Former Governor of Abia state, Orji Uzor Kalu has voiced support state police describing it as a lifelong advocacy that he had championed since he was governor from 1999 to 2007.
According to Kalu, he experimented with the model by providing support to the “Bakassi Boys”, a local vigilante group while he was governor. During this period, many parts of the East including Aba, Onitsha, Owerri were under the siege of armed robbers, kidnappers and other cult groups.
“State policing is what I called since 1999. That was after three months that I was elected as Governor. I said there was a need for state policing and I was the first Governor in Nigeria who supported state policing.
“Having been governor for three months, that was precisely September 1999, I said there was need for state policing and that was the only way to stop armed robbery. When we were in Abia, we were able to stop armed robbery operations because we have collaboration with the Bakassi boys and the Police. We should have the Federal police like the FBI and all the rest of them, so that they can handle all the serious issues while the state police will handle local issues.
“State police should be able to handle local issues. It will be very difficult for anyone to use state police to intimidate aggrieved political opponents.
“The state Police Commissioner should not be appointed by the Federal Government, but should be directly elected by the people .
“State police will not be anybody’s stooge , sincerely state police will be part of the ingredients that will complement Nigeria’s unity and democracy.
”Let me sound a warning to Governors that will use state police for their own selfish end, because the laws are not so strong .
”The laws of Nigeria should become strong , we should not be above the law. The beauty of any country is the independence of its judiciary, absence of such independence is arbitrariness, it is a dead end .
”Whenever there is recklessness of the executive arm of government or rascality of the National Assembly , the judiciary serves as a check. Our judges should stand up to defend democracy and people’s right.”
The Bakassi Boys are an inappropriate model for state policing. It is ridiculous to even suggest such a model. The vigilante group were often found guilty of gross human rights abuses including extra-judicial killings and intimidation of innocent people. Without proper background checks, some of the Bakassi boys were themselves involved in criminal activity and became pawns in the hands of powerful figures.