Former Inspector General of Police under the General Ibrahim Babangida military regime, Alhaji Muhammadu Gambo Jimeta, has taken a swipe at those campaigning for the establishment of state police particularly, General Babangida, saying such a move would not be in the interest of the nation.
The ex-police boss, who spoke to newsmen at his Abuja residence to mark the Eid-el-Fitr celebration at the weekend, also blamed the military for the rot in the Police Force.
Jimeta, who said he had in the past differed with Babangida’s position on some issues even when he was serving in his government, insisted that it would be suicidal for the nation to kowtow to what he described as ‘minority’ demand for state police especially given the nation’s peculiar circumstance with regards to the diversity of its population.
He said those who served in the police understand the workings of the system and from that point of view, will not support those canvassing for state police including Babangida.
“The former Head of State was my boss and I served under him. I have also read his views on the issue of state police as reported in the newspapers. With due respect, there is a wide margin of disagreement between us operating in the force and people like my former boss while I was in office, we had differences.
“Nigeria presents a very peculiar situation with a vast number of tribes and if you want to keep Nigeria united, you require certain institutions to do that and it was agreed that a single police force, devoid of ethnicity and politics was needed”, he said.
Jimeta recalled that during the constitutional conference in the 1960s, it was agreed that some issues be made ‘residual’ and others ‘exclusive’, explaining that the police was one of such exclusive preserves of the Federal Government so as to guarantee a security force whose operations would be devoid of sectional or ethnic sentiments.
He said with the current legal framework guiding the activities of the police, neither the President nor the governor has the powers to use the police outside the provisions of the law.
The former IGP also hailed the report of the Parry Osayande-led Presidential Committee on the Re-organisation of the Nigeria Police especially for recommending the scrapping of the Ministry of Police Affairs.
He described the ministry as a waste of money and another conduit pipe to fritter the nation’s resources away.
The former IGP also accused the military of laying the foundation for the monumental destruction of the Nigeria Police, adding that policemen fared better in the First Republic.
“The military destroyed the police. We are doomed if anybody can be lobbied to truncate the truth. This is part of the national dishonesty we are talking about. It is a ploy to steal more money. It is criminal, the way and manner we handle the security of this country”, he said.
The former police boss also described as unhealthy, the continued proliferation of security agencies in the country, saying that if adequately funded, the Nigeria Police can handle all the functions which some new agencies or commissions have now been saddled with.
“There is now a proliferation of security agencies to the extent that if something happens, you would not know which of the agencies to hold accountable”, he argued.
Babangida in an interview last week to mark his 71st birthday threw his weight behind the calls for the establishment of state police, saying that the fears being entertained in certain quarters for the creation of state police were unfounded.
“Left to me, the whole essence of governance is to provide adequate security for the people and in whatever way this is achieved, it is acceptable. I don’t think what happened in the 50s should continue to haunt us. We should try to move on.
“When we were there, we established the National Guards that was so vilified and was later dropped. Why should we think that what happened in the 50s when the regional police were used to intimidate members of the opposition political parties will continue to happen under the present dispensation? I don’t think the incumbent governors can use state police to intimidate anybody. Honestly, the fear is unfounded”, he said