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Nigeria has history of decentralised policing, says Speaker Abbas

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The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Abbas Tajudeen, has made a strong case for decentralized policing in Nigeria on Monday, citing the country’s historical precedent of victorious regional police forces while speaking at the National Dialogue on State Policing in Abuja.

According to the PUNCH, Tajudeen emphasized the need for a policing model adaptable to Nigeria’s diverse contexts.

The speaker said, “The push for reforming our police forces is not merely desirable but necessary. We are at a stage where public trust in law enforcement is teetering.

“Also, the burden of policing the vast geographical expanse of our country and a rapidly expanding population warrants a reform of the current structure. The need for a system that maintains law and order and upholds every Nigerian’s dignity and rights cannot be overstated. Reform is essential to heal and to build – rebuilding trust, rebuilding effectiveness, and rebuilding our shared commitment to justice.”

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Tajudeen noted that decentralized policing is not new to Nigeria, as evidenced by the Lagos Police Force, Hausa Constabulary, and Niger Coast Constabulary during colonial times.

“Decentralised policing is not alien to Nigeria. Historically, during both the colonial and immediate post-colonial periods, Nigeria operated under a system where local police forces played significant roles in maintaining public order specific to their regions,” he said.

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This structure, he said, was maintained even after the merger of the Northern and Southern Protectorates, with the creation of the Northern Nigeria Police and the Southern Nigeria Police under the First Republic.

Tajudeen argued that whereas most Nigerians agree on the need to reform policing, “there is no agreement on how best to proceed with the reform or the best policing model for Nigeria.”

He emphasized that a one-size-fits-all solution does not exist and that Nigeria’s diversity requires an adaptable policing model. While acknowledging concerns about potential tyranny and misuse of police powers, Tajudeen stressed the need for caution and robust frameworks to address these fears.

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“However, we must proceed with caution. There is a palpable fear among our citizens – a fear of potential tyranny and the misuse of police powers if control is devolved to the State level. These concerns are not unfounded and must be addressed frontally, without bias or sentiments. This emphasizes the need for robust frameworks that ensure accountability, transparency, and equitable service delivery across all states.”

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