A retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Adedayo Adeoye, tells SOLOMON ODENIYI in this interview that only state police can address the insecurity in Zamfara and other states
What do you make of the insistence of the Zamfara State Government to allow residents to bear arms?
At the moment, there is no law in the country empowering residents to bear firearms. As a result of this, the order of the Zamfara State Government cannot stand. In the past, people were entitled to have single or double–barrel guns with the approval of the commissioner of police but recently the Federal Government banned the issuance of these firearms. There was even a time the Federal Government appealed to those who had firearms to surrender them.
The Zamfara Government does not even need to empower its residents to own firearms. What I would advise the state governors to do is to give adequate support to security operatives, especially the police. The police have been neglected for long, what we are experiencing today is as a result of the neglect.
We need to learn from what is happening in the United States of America which is a result of the laws allowing citizens to carry firearms. Ours will be far worse than what is experienced in the US if such is permitted here. The best way to curtail the loads of insecurity bedevilling the country is to empower security operatives. I am not in support of what the governor is saying.
The Zamfara Government is not the only one that has made this call; the Benue and Katsina state governors also called for self-defence. Isn’t this an indictment on the police and other security agencies?
I will say it is a case of desperation to secure the lives and property of their residents and because they couldn’t get enough help from the right quarters, they have resorted to this. Simply put, they want their people to be protected and they are not getting it. That is why they are asking residents in their various states to take up arms.
The argument has been that lack of resistance from victims has emboldened the criminals. Kindly react to this, given your knowledge and expertise.
By the time you legalise the use of firearms, you won’t be able to know what other people will use them for. A man and his wife can start having a quarrel and all of a sudden the husband will bring out his firearm and shoot his wife. Also, a person with a firearm can get drunk and start shooting at people on the main road or somebody who has offended him before. We have to be very careful.
Instead of this, let every state create a security outfit. This will allow each state to handle its security problems in their best way than what we have now. But in the long run, we need state police to effectively secure our states.
We have constabularies, Amotekun and the likes. Won’t this strain our limited resources?
All these ones are not as effective as having a state police. I was in the Nigeria Police Force and I know everything from the beginning to the end. Let the states have their police; it is as simple as that. The creation of state police is not possible for now. I don’t know why the Federal Government is still holding on to the control of the police. Where we copied our democracy from, universities have their own police not to talk of the state and local governments. Why should our own be different? I believe this was caused by the long military rule in the country. There’s little or nothing we can do until states are given the power to create their own security agencies, especially the police, to handle their security issues better.
There are fears that governors may have too much influence on the state police if it is eventually established. Do you agree with this?
That is not the true case. There should be laws where the powers of the governor will be reviewed. The laws can be made in such a way that the influence of the governors will be limited. We should not be too worried about this. When we get to that stage, we will know how to do it.
Since it is not feasible to have a state police, what other measures will you suggest?
I read in the papers that Oyo State has given approval for recruitment of 500 personnel into the South West Security Network. If every state is allowed to employ at least 500 persons, you can imagine how many we will have at the end of the day. That will help a great deal. The recruitment will help to complement the efforts of the men of the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies.
For example, police recruit 10,000 personnel yearly, and out of these, police give some of them out to VIPs instead of allowing them to perform their constitutional duties. Some of them too, because of benefits they would derive, they stay with the VIPs and forget about their constitutional duties.
Do you agree that the Amotekun Corps should be armed with sophisticated weapons?
They are entitled to it. The Civilian Joint Task Force in Borno and Yobe states are equipped with sophisticated weapons. I don’t see why the Amotekun Corps should not be equally equipped. The only thing they need is to train them on how to handle them.
The Zamfara State Government claimed the state was peaceful for nine months after negotiating with the bandits. Do you think the government should broker a deal with the bandits for permanent peace?
I don’t subscribe to negotiating with criminals. If they do this, more bandits will now come up and every criminal group will want money from the government. Let the security agencies be equipped to confront the bandits. Let them use the money to equip the security agencies, it will help them to flush the criminal elements out of the state. Government needs to do three things: invest heavily in surveillance equipment which should be deployed in border communities to monitor movement within and outside the country. This will help the security operatives to arrest criminals trying to make it into the country. Second, let the government increase the manpower in the Nigeria Immigration Service and the Nigerian Customs Service. These services need more hands. Also, we need to have an understanding with neighbouring countries to offer some form of assistance.
Our forests have become safe haven for terrorists and other criminal elements. What do you think can be done to claim them back?
In the past, we had forest guards who effectively ensured that our forests were safe. Although we still have them, they have more or less gone into extinction. We need to employ more and ensure that they are fully armed to rid our forests of criminal elements.