Ordinarily, some events may seem like isolated cases but many times the larger picture presents a different story. On May 4, 2012, Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde, the Principal Private Secretary of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the Edo State governor, was murdered in a gruesome manner. According to reports, Oyerinde was assassinated at his Benin residence in front of his family.
The murder was not only roundly condemned but several commentators had called on the police to fish out the assassins. Significantly, Oyerinde was murdered at the height of election campaign, when Oshiomhole was seeking a second term of office.
Without waiting for the police to conclude investigation, the Comrade Governor rushed to judgement, by accusing 'a certain old man in his 80s, a godfather in Edo State, of being the mastermind of the assassination of OlaitanOyerinde. Immediately, attention shifted to the ex-Minister of Works and former chairman of PDP's Board of Trustees(BoT), Chief Tony Anenih.
Oshiomhole did not mention any name but his body language and the said allusion, pointed at Anenih. Clearly, the former labour union leader was playing politics with his secretary's murder. And for emphasis, he shed tears when he made the wild and unsubstantiated remark. That was only a cheap political trick to draw attention.
Curiously, on January 10, the Edo State governor used the same tar brush on the Nigerian police. Point blank, he accused the police of complicity in Oyerinde's murder. Speaking during the launching of a new code of conduct for the Nigeria Police, Oshiomhole alleged that both the assassins and murder weapon were in police custody when Oyerinde was killed. Be this as it may, he concluded that the "police ordered the killing of my private secretary."
Oshiomhole then called for the dismissal of the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) in charge of criminal investigation perhaps without realizing that the DIG is the chief investigating officer in the country, totally disregarding all Police and civil service rules and regulations.
Apart from shifting blame from the PDP chieftain to the police, Oshiomhole was also the accuser, investigator, prosecutor and judge in his own case! In a democracy, our dear Comrade governor ought to know that this quadruple role is not possible for at least two reasons. First, the matter is before a competent court; why is Oshiomhole engaging in trial by media? He should allow the case to go the whole gamut instead of grandstanding and pointing accusing fingers at people and institutions.
Significantly, it is the judiciary that returned Oshiomhole's mandate to him, when he was robbed of his victory at the polls. Is he now saying that he no longer trusts the judiciary, after it helped in making him the governor of Edo State? We think Oshiomhole is not just playing to the gallery but acting a script of the agitators of the creation of state police.
It will be recalled that the issue of state police polarised the nation along regional lines in the recent past. While the Nigerian Governors' Forum supported the idea that each state should be allowed to run its own constabulary, the Northern Governors' Forum took exception to that.
At that time, alot of energy and valuable space and air time, in the print and electronic media respectively, were devoted to the merits and demerits of state police. First, proponents argued that the situation will make governors to be the effective chief security officers of their states. Unlike now, state police commissioners are only answerable to the Inspector General of Police, who is an appointee of the ruling party. For that reason, governors in the opposition and their police commissioners are sometimes on collision course, especially in matters relating to security.
However, northern governors, irrespective of their political parties, saw through this hollow argument. They not only opposed state police but advanced reasons why it should not be contemplated in Nigeria. They argued that the nation is under serious security challenge and allowing state governments unrestrained access to arms in the name of state police, will be counter productive.
More so, it will amount to using tax payers' money to fund ethnic militias and political thugs who will see the opposition as enemies of the state. Given the experience of Native Authority Police in the defunct northern Nigeria and the activities of separatist groups in the East and Niger Delta, the arguments against state police are overwhelming.
In any case, the state governments are always crying of lack of funds to deliver dividends of democracy to their electorate; how will they cope with the additional burden of state police? In addition, if the federal government is using the police to harass the opposition as erroneously claimed, it will be more difficult for the nation to contend with 36 centres of abuse in the name of state police.