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Federalism is the answer, after all – Part 41

By Editorial Board
05 August 2021   |   4:10 am
The “reason of state,” that is, the rationale for the constitution of a political community is the protection of lives and property. When the state fails in this respect, the popular sovereignty will reconstitute itself in ways.....

The “reason of state,” that is, the rationale for the constitution of a political community is the protection of lives and property. When the state fails in this respect, the popular sovereignty will reconstitute itself in ways to avoid “the war of all against all.” This is presently the Nigerian condition. In the last few weeks, issues of security and protection of lives and property of citizens have dominated news headlines. Reportedly, three suspected armed robbers caught in the act were lynched by an angry mob in Owerri Ebiri, in the Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State. Mr. Abutu Yaro, the Imo State Commissioner of Police, confirmed the incident and condemned the “jungle justice” meted out to the suspects. As a prelude, the residents and traders in the location were said to be at the mercy of armed robbers with no succour from law enforcement agencies. However, the commissioner was said to have ordered an investigation of the cause of the incident in ways to prevent recurrence.
In Plateau State, two herders were reportedly killed in Furfum village, Jos East Local Government Area of the state. The victims were said to have gone to the village to pay compensation for a farm said to have been destroyed by cattle. In what appeared, a conflicting narrative, the state police command confirmed the lynching of the herdsmen by locals but noted that the command had received a report to the effect that some suspected kidnappers went to the residence of a retired military officer at Sabon Garin Fobur in Jos East LGA and kidnapped him. Unfortunately, the retired officer and one other person were killed by the hoodlums as a result of which police operatives, STF, local vigilantes and hunters were drafted to the area for possible arrest of the suspects. While the search for the hoodlums was ongoing, it occurred that three suspects were mobbed by locals leading to the death of two persons while the third was rescued by the police. However, the police said that a discreet investigation was being conducted.

In Kogi, two clubbers have been killed by a vigilante group in the Ogaminana community, in the Adavi Local Government Area of the state. The incident reportedly occurred when the vigilantes raided a popular hotel where the nightclub was holding contrary to an order of the local government authorities banning such a gathering. The Chairman of Adavi LGA, Joseph Salami, who confirmed the incident said that, “The vigilance group was on their usual night patrol and working according to laid down rules of the local government on the ban of nightclub activities within its domain…A clash led to the loss of two lives; an officer of the vigilance group sustained an injury and their vehicle was destroyed.” He further noted that the local government placed a ban on nightclub activities but promised to probe the incident as nobody was above the law and those found guilty would be visited by the long arm of the law. Mr. Ayuba Ede, the Commissioner of Police in the state, who spoke in a similar vein, confirmed the incident and said, “At the moment, discreet investigation is ongoing.”
These developments stand condemned. This should not be the fate and face of our country in the twenty-first century. Lives matter and are sacrosanct: they should be protected at all costs. The descent into this unfortunate low in the protection of lives and property in the country testifies to the failure of the security agencies in law enforcement. Not even the drafting of soldiers to perform routine police duties has given succour to beleaguered citizens of our dear country. Indeed, the country has become helpless and gradually people are resorting to self-help at various levels of their social organisations. While the community must, in the meantime, be sensitised to the barbarity of lynching, there is a corresponding need to make security effective.

There is so much arbitrariness in the land with investigations by the police force curiously ending in a cul-de-sac. It can be argued with a great deal of empirical evidence that the police formation has collapsed. Indeed, insecurity has become endemic to the country. What is worse, security management appears to be the only source of expenditure. Other sectors have to wait and suffer reverses even as results are few and far between.

Given the helplessness of the minders of the state, the issue of lynching of suspects has come to rear its ugly head in ways that require reflection on the over-centralisation of the security apparatuses of the country. Without a doubt, it reinforces the point being made in this federalism serial about unbundling the security architecture of the country for a properly constituted state police that is democratic and legally controlled by the federating states. The logic of federalism requires local policing, not the variant, being championed by federal authorities in the name of strange community policing within the federal force. What the nation needs urgently is a restructured police that is truly federal, autonomous but cooperating with the federal authorities in clearly delineated operational areas, and more important, under the control of federating states.

The Brazilian federation exhibits what is meant by state policing in reality. In that country, the police service is under the control of the state governments. A new Nigeria deserves no less. The current population of Brazil, a federal state, is 213, 954, 487. In the same vein, Nigeria’s population stands at 208, 994, 835. Both are members of the Forum of Federations. Brazil is run as a federation while Nigeria is run as a unitary state. Brazil is a member of the influential powerful global markets BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) while Nigeria, which appears to be the only member of the Forum of Federations that is not adhering to the principles of Federalism in its state structure, is not a member of BRICS. Which means rebasing the economy alone through your own Bureau of Statistics without restructuring your federation to reflect practice of organic federalism isn’t enough to define greatness that the world will respect. That is why the world will not revere the most populous black nation in the world until it restructures its convoluted and complicated federation that is celebrating underserved backwardness and mediocrity even at the current Tokyo (2020/2021) Olympics.

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