of people from unknown places in droves on trucks, and the recent inflow of motorcycles into Ibadan should be checked out and cautioned. We need to know who lives amongst us in Oyo communities. It’s time to identify our neighbors and track those coming into the state and their whereabouts to make sure we are safe in our homes.

    The police, soldiers, and civil defense need to be vigilant, and thorough when it comes to carrying out their duties. We the people are also responsible and partners when it comes to the security of Oyo state. When we see something that’s out of place from the norm we should immediately speak up to the right authorities and that includes our traditional institutions. Traditional institutions must step up and take ownership of their communities, regularly bring awareness on security to the people and be responsible for conflict resolution. Without a secured state we cannot have economic freedom and our farmers will continue to be oppressed by these terrorists that live in our communities. While some cases of herdsmen and farmers’ clashes might come off as civil, there is that need to criminalize anyone that weaponizes their animal to destroy another person’s livelihood. The state government needs to invest in traditional institutions, security agencies, local vigilante groups, and see all of them as equal partners when trying to resolve the threats posed by these criminals.

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