BY ADAKU ADINDU in Abuja•
In what appears to give bite to the debate, a bill for an Act to alter the Nigerian Constitution and transfer the police from the Exclusive to Concurrent Legislative List and other matters related thereto will be introduced on the floor of the House of Representatives next week.
The Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has also called for collaboration of the 36 states’ assembly in the amendment of the 1999 Constitution to provide for state and community policing in the country.
This is coming as a former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar has thrown his weight behind the National Assembly’s decision to amend the constitution to provide for state police and community policing to deal with the current deteriorating state of insecurity in the country.
Sponsored by Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos), the Principal Act is amended in relevant Sections by creating new sections 215 and 216 to give powers to the states to have their police force.
Essentially, 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 the 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
According to the draft bill made available to the media, Section 217 of the constitution is amended to read that :“There shall be a police force in each state of the Federation.
“Subject to the provisions of this constitution: 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; members of state Police shall have such powers and duties as maybe conferred upon them by law.”
Section 218. (1) Reads: “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 authorize 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”.
Furthermore, Section 219 of the draft bill stated that; (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”.
Continuing, it stated: “The Principal Act is hereby amended by rearranging the existing sections 217 to 320 as sections 220 to 323. The Principal Act is hereby amended by deleting item 45 from the exclusive Legislative list in part 1 of the second schedule of the Constitution.
“That 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. Creating new sections 21 in part 2 of the second schedule as follows hereby amends the Principal Act:
However, it continued that: “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.
“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.”
Gbajabiamila had through a letter on July 3, sought the endorsement of House Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, on the draft bill for further processing.
Meanwhile, Atiku has commended the National Assembly for its decision to amend the constitution and formally provide for state police and community policing in the country.
He has also condoled with families and colleagues of the seven police officers who were killed by bandits in Abuja in the line of duty.
Atiku said the lawmakers, by their action, had demonstrated courage in seizing the initiative to intervene in the country’s security crisis. Citing the massacres in Zamfara, Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Adamawa and Kaduna States and the murder of seven policemen in Abuja while on active duty, the former vice president noted that decisive action is needed to address the current security challenges.
According to him, given the seeming despair and helplessness of the citizens in the face of frequent deadly attacks, the National Assembly has a responsibility to give legal backing to the creation of state police and community policing in the country.
Atiku called on Nigerians to support the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly in this bold decision to amend the constitution to create state police and community policing.
He extended his condolences to the families and colleagues of the seven policemen killed in Abuja in the line of duty.
In a related development, Saraki has called for collaboration of the 36 states’ assembly in the amendment of the 1999 Constitution to provide for state and community policing in the country.
Saraki spoke while receiving in audience the 36 States Assembly Speakers, led by its Chairman and Speaker of Gombe State House of Assembly, Hon. Abdulmumin Kamba, who were on a ‘thank you’ visit to leadership of the Senate, for passing the bill which granted financial autonomy to state legislatures.
He stated that state and community policing in the country has become imperative due to rising security challenges.
Saraki 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 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.
Earlier, Kamba, said they were at the National Assembly to thank the leadership of the Senate for passing the State Assembly Financial Autonomy bill which has been signed into law.