Human rights lawyer and senior advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Femi Falana on Wednesday told governors of the 36 states of the federation not to expect President Muhammadu Buhari to help them maintain law and order in their states.
He said the governors have the power to control the police in their states.
Falana spoke at a Colloquium in honour of the Executive Editor, The News/PM News, Kunle Ajibade who turned 60 two days ago.
The event, under the theme, “A Brighter Future for Nigeria and how to get there.” was held at the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs, NIIA, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Noting the many killings in the land, Falana said unequivocally that it was not the duty of the Federal Government to maintain law and order in the states, as such duties belonged to the governors.
“A governor cannot go to the television and be crying that his people are killed. No. Under the constitution of 1999, Section 214, we don’t have a federal government police, we have the Nigerian Police Force which shall be controlled, organised and supervised by the Nigerian Police Council.
“Who are the members of the Nigerian Police Council? The president as Chairman, Inspector General of Police, the Chairman of the Police Service Commission and the 36 state governors. So, we have a body where the governors constitute the largest number to determine the fate of the police.
“The president cannot appoint the IGP without seeking your consent or remove one. But what has happened since 1999? The governors have totally abdicated the responsibility of managing the Nigerian police force to the president. No governor is informed, they are only informed in a meeting and nobody will oppose it and that is the end of the matter. That is why we are in this mess.
“We are in a republic where the Supreme Court has held that the governor of a state is not for decoration, you have the power to give instruction to the police. The only time the commissioner of police can disapprove your instructions is when he says, please, I want to confirm from the president,” said.
Falana stated that under this dispensation, he has never heard of a situation where a governor ordered a Commissioner of Police to look for kidnappers who were causing problem in his state and the commissioner refused to do so.
“The only thing Abuja does for the police is the payment of their salary. The operational allowances, equipment and the rest have been abandoned to the states. Why then are the governors not taking control of the law and order in their states?”
Lamenting that people are still being killed in Kaduna, Zamfara, Benue and Taraba, the human rights activist added that robbery and kidnapping were also going on in other parts of the country.
“How did we get here? So, if we are gathered here to discuss the future of Nigeria, there has to be peace before we can plan ahead. Armed bandits have killed about 5,000 people in the last one-year in Zamfara State.
“Since the government has lost the monopoly of violence to criminals as it is happening now, it is high time we called on the National Assembly to enact a law to allow military training for Nigerian citizens. Pending the enactment of that law, I am calling on President Buhari to make facilities available in those states where lives have become totally endangered is in line with section 220 of the Nigerian constitution,” he said.
Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbeola aligned with Falana’s position, while urging Nigerians not to be despaired.
“The success of any African country as said by former Ghanaian president will be nothing if it is not linked to the success of the people.
“My vision is for a Nigeria that will give leadership to other nations, particularly within the Lake region of Africa, where the wealth of our race is actually. Nigeria has the potential to rally the annexation of the resources in Central Africa namely Congo, Kenya and others. Only Nigeria has the means to lead the process of using the resources for the uplift of black race,” he said.
Former Governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba said former President Olusegun Obasanjo used the police to rig him and others out of power in 2003.
“ In my own case, I had Israel Ajao as Police Commissioner. Weeks before the poll, he was working effectively and furnished me with security reports.
“But the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, transferred him to Abuja. I had to fight before he was redeployed to Ogun State and that tells you how the President could disrupt things in the states,” he said.
While recalling how former IGP, Musiliu Smith, was removed from office, Osoba lamented that these were some of the issues that had affected the country’s democracy.
Dignitaries at the event included the Publisher, Vanguard newspapers, Sam Amuka; former Civil Liberties Organisation President, Ayo Obe; Odia Ofeimum, lawyer Lai Babatunde, Amb. Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu; Mike Awoyinfa, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, Prof. Tunde Babawale, Tunde Rahman, Gbenga Adefaye, Alh. Sanni Kabir, Owei Lakemfa, Omoba Yemisi Shyllon, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, and others.