Senate Backs State, Community Police

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• To Fast-track peace, reconciliation commission bill •Saraki asks lawmakers to remain focussed

Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The Senate yesterday reviewed the security situation in the country in the wake of recent massacre of over 200 people in Plateau State, with a resolution to amend the constitution to accommodate creation of State and Community Police.

It has therefore mandated the Constitution Review Committee headed by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, to come up with a draft amendment to the section of the constitution relating to state police  within two weeks.

Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, who summarised the resolutions of the Senate after an exhaustive debate on the level of insecurity in the country, said the upper chamber of the National Assembly, in condemning the recent mass killings in Plateau State, has directed the Ekweremadu-led committee to put machinery in motion towards amending the constitution to make room for state and community police.

While urging the Executive to overhaul its security apparatus towards providing adequate security for all Nigerians, the Senate also agreed to expedite action on the Police Reform Bill earlier presented before it went on recess in June, by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Police Affairs, Senator Abu Ibrahim(Katsina South).

The Senate further directed the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, headed by Senator David Umaru, to come up with a Bill for the creation of Truth, Peace and Reconciliation Commission, within two weeks.

The Senate also advised the Executive  to undertake the rehabilitation  of all displaced persons and communities in Plateau “while those who  sponsored and perpetrated the killings should be brought to book, no matter how highly placed the person is”.
Senator Jonah Jang (Plateau South), had earlier, under matter of national importance,  raised the issue of the recent killings in some part of his state.

He recalled that over 155 people lost their lives in Mangu and other neighbouring villages in Jos South and called on government to probe the killings and bring perpetrators to book.
Contributing, Ekweremadu, said the Plateau killings had clearly shown the inability of the police to address security challenges across the country.
He, therefore, reiterated his call for creation of state police as a way out adding that “ by tomorrow I will bring State Police Bill before the Senate.”

Other Senators like Ahmad Lawan(Yobe North), Adamu Aliero (Kebbi Central) and  Olamilekan Adeola (Lagos West) condemned the Plateau killings and canvassed for review of the country’s security apparatus.
Saraki had earlier implored his colleagues   to remain focused in carrying out their legislative mandates, despite  the forthcoming 2019 general elections.

He made the call while welcoming Senators from their three-week  break, adding that any divided attention in view of the pending elections would not be in the interest of the country.

“We must not be distracted. It is incumbent on us, therefore, to not allow politicking get in the way of our first duty to the Nigerian people, as Senators of the Federal Republic,” Saraki said
“On this note, I charge us all to fasten our seatbelts and power on with the work we have been tasked to do. Posterity is watching, and history will vindicate us if we do the job with diligence and in truth.”

According to him, though the Senate clocked three while on break, there was no celebration given the sombre mood of the nation.
“As we hit the home run, therefore, it is important we do not pack-pedal or slow down; we must intensify efforts towards doing all that we are sworn to do for the electorate that voted for us as their representatives,” Saraki said.

He also urged the Executive to expedite the release of funds for budget implementation, since the 2018 budget has been assented to “so that our people can begin to see the positive impact in their lives without delay.”
“The work is not done. We as the Senate must continue to exercise our oversight functions to ensure successful implementation and value for money,” he said.

“Naturally, we continue to work towards reforming the budgetary process. Clearly, it is necessary for the Executive and the Legislature to work towards a more robust engagement on the need for a better budget environment and process, going forward.”
He said despite the sterling achievements of the Senate in the past three years, it must be prepared to tackle all emerging national challenges and see to improvements in he security of lives and property in the country.

“We are resuming plenary today under a pall of national anxiety and apprehension over the state of insecurity in the country,” Saraki said.
“We have been alarmed at so many senseless killings of Nigerians, with the high number of casualties in Plateau being among the most egregious of late. Let me reassure Nigerians that we are as concerned as they are in the face of this challenge; and we continue to hold government accountable, in order to see to improvement in this area,” Saraki said