Lawmakers Put All Hands on Deck to Tackle Insecurity

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Udora Orizu writes that with the spate of killings in the country, lawmakers have put all hands on deck to tackle insecurity

With the increasing spate of killings going on in the country, it seems Nigeria security has collapsed with no tangible solution to solve the insecurity issues currently bedevilling the country.

Nowadays, it is very hard to keep up with the mindless killings going on around the country. From havocs wreaked by Boko Haram insurgents in the North-East and Fulani herdsmen attacks, to violent crimes like armed robbery, assassinations, cultist killings and kidnappings, it’s clear Nigeria is going through one of the greatest security challenges since its independence in 1960.

The United Nations last year lamented over the spate of killings in Nigeria noting that over 1,400 people have been killed as a result of kidnapping and banditry within a period of six months.
The UN Country Director, Edward Kallon disclosed this in Makurdi, Benue state at a meeting with Governor Samuel Ortom.

A tally by Amnesty International put the death toll from herdsmen attacks alone in January 2018 at 168, it said 549 deaths came from herders hands in 2017. Also recently Boko Haram fighters invaded Garkida town in Adamawa state around 7 pm shooting sporadically, killing many people while burning down several houses and property.

The height of insecurity in the land clearly showed that the Service Chiefs are not doing enough to curb the menace and this has brought about the calls by lawmakers for their sack or resignation.

The National Assembly recently raised an alarm over the rising spate of insecurity in the country. Members of the upper and lower legislative chambers had on two different occasions urged President Buhari to sack the Service Chiefs and National Security Adviser.

As the President is yet to act on the lawmakers resolution to sack service chiefs, some lawmakers on their part are seeking ways to help security agencies tackle insecurity.

The lawmakers have done this through the enactment of certain bills that will aid the security agents carryout their duties more efficiently and effectively.

During plenary at the House of Representatives recently the lawmakers passed for second reading a bill which seeks special support fund for Armed Forces.

The bill seeking to create a five-year funding plan for Nigerian armed forces,
aside their annual budgetary allocations,
in their fight against insecurity, scaled second reading and was subsequently referred to the Committee on Defence by Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, for further legislative action.

The bill was jointly sponsored by the Chairmen of House Committees on Defence, Babajimi Benson; on Army, Abdulrazaq Namdas; on Police Affairs, Bello Kumo; on Deputy Chairman, Committee on Defence, Makki Yalleman; on Air Force, Shehu Koko; on Navy, Yusuf Gagdi; and on National Security and Intelligence, Shaban Sharada.

It was proposed in the draft that the bill would be funded with an amount constituting one per cent of the total money accruing to the Federation Account; 0.5 per cent of profit made from investment of the National Sovereign Wealth Fund by the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority; an amount constituting one per cent of Value Added Tax remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

Leading debate on the Bill, Benson said no nation rely wholly on its annual budget for the armed forces to combat crimes and fight insecurity.

He stated that while Nigeria is fighting a war, the Armed Forces did not have enough resources to prosecute the war.

The lawmaker explained that the alternative source of funding is expedient especially with the recent security challenges in the country, adding that national security is of utmost importance to the growth and development of any nation.

He advised that no security threat should be treated with levity.

According to him, “Nigeria has witnessed diverse and unprecedented level of insecurity in the recent times in which the Nigerian Armed Forces have been fully involved. They include curbing the menace of kidnappings, robbery, herder-farmers clashes, protection of the nation’s oil resources in the Niger Delta, banditry in the Northwest and most of all, the lingering boko haram insurgency in the Northeast. This is apart from other security issues like cultism, oil bunkering, cattle rustling, piracy and smuggling that the Armed Forces are usually summoned to help contain.

“In the last fifteen years, the Nigerian military have been involved in thirteen operations and four exercises. Coping with all these are, no doubt, an enormous task that requires a robust, well-trained, well-equipped and efficient Armed Forces.

“On the external front, Nigeria is contending with the international dimension and view of domestic insurgency as well as drug and human trafficking, illegal immigration and movement of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW).”

