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Re-examining the legality of regional security outfits in Nigeria

Thaddeus Chukwuka Eze


Rising insecurity has become a challenge to the government and people of Nigeria. The magnitude of this problem has exceeded the coping capacity of the conventional security outfit in Nigeria. Although Nigeria is a federal state, the central government has always found the idea of a decentralized policing and security activities scary. This is not unconnected with the post-civil war mentality of ensuring the absence of coercive instrument of State do not get into the hands of people with centrifugal tendencies. However, insurgency and other forms of criminality has rendered these fears unwise at this time. The paper examines the constitutional and legal provisions for security of lives and property in Nigeria. The paper found that contrary to the widely held belief that policing and security is the exclusive preserve of the Federal Government, there are provisions within the Constitution and other laws that could enable regional security outfits to operate lawfully in Nigeria. Their effective operation however requires a measure of cooperation with the central government in view of the fact that arms and ammunition which constitutes the major weapon used in security operations is within the exclusive legislative list. The paper also found that the fact this cooperation is required does not make the establishment of security outfit by the States unlawful. In view of the enabling laws, the devolution of powers for the establishment of regional security outfit is inherent within the constitution.

Key Words: “Security”, “Law”, “National Development”, “Constitution”