Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, has said the country will be better policed, the people better secured and crime reduced if the constitution allows the states to have their own police.
Amaechi said he has remained an apostle of the establishment of state police because of the experience of his administration, adding that the state has achieved much because of the dedication of the police and the armed forces in fighting crimes.
Declaring open the Rivers State Security and Technology Innovation Forum 2012 in Port Harcourt yesterday, Amaechi said his administration's investment in security was very huge.
"We are doing our best to secure the citizens of the country who are also resident in the state, 99 per cent of kidnapping and robbery cases in Port Harcourt, across Rivers State, we arrest. Our (Rivers State) investment in security is very huge, that is why I am an apostle of state police, because if you give us state police, we will do far better," he said.
Amaechi urged the Federal Government to fund the police and provide them with the necessary facilities to enable them combat crime across the country.
The State Chief Executive also said the state government had acquired two police security helicopters to provide 24 hours uninterrupted security network across the state.
Speaking further, the governor called for collaboration be the state government and the private sector to create employment opportunities for the citizens, which he explained, would reduce the spate of crime in the society.
"We must realise that one thing is necessary, government and the private sector must fight poverty, because if you don't create employment, jobs for the citizens, they will create their own jobs, so if we collaborate, the more jobs we create, the lesser the spate of crime in our society. So while we provide physical protection, we must also provide social protection, that is why we are pursuing free education, free healthcare, to reduce funding by parents on their children," Amaechi added.
Earlier in his speech, the Secretary to the State Government, Mr George Feyii, said the state was leveraging on its investment in two sectors by providing solutions to both business and government problems, and the responsibility of government to provide adequate security, and the welfare of its people.
Amaechi added that the security measures adopted by the state had paid off as it had reduced the incidence of robbery and kidnap cases in Port Harcourt by about 99 per cent.
He also said the state had spent $30 million (about (N4.5 billion) on the purchase of two helicopters to fight crimes.
His words: "99 per cent of both robbery and kidnap cases in Port Harcourt have been arrested. So we must congratulate the Nigerian Police, the armed forces; the police, the soldiers, air force and navy, some people don't know that robbery takes place on water. Our soldiers have been extremely wonderful."
"Our investment in security is huge and that is why I am an apostle of state police: if they give us state police we will do better because we have seen what the problems are. If the Federal Government wants to have police, it should have police; even if you don't want to clothe them give them the necessary facilities that can make their works easy.
"The Federal Government must fund police, it is not enough to give them uniforms and they are working on the streets and in a community where you have robbers carrying AK47. The police are overwhelmed by the number of crimes that are committed in the country."
He noted that the armed forces were not supposed to be involved in fighting crimes but said they had to be involved because of the level of insecurity in the country.
"By law, the Nigeria Army is not supposed to be seen on the streets, they are always supposed to be in the barracks, they can only fight when there is an invasion from outside. But if you see what they are doing, you can almost say insecurity is a state of war in Nigeria and they have to come out to help. All those who were saying that government should take away JTF in the past, if there was no JTF all of you would run," he said.
He said the forum was to showcase the state's technology and preparedness to combat crime, adding that: "We have enough technology to know where criminals are, what to do with them and how to go about it, so don't commit crime because we know who you are."
Amaechi also called for collaboration between government and the private sector in the fight against poverty, noting that joblessness was a major cause of crime.
"So we must as a people, both as private sector and government, create jobs for our people. The more jobs you create, the less the crimes that are committed in the society. So while we provide the physical protection, we must also provide social protection and that is why we are pursuing free education, free healthcare and all those programme that we want to pursue to reduce the funding that parents have to make on their children," the governor said.
He also called on the people to always pay their taxes as the state was spending much on security and the procurement of two helicopters.
According to him, "We hope that between now and January we will be able to provide helicopters with cameras that will be flying round the whole of Rivers state 24 hours. We have paid and they are due to arrive at the end of December. We need to employ the pilots and train all the other people that will work with them and integrate it with the military or the SSS.
"The job of the helicopter will be to just fly round Rivers state and as it is seeing we are also seeing in our offices. All these we are doing is to enable us have a secure environment.
"Finally, please pay your taxes. We need your money because these helicopters cost $30 million for the two of them and then we need to train pilots, we need to maintain them everyday until they achieve their purpose."