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Akeredolu, Malami differ on state police, restructuring

Chairman of the Southern Governors Forum and Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, has asked the Nigeria Police to “close shop” if the Federal Government could not meet its equipment needs.

Governor Akeredolu noted that the central police command was ineffective to keep Nigerians safe.

He gave this remark while delivering keynote address at the ongoing meeting of Attorneys-General of the 36 States in Lagos.

The Governor said restructuring and state policing 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.

“We will carry arms very soon. Oga Malami. There is no other way.” Governor Akeredolu said.

The governor advocate setting up of anti-graft agencies or Anti-Corruption Commission in various states.

He argued that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, was a creation of and for the Federal Government and not for the Federation of 36 states.

Responding, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami 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 noted.

The AGF advised the AGs of respective states to ignore the idea of establishing a body known as the ‘Body of Attorneys-General of the Federation’.

Mr 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.

Mr Malami 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.

Mr 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.

Lagos State Governor Sanwo-Olu explained that the importance of the office of the Accountant General 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. Governor Sanwo-Olu stated.

“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.

Reporting by Wahab Akinlade; Editing by Adeniyi Bakare