Between Hisbah And State Police


The agitation for state police and the debate it has generated will not cease despite the hypocritical stance of the northern governors over the issue. These same northern governors who nurse a morbid fear for state police are the same people who formed Hisbah to enforce Sharia, the Islamic legal system.

Hisbah is Sharia police who enforce the Sharia law in some parts of the north such as Kano. But Hisbah does not police  Sharia alone. Whether you are a Muslim or a Christian in a state where Sharia law is applicable, Hisbah can arrest you. If this is not state police by another name, what then is it?

As has been said time and time again, state police cannot be wished away. The thinking by those who do not want state police because state governors would use them to victimise political opponents is puerile and holds no water whatsoever. Making allusion to the case in the 50s when state police was abused amounts to begging the issue because in this 21st century, with social media and all forms of enlightenment, it is not possible for any state governor to use state police to witchhunt his opponents. If rights activists and nongovernmental organizations cannot stop such a dictatorial state governor, the pressure from social media will keep the governor in check.

The Parry Osayande-led Police Reform Committee shortchanged Nigerians by kicking against state police. It was a self-serving decision. The same Osayande heads the Police Service Commission that has nothing to offer the police in spite of the huge budget it controls. That is why the police depend on handouts by state governors to do their job.

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Nigeria is too large to be left in the hands of a centralised police structure. It is this omnibus arrangement that has made it extremely difficult to confront the security challenges that have ballooned beyond control across the country.

Since Nigeria is operating a federal structure with states as federating units, isn’t it a mockery of the system to say states cannot have their own police force? Why can’t we take a cue from the United States of America where even the lowest tier of government has its police?

No matter what those kicking against state police say, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Northern governors’ phobia for state police and their claim that it is capable of destabilising the country are unfounded and a figment of their imagination. Nobody can wish away state police. At the fullness of time, it will be established.

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