Committees of the National Assembly on the review of the 1999 constitution (as amended) had rejected the bill which seeks to create state police. One year after, security situation in the country has forced the lawmakers to reconsider the decision, ADEBIYI ADEDAPO reports.
Exactly one year ago, the committees of the National Assembly on the review of the 1999 constitution (as amended) connived to kill the bill seeking to create state police in the country.
Specifically, the House of Representatives declared that it would not consider the establishment of state police in the ongoing constitution amendment process.
Chairman of the House committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon Abdulrasaq Namdas, while responding to Leadership inquiry on the matter, said the bill may not be considered by the 8th National Assembly.
The House had in September 2016 passed the bill titled, ‘A Bill for an Act to Alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) to provide for the Establishment of State Police and to Ensure Effective Community Policing in Nigeria and for other related matters’ for second reading.
The bill as sponsored by the member representing Ibadan North federal constituency, of Oyo state, Hon. Abiodun Awoleye Dada, also seeks to replace the title of “Nigeria Police Force” with the “Nigerian Police Service” in the constitution.
The bill seeks to compel President Muhammadu Buhari or any incumbent president to establish State Police in all 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Awoleye who led debate on the general principles of the proposed bill, disclosed that there was an urgent need for an amendment to the 1999 Constitution to allow for the establishment of police departments by states.
He argued that the police, as presently constituted wasn’t strongly represented at the grassroots level, thereby making community policing strong on paper but weak in implementation. He noted that the global trend was to take policing close to the people.
The House however referred the bill to the special ad-hoc committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution for legislative consideration.
Meanwhile, while the the second prayer of the bill, which seeks to remove ‘Force’ from the nomenclature of the NPF survived the committee state and has eventually been passed by both chambers, the aspect seeking establishment of state police did not survive.
This development frustrated efforts of governors of the 36 states of the federation who had set up a committee to consider the workability of having state police in their various states.
Namdas, who defended the committees’ decision, said; “We are not considering the Bill on State Police at the committee on the review of the 1999 constitution, the over 20 items we are working on didn’t include State Police. We cannot solve all the problems at the same time, what we have agreed to treat at the committee level are the items we considered in Lagos.”
When asked if the legislature would consider it since state governors have set up a committee to that effect, Namdas explained that; “They are state governors, they can exercise their executive powers on this matter but at the legislative arms of government, we are not likely to consider it. We will leave it for another constitution review committee, maybe for the 9th Assembly to handle.”
One year after, the National Assembly is set to eat the humble pie, as the two chambers have ignited the process alter relevant section of the constitution to allow state and community policing. Consequently, Senate, has directed the Constitution Review Committee, chaired by Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, to come up with a draft amendment to the section of the constitution relating to state police and report back within two weeks.
The Senate also agreed to expedite action on the Police Reform Bill earlier presented before it went on recess in June by Chairman of the Senate Committee on Police Affairs, Senator Abu Ibrahim. The resolutions of the Senate were sequel to a motion by Senator representing Plateau South, Jonah Jang. Jang, had in a motion of urgent national importance and raised the issue of the recent killings in some parts of Plateau State, recalled that over 155 people lost their lives in Mangu and other neighbouring villages in Jos South, even as he called on the government to probe the killings and bring the perpetrators to book.
Meanwhile, Senator Ekweremadu in his contribution, said he would present a bill on state police.The Deputy Senate President noted that the Plateau killings had clearly shown the inability of the police to nip in the bud the security challenges facing the country.
He, however, reiterated his call for creation of state police as a way out, adding “ I have been saying it here anytime issues of senseless killings in the land come up that creation of state police is the way out since the centralized police have proved to be incapable of addressing the problem “By tomorrow (today) or next, a bill for constitutional provision for state and community policing , shall be sponsored by me in this chamber,” Ekweremadu said.
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, in his remarks however directed the Ekweremadu-led committee to put machinery in motion towards amending the constitution to make room for state and community police.
“The killings are totally unacceptable and we must condemn it in totality. These are acts of criminality and we should not encourage any other colouration to it, be it religious. This is criminality and as such, we have a role to ensure that we must address it
“We believe there is need for urgent review of the security architecture. We must not only see from the point of view that there is danger to security, there is also danger if we really believe that we are going to push our economy. As Senate, we must come up with our own action as well. Let us address the ones within our control. We also need to pay a visit to Zamfara.”
In the same vein, the House of Representatives has equally commenced the process to alter the 1999 constitution (as amended) so as to empower the 36 states of the federation to establish and control separate police force.
The bill seeks to delete power to make laws with respect to the creation, formation and control of Police and other Government security Services in Nigeria from the Exclusive legislative list, and grant to state houses of assembly the power to laws with respect to policing.
Majority Leader of the House, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila in a letter dated Tuesday, July 3, addressed to the 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 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 in section by creating new sections 215 and 216 as follows: 217. (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 maybe conferred upon them by law.”
Also, a new Section 218 in the proposed amendment provides that the state governors shall appoint commissioners on the advise of the State Police Council from among serving members of the State Police Force.
“218 (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 direction or cause them to be Compiled with”.
The new Section 219, a proposed, empowers the state houses of assembly to make further laws for the regulation of the State Police.
“219. (1) “Subject to the provisions of this constitution, the State House of Assembly may make laws for the further regulation and control of the State Police.”
According to the proposed amendment, the Principal Act is hereby 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.
The entire items on the Exclusive Legislative List in part 1 of the second schedule of the Constitution is hereby rearranged and renumbered as items 1 to 67 with the exclusion of the deleted item under this Bill.
The Principal Act is hereby amended by creating new sections 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.”
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