Ondo State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, yesterday dismissed the suggestion by the police high command that states will fund special constables to be recruited for community policing.
Reacting to Tuesday’s statement by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIG), Research and Planning, Mr. Adeleye Oyebade, that states would fund community police, the governor said it will not be the duty of the 36 state governors to fund the programme when it becomes operational.
He added that the South-west security outfit, Amotekun, would not operate under the community policing arrangement, adding that there is a law guiding its operations, which is distinct from the police.
Oyebade, while featuring on a television programme, had said: “They are special constables and they shall be recruited as community policing officers and the process of recruitment shall be guided by Section 49 to 50 of the Nigeria Police Act.
“So, the special constable is going to be an auxiliary police officer.
“We are expecting them to put in 16 working hours in a week and the remuneration is going to be paid by the state government after we must have trained and retrained and got them deployed in the local government where they have been recruited because they know the culture, the language, the orientation and the topography of the area for them to be able to work with the police at that level.”
He had added that all other security arrangements in the country would fall under the community policing arrangement of the federal government.
But speaking yesterday on a television programme, Akeredolu faulted the police chief’s statement that the states would fund the community policing network.
He said: “I am sure that they are taking this thing too far. Governors will have to pay? We have discussed this thing before and we told them it is not going to be possible. Are you increasing our allocations? Which state governor will accept that? Other states might say, ‘Yes, we will pay’, but we will not pay.
“Let’s be fair to ourselves; we are running a federal system. Where is that money going to come from when we are struggling to pay salaries? Nobody has ever come to us to say we will pay salaries (of community policemen) anyway and if they come, we will write to say, no, we don’t have extra money to do that.”
On the issue of the police regulating Amotekun, Akeredolu said: “It will never be accepted; it is not our thinking. We have a law that sets this up. If the DIG feels otherwise, there is always a place for us to ventilate it. We are not afraid of this. The law says Amotekun will operate under its own law; it is not going to be subsumed under any set-up. No.
“We will not collapse Amotekun for community policing. It will stand on its own. There is no intimidation. We are not people that can be intimidated (or) that the IG will give orders to. We will not. Amotekun is different. Community policing is different. If the IG does not understand, he will leave one day and other people will understand.
“We will work together; it is collaboration, not that it will be subsumed. The law is there and if anybody finds a fault in that law, we can go to court and ventilate whatever position in it. The DIG is totally wrong, Amotekun will not be subsumed under the community policing.”
He also spoke on the plans for Amotekun personnel to bear arms, stating: “We are trying to make a case but we’ve not yet agreed as to what should be with the issue of ammunition. For now, we allow Amotekun (cops) to carry non-prohibited ammunition. There is some ammunition that is non-prohibited. But we know it can look suicidal trying to confront these criminals with non-prohibited ammunition; so, we are looking at other means.
“These are disciplined people and if they carry arms, it will be for protection. We will keep having this discussion with the police and at the national level. But if the Nigerian police find it difficult to prevent herders who carry weapons with their cows; some of them have prohibited arms like AK-47 and you have not been able to prevent that; so, what stops disciplined people like Amotekun (operatives) to carry arms for protection?
“At least when the civil defence started; they were not carrying arms; they didn’t allow them to carry arms but a case was made and they now carry arms. We will continue to discuss this.”
He called for a multi-level policing to effectively confront the security challenges in the country.
According to Akeredolu, “No state takes pride in insecurity and the governors will be committed to (state policing) because most governors are elected to secure the lives and property within their domains. So, which state will now have the police of its own and not deploy it to good use?
“Multi-level policing is the best for this country. I am one of those who believe we cannot have central police and that security will continue to suffer until we devolve multi-level policing.
“Maybe people are afraid that the governors will take charge of it. No, the governors will not be the ones who will be solely responsible for state police. It will be a police council at the state level, the composition will be spelt out and people will be there by the virtue of their offices. So, it is not going to be a command that will be headed by a governor but by the functionality of the state police council.”