LEADERSHIP has gathered authoritatively that the bill proposing the creation of state police will scale first reading in the House of Representatives next week.
Following the ceaseless killings of Nigerians and the rising fear of insecurity in the country, lawmakers in the House of Representatives have commenced the process of altering the 1999 constitution (as amended) so as to empower the 36 states of the federation to establish and control their own police outfits. Similarly, Senate President Bukola Saraki has met with Speakers of the 36 State Assemblies to seek their collaboration in the proposed amendment of the 1999 Constitution to make for the creation of State and Community Police as a means to end killings in the country.
The bill in the House of Representatives seeks to delete the power to make laws with respect to the creation, formation and control of the police and other government security services in Nigeria from the Exclusive-Legislative List, and grant to the state houses of assembly the power to enact laws with respect to policing.
Majority Leader of the House, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, in a letter dated Tuesday, July 3, addressed to Speaker Yakubu Dogara, proposed the amendment to provide for the creation of state police.
The letter reads, “Please find attached a copy of the proposed Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Amendment) bill 2018 to provide for the creation of State Police in Nigeria and other related matters. Kindly endorse for further processing.”
According to the letter, the bill seeks to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Cap. 23 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 to delete item 45 from the Exclusive-Legislative List, grant the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly the power to make laws with respect to the creation, formation and control of the police and other government security services in Nigeria.
The bill also seeks to alter Section 214 sub-section 1 of the Principal Act in line 2 by deleting the phrase ”and, subject to the provisions of this section, no other police force shall be established for the Federation or any part thereof” immediately after the word “force”.
The principal act is to be amended by creating new sections 215 and 216 as follows: (1) “There shall be a police force in each state of the Federation. (2) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution (a), a state Police Force shall be organised and administered in accordance with such provisions as may be prescribed by an Act of the State House of Assembly; (b) members of State Police shall have such powers and duties as may be conferred upon them by law.”
Also, a new Section 218 in the proposed amendment provides that the state governors shall appoint police commissioners on the advice of the State Police Council from among serving members of the State Police Force.
It says, (1) “There shall be -(a) a Commissioner of Police who shall be appointed by the governor on the advice of the State Police Council from among serving members of the State Police Force; (b) a Head of Police for each state of the Local Government Area of the state to be appointed by the State Police Service Commission. (2) The State Police Force shall be under the command of the State Commissioner of Police. (3) The governor or such other Commissioner of the Government of the State as he may authorise in that behalf may give to the Commissioner of Police such lawful directions with respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order as he may consider necessary, and the Commissioner of Police shall comply with those directions or cause them to be compiled with.”
The new Section 219, as proposed, empowers the state houses of assembly to make further laws for the regulation of the state police.
According to the proposed amendment, the Principal Act is thus amended by rearranging the existing sections 217 to 320 as sections 220 to 323, while item 45 is deleted from the Exclusive-Legislative List in part 1 of the second schedule of the Constitution.
Also, all the items on the Exclusive-Legislative List in part 1 of the second schedule of the Constitution would be rearranged and renumbered as items 1 to 67 with the exclusion of the deleted items in the Bill.
In the proposed bill, the principal act is amended by creating a new section 21 in part 2 of the second schedule as follows: “(1) The National Assembly may make laws for the Federation or any part thereof with respect to – a. police force and other government security services in respect of anything pertaining to internal security and the maintenance of law and order in Nigeria. b. Regulation of ownership and control of Federal Police and other Government security services.”
“(2) A House of Assembly of a state may make laws with respect to: a. The creation, formation or/and establishment of Police Force and other security services in respect of any matter pertaining to internal security and the maintenance of law and order within that state and with regard to the enforcement of any law validly made by the House of Assembly of that state. b. Regulation of ownership and control of State Police and other state government security services.”
Saraki Woos State Assemblies
Meanwhile, Senate President Bukola Saraki yesterday called on Speakers of the 36 State Assemblies to support the federal lawmakers’ move to amend the 1999 Constitution to provide for State and Community Policing in the country towards curtailing the rising insecurity in the country.
Saraki played host to the state lawmakers at the National Assembly, Abuja.
LEADERSHIP reports that the States’ Assembly Speakers were led by the chairman and Speaker of the Kebbi State House of Assembly, Hon. Abdulmumin Ismaila Kamba.
Kamba had earlier explained that their visit was to solidarise with and commend the leadership of the Senate, especially for passing the Bill on financial autonomy for state legislatures.
However, in a statement by the Special Assistant on Print Media, Chuks Okocha, Saraki stated that the issue of State and Community Policing in the country had become imperative due to rising security challenges.
He said: “You are all aware of the challenges we are currently facing in this country, particularly that of insecurity. There is no doubt that the security architecture of this country presently cannot meet the demands and challenges before it.
“One of the decisions we took today (yesterday) is to address the issue of State and Community Policing. In doing that, we gave our Constitution Amendment Committee two weeks to bring to the floor a Bill on State and Community Policing. The House of Representatives is also working along similar lines.
“We will send it to the States’ Assembly to seek your support. We believe that no responsible country or society can continue to watch helplessly as our people are being killed.
“We must appeal to our people that we must live in peace and harmony and we must be able to resolve our issues peacefully. As Speakers, I urge you to play your part,” he stated.
… Says Citizens’ Security, Welfare Key Essence Of Government
Meanwhile, Senate President Saraki has again condemned the senseless killings going on in some parts of the country, insisting that there is no justification for murder.
The country has witnessed a plethora of killings, including the recent massacre of over 200 residents in three local government areas of Plateau State.
When the news of the killings broke, Saraki joined prominent Nigerians to condemn it even as he called for an overhaul of the nation’s security architecture.
The Senate president personally visited Jos, the Plateau State capital, where he commiserated with the government and people of the state and condemned the killings in clear terms.
In a tweet on Monday via his twitter handle:@bukolasaraki, the Senate President declared that the killings were unjustifiable.
“The security and welfare of the people is the primary purpose of government. This is what the constitution we all swore to uphold says. At no time, whether in the past or in the present, is it okay to lose even one Nigerian life.”
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