Chairman of the Southern Governors’ Forum and Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, has issued a marching order for the Nigeria Police to “close shop” if the Federal Government could not meet its equipment needs.
He noted that the central police command was ineffective to keep Nigerians safe as shown in the rate of insecurity across the country.
The legal luminary, gave this remarks while delivering the keynote address at the ongoing meeting of Attorneys-General of the 36 States in Lagos, said state policing and restructuring of the country were imperative.
“The current spate of insecurity in the country leaves us with no room for equivocation on the right of the States to Maintain law and order through the establishment of State Police,” he said.
The governor said: “We will carry arms very soon. Oga Malami. There is no other way.”
The governor further challenged states to restructure the country by, among others, setting up their anti-graft agencies or Anti-Corruption Commission.
He argued that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, was a creation of and for the Federal Government of Nigeria only and not for the Federation of 36 states.
“If you have not done it (set up state anti-graft agencies) in your state, go and do it. Let the EFCC run after those who have infractions with the Federal Government, not states. We now use the EFCC to start pursuing even governors and you want to stay as if you are holier than everyone. You now use Federal Government agencies to oppress people in the states.
“So, go and promulgate your laws, establish your anti-graft agencies. We have done ours in Ondo State. Or else EFCC will continue to pursue you. Is it only in states that they steal? I’m not saying you should be stealing,” Akeredolu said.
Responding, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN) accused governors of greed by coveting local government revenue.
He questioned the governors’ moral ground for their agitation for restructuring and state police in the face of this “compromise”.
The AGF wondered whether “a state governor that colonised the resources of a local government, that renders a local government inefficient and ineffective in the performance of its duties, security and otherwise have a moral standing to now clamour and crave for restructuring against the backdrop of the inherent abuse associated with his conduct, with particular regard to the corporate existence of a state?
“A further question is whether a state governor that undermines the democratic process, that refuses to inaugurate members of the state house of assembly that were elected, equally stands a moral ground to clamour for restructuring against the backdrop of the fact that he does not believe in allowing the system to effectively and efficiently operate?
He also advised the AGs of respective states to perish the idea of establishing a body known as the ‘Body of Attorneys-General of the Federation’.
Malami said the name runs contrary to Section 150(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which established his office as the only AGF.
He said, “I have also observed the misnomer in the proposed name of the new body which you seek to float, that is, BODY OF ATTORNEYS-GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION. It is my considered view that this name conflicts with Section 150(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which established only one office of the Attorney General of the Federation.
Again, the AGF reacted to the controversial issue of the $418million Paris/London Club loan deductions and refunds which has pitted the states against the Federal Government.
The AGF said he had always held the position that state governors were attempting to draw back on the terms of an agreement reached with relevant stakeholders.
Malami maintained that the respective AGs and their governors should have adopted an out-of-court settlement with the FG rather than opting for a prolonged legal battle on an agreement they reached on behalf of their states.
Also speaking Governor Sanwo-Olu emphasised the importance of the office of the AG and encouraged the gathering to find legal ways to improve the Federal-states relationship.
“You know too well that in the constitution it is only the Attorney-General that the constitution says you should appoint.
“Once you have the Attorney-General with you, you don’t even need commissioners or special advisers again. So that goes to explain how important and how critical your roles are for us,” he added.
Governor Lalong, who was represented by Plateau State AG, Chris Ahmadu, narrowed down the issues.
“The issue of Value Added Tax should have been straightforward. As lawyers we know it’s not in the Exclusive Legislative List. So, how do we come to an arrangement where the states and the federal government will equally partake for the good of all?” he queried.