A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Mike Ozekhome, has called for collective efforts of Nigerians in the fight against insecurity.
Speaking while presenting some office equipment to the Maitama District Police in Abuja on Tuesday, the legal Icon said state and community policing was the key to effectively checking crime.
”Government and the police also require the support of well-meaning Nigerians”, he said, adding that the little gesture which he had made should be emulated by other Nigerian who have the means.
“When you approached me last week that you needed some equipment to help you carry out your duties, I thought I could just get them and give them to you quietly.
“But I am told that friends of the Police thought otherwise, that the World should be able to know so that others can follow suit.
“I want to make it clear that the issue of security is not situated with government alone. Government alone can never give us security.
“Government can act as a catalyst then allowing all citizens to buy in.
“That is why I do not like section 214 and 215 of the Constitution. Those sections centralises the Nigerian Police Force as one big force, not allowing the states and local governments to have policy as we have in developed countries of the world.
“In the U. S., you have the CIA, you have the FBI, you have the DC metropolitan Police. Apart from these federal institutions, every of the 50 states in America has its own police force.
“Every county council, what we call local government areas here, has its own police force, every tertiary institution has its own police and every city has its own police.
“We all know about the famous New York Police Department (NYPD), the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) – the result is a synergy of efforts to fight crime,” he said.
The Constitutional lawyer stressed that all these police departments work independently and in synergy to maintain the peace in the whole of the U.S.
Exemplifying with the breakdown of law in Washington in 2020, he said that it was the DC Police that quelled the mob before other federal police departments intervened.
He said however that in the case of Nigeria, a commissioner of Police can decide to seek clearance from the Inspector General before setting out to handle a security situation.
He said even when the state governors are tagged the Chief Security Officers in their states, they do not have the absolute power to deploy or direct the police in their states.
The SAN therefore stressed that it was important to have state and local government police made up of mainly residents in the locality, stressing that the advantages far outweighed any perceived the disadvantage.
“But in Nigeria we have only one police force headed by the Inspector General of Police.
“The Federal Capital Territory within the Constitution is like a state, so Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) is a Local Government Area like any of the other 774 LGAs in Nigeria.
“So give me one reason why Abuja municipality should not be allowed to carry out the policy of this area alone unaffected by the Federal Police, with our area commander here being in Charge?
“This is why I have always called for and I now maintain that there is need for us to have state police and community policing.
“The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages,” Ozekhome added.
He said that the FCT is originally owned by the Gbagyi who know the terrains more than anyone else, and a police force made up more of people within the FCT will be more effective that officers from other regions.
Ozekhome said that composing a police of people who do not know the terrain would make it difficult for them to go after crime.
“This is to call on the Federal government and the National Assembly during this Constitution Amendment: this is the time for us to get it right, to break up the Nigerian Police Force which for now is to unwielding.
“That is why they are having the challenges they are having.
“My second appeal is to those big men in Nigeria, why not extend part of your wealth to assist in security matters.
“When you don’t have security you cannot have progress, that is why if you go round Maitama you see some fences higher that of Kirikiri correctional centre.
“So we have made ourselves prisoners in our own system because of the inequality between the haves and the have nots.
A society that does not care for the youth, that does not care about their education, and when they scale through university, they come out without jobs,” he said
He said that the inequality, lack of jobs and quest to survive had driven young Nigerians into become fraudsters, prostitutes and seeking to travel abroad through any means.
He added that such a society was only breeding anarchy and chaos and if we are not careful it will consume all of us.
“So, our big men should rise to the occasion, whatever you have, give to the Police to secure us because they have the primary responsibility to secure us, not the Army.
“Buy them vehicles, buy them equipment. I call on all Nigerians to help the Nigerian Police Force, they are your friends,” he said.
Responding after receiving the items, the Assistant Commissioner of Police of the Maitama Area Command, Nurideen Sabo, commended Ozekhome for his benevolence.
“I sincerely show our deep appreciation to Dr Mike Ozekhome, there is no word we can say to compliment the gesture that we have received this afternoon,” he said
He said that when his clerk informed him that the desktop and photocopiers in the offices were dilapidated, he sought for who could assist the police and someone suggested Chief Ozekhome
The Police official added that upon approaching the legal icon, he did not hesitate in accepting which had now culminated in the presentation, barely one week after the request.
“Last week I came with this request and today you are presenting these things. I have heard that you are a silent philanthropist and you do not blow your trumpet.
“I suggested that you should make the donation public today, that way you motivate us and also encourage others to emulate you in supporting the police.
“The police cannot do it alone, government cannot supply all our demands, we must collaborate with people like you,” he said.