The Need for State Police
DR. Obi Wali (27 February 1932 – 26 April 1993) was an intellectual giant compared to his height. Dr Wali would take you on intellectual voyage and you will never be the same again.
The manner of his death is still a shock to me till today. He was violently murdered and dismembered at home in his bedroom by suspected hired assassins on April 26, 1993. Dr Obi Wali was in the league of intellectuals like S.G. Ikoku, Chief Bola Ige, Dr. Ibrahim Tahir, Comrade Ola Oni, Gani Fawehinmi, Kanmi Ishola Osobu, Odia Ofeimun, Dr. Bala Usman, Professor Godini Gabriel Darah (75), Comrade Laoye Sanda, Professor Akin Oyebode, Arthur Nwankwo, Chinua Achebe, Professor Wole Soyinka, Dr. Tai Solarin, Kole Omotosho, Professor Ladipo Adamolekun, Professor Bayo Williams (Road to Kigali), Professor Ralph Akinfeleye and a host of others too numerous to mention. They all live in a world of ideas.
Dr Obi Wali was a member of the Constituent Assembly. In 1979, he was elected Senator to represent Port Harcourt Senatorial zone of Rivers State. Other senators elected to represent Rivers State at that time were Senators Francis Ajie, John Ellah (Ahoada/Ikwere/Etche), Gbene Cyrus Nwidonane Nunieh (Bonny/Bori), O. Eberewariye (Degema) and Amatari Zuofa (Brass/Sagbama/Yenogoa).
Dr Obi Wali later became the deputy NPP Senate leader to Senator Jaja Anucha Nwachukwu (January 1, 1918- November 7, 1996) from Aba. That was when I became his friend. His intellectual contributions in the Senate, were exceptional. In 2014 the Obi Wali International Conference Centre was opened to the public in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, created and named in the memory of Obi Wali’s political and literary contributions. Till today, the Ikwerre people organise an annual memorial lecture in Obi Wali’s honour.
Dr Obi Wali’s Committee did not recommend the creation of a State Police. What the committee recommended was: “The Sub-Committee in discussing the structure of the police for the country raised the question whether the unified Police system, now in operation, accords with the spirit of federalism. The preponderance of sentiments, however, was for the continuation of a unified structure.”
However, while the Sub-Committee favours the continuation of a unified police structure for the country, it believes that a different arrangement from what now obtains should be made in the operation use of the Police. This is because each level of government, central state and local has responsibility for the maintenance of law and order and each should share in the operational control of the Police commensurate with the level of its responsibilities. The Sub-Committee recommends that the Police Force that operates at the local authority area should be under the operational direction of the local authorities, where such local authorities have been entrusted with the responsibility for maintenance of law and order.
Conflicts between the local authority and local police command could be resolved through a system of appeals, the police appealing through the state command and local authority through the State Ministry of Local Government. It is also suggested that an advisory committee established at the local level could be used in useful discussing issues concerning the local authority/local police relations.
The Sub-Committee discussed Section 106(4) of the 1963 Constitution which requires the Commissioner of Police of a region to comply with the direction of the Premier of a Region and that in case of disagreement with such direction, the Commissioner may request that the matter be referred to the Prime Minister of the Federation.
It was argued that the recourse directly to the Prime Minister rather than through the intermediary of the Inspector-General of Police undermines his authority as the Inspector-General has the constitutional responsibility for the operational control of the Police. However, it was agreed that it is not proper that any disagreement involving the Governor of a state be passed through the Inspector-General who is a public official.
The issue of possible conflict between the state and central government on the control of police operations, especially where the state government concerned is from a party which is not the same as the party in control of the central government, was raised. It was thought that this issue is not limited to control of police only and that it is a question of state/federal relations to be dealt with by the appropriate sub-committee”.
”There shall be a Police Force for Nigeria, which shall be styled the Nigeria Police Force. 2. Subject to the provision of this Constitution, the Nigeria Police Force shall be organised and administered in accordance with such provision as may be made in that behalf by the legislature. 3. Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the members of the Nigeria Police Force shall have such powers and duties as may be conferred upon them by any law in force in Nigeria. 4. No police forces other than the Nigeria Police Force shall be established for Nigeria or any part thereof. 5. The Legislature may make provision during emergencies for Police Forces forming part of the armed forces of the Federation, or for protection of harbours, waterways, railways and airfields. 6. There shall be an Inspector-General of the Nigeria Police and a Commissioner of Police for each state of the Federation, whose offices shall be offices in the Public Service of the Federation.