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Clark flays Buhari’s rejection of state police

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Leader of Southern Nigeria and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) and former federal commissioner of information, Chief Edwin Clark, has criticized President Muhammadu Buhari over his rejection of state police, saying that the reason advanced is not tenable.

In a statement made available to the media on Monday, the foremost Ijaw nationalist observed that while the president is right on the potential abuse of the security apparatus by state governments, the federal government is also guilty of persecuting political opponents with federal police.

He said: “Mr. President dismissed the call for State Police in the Country. He said that State Police was not an option, that Governors will misuse it. He gave an unrelated instance of the relationship between State Governors, and Local Governments, that there is no functional Local Government in the country.

“While the President is right that no Local Government in this country truly functions as provided by the Constitution, not even the joint account under which State Governments receive monies on behalf of the Local Governments, because the accounts are fully controlled by the State Governors, it is not enough to dismiss the demand for a state police.”

Citing Sections of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution. Section 214 (1) dealing with the setting up of Nigerian Police force and its use, Clark submitted that the provision does not portray tenets of a Federal system of government, but a Unitary Form of Government, “Hence the 1999 Constitution is rejected by democratic Nigerians who believe in a Federal System of Government. In a similar manner, Section 215 (4), does not really contain the ingredients of a Federal system of government.”

He reiterated that State Police is a popular agitation by Nigerians and was robustly discussed and agreed upon during the 2014 National Conference.

Clark added: “It is very unfortunate that the State Governors who are elected under the party are the ones running the party today. But it is unconstitutional and authoritative for Mr. president to say that State Police, which was even recommended by the El-Rufai Committee as one of its items under Devolution of Power to be transferred from the Executive List in Schedule 1 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, to Schedule II of the Concurrent List, should be discarded.

“I totally agree with Mr. President that most State Governors have undermined the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, where Local Government is provided for under Section 8. They do not only abuse the joint account system but also engage in establishing Care Taker Committees, rather than conducting the free, fair, and democratic election as provided in section 7(1) of the Constitution which states:

“The system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is under this Constitution guaranteed; and accordingly, the government of every State shall subject to Section 8 of this Constitution, ensure the existence under a law which provides for the establishment, structure, composition, finance, and functions of such Councils.”

“I also agree with Mr. President that State Police could be used by State Governors in persecuting perceived political opponents, but it is also true that the Federal Government is also using the Nigeria Police Force to persecute perceived political opponents, undermining the NASS and obstructing free speeches. But that does not mean that the whole idea of State Police should be discarded? That will mean throwing away the baby with the bathwater.”

Speaking on the restructuring of the country, the elder statesman noted that the exercise is a must for the country to survive.

He explained: “Also, restructuring of Nigeria is a must if Nigeria is to survive as a country. It is very cruel and disappointing to hear Mr. President say that ‘he does not know what type of restructuring Nigerians want.’

“This is very insincere and dishonest because President Muhammadu Buhari has been preaching restructuring since his 2011 campaign, when he contested with our respected Pastor Tunde Bakare, as his running mate, and when our late golden boy, Comrade Yinka Odumakin was his spokesman, and who preached restructuring until his death, and for which he became one of the greatest critics of President Muhammadu Buhari due to his (Buhari’s) failure to accept the restructuring of Nigeria.”

He further said: “Restructuring of Nigeria was one of the major subjects of Mr. President’s party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Memorandum in 2015. But he dodged the subject when he was asked by the brilliant and intelligent personnel of Channels Television the question of restructuring by saying that it was a combination of political parties including CPC, ANPP, APGA, and CAN, that made him win the election.

“Is Mr. President saying that the APC manifesto did not sell to the public the issue of restructuring of Nigeria? I repeat again that when the drums of restructuring were booming in every part of this country and wise men were dancing to the tune, APC was forced to set up the Mallam Nasir El-Rufai Committee, to produce a report on restructuring. The committee was made up of 27 members including serving and former governors, senators, serving and former ministers, etc.”

Clark affirmed that the report by the APC committee headed by the Kaduna state governor exposed the insincerity of the president who said that “he does not know what kind of restructuring Nigerians want.”

The statesman further observed: “In every democracy, the President or Head of State is answerable to the people and not the other way round. Mr. President’s unholy alliance with the National Assembly (NASS), is like throwing a dagger on democracy. A situation where the NASS behaves as though it is an appendage of the Executive is very undemocratic.

“Truth and not lies are very essential in running a democratic government. The recommendation of the Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State Committee Report, which had already been accepted by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party, APC, under the then National Chairman and former Governor of Edo State, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, binds every member of the party, no matter the position anyone is holding until it is reversed at the party’s Convention.”

“There is a need for proper guidance, survival, and unity of the country. There is an urgent need to restructure this country and to have a new Constitution, produced by the people of Nigeria, as it was in 1963 when Nigerians negotiated for a Republican Constitution. Failure to do so will result in disintegration of this country, as a result of the serious insecurity all over the country,” Clark declared.

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