Supporting the Bill, “The Deputy Whip, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha said the bill would change the narrative on the fight against insecurity.

Nasiru Ali on his part suggested that the parliamentarians should contribute part of their salaries to fund Nigerian Armed Forces.

Also Mohammed Tahir Munguno said the army needed special funding to be able to fight the battle against terrorism because no nation on earth funds its security through budgetary allocation, citing Brazil and America as examples.

In similar vein, Recently a Bill for an Act to Repeal the Police Act and enact Nigeria Police Bill passed second reading in the House of Representatives.

The Bill seeks to provide the framework for the police services and ensure cooperation and partnership between the police and communities in maintaining peace and combating crime and sundry acts of insecurity in Nigeria.

The Legislation titled, ‘A Bill for an Act to repeal the Police Act CAP P19 laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and to enact the Nigeria Police Act, 2019 to Provide for the Framework for the Police Services and ensure cooperation and partnership between the police and communities in maintaining peace and combating crime and for related matters,’ was sponsored by Hon. Yusuf Adamu Gagdi.

The sponsor of the Bill, Gagdi while leading debate on the Bill, said the present Police Act is not only fraught with deficiencies, but strangely, the major organization, duties, and powers of the Nigeria Police, as stipulated in the present Act, have largely remained as set out in 1943 police Act.

He stated that it is the recognition of the inherent shortcomings in the extant law and the seemingly intractable challenge of insecurity in the country, necessitated the proposed repeal of the existing Act and the enactment of a new legislation.

Gagdi explained that the passage of the Police Trust Fund Bill, which was recently assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari may not achieve the level of effectiveness and outcome desired without the total overhauling the existing legislation, except there is a concomitant amendment to the extant Act of the Nigeria Police Force.

Listing out the objectives of the Bill, the lawmaker said the extant Nigeria Police Act has neither general or specific objectives.

He noted that the new bill will provide for a more efficient and effective police services that is based on the principles of accountability and transparency as well as, protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

According to him, “The security of life and properties of citizens and residents remains one of the primary purposes of the government, everywhere. The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), in Section 14 (2) (b) indeed states that: “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of the government. Yet, the spate of insecurity and criminality in Nigeria has remained not only alarming, but unrelenting. Violent crimes, such as terrorism; kidnapping; armed robbery and banditry; suicide bombing; ethno-religious kilings,election violence and so on have characterized daily living in Nigeria.”

“Another deviation from the extant Police Act is the amendment proposed in respect to the appointment, removal of the Inspector General of Police. This amendment was the one that became contentious especially in the view of the 8th House of Representatives. In response to the lacuna in the present law on the functions of the IGP, a clause is inserted in this new Bill to clearly state the limit of the powers and functions of the IGP and thus improve accountability.”

“Another amendment has to do with the tenure of office of IGP, A 5 year was recommended for each IGP to address the challenges of non-committal for the IGP to effect meaningful changes due to the usual short tenure of most IGPs. For instance, since 1999, there have been 10 IGPs, including the present one, This is an average of 2 years per IGP. Provisions relating to the removal of a serving IGP are so crucial, that they have also been inserted in this new Bill.”

Debating further, Gagdi said the legislation also provides for the establishment of Community Police Forums and boards by the Commissioner of Police of each State that shall consist of representatives of the police Force and the local community in the state traditional rulers.

He also said the new Bill has equally proposed to increase the number of persons that have a say in assigning of Commissioners of Police to the different states of the Federation to include the state governors and the Minister of the FCT.

In order to address the prevailing issues of gender discrimination in and by the police, the lawmaker said a clause prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender in the Nigeria Police Force and by the Forces has been deliberately inserted in the new Bill.

The above, according to him, is a paradigm shift from the traditional police system to a community-participatory system of policing, adding that the Bill deserves urgent attention as it leverages the existing legal gap in the extant law which as resulted in administrative bottlenecks and the general poor policing and heightened insecurity across Nigeria.

QUOTE:

The bill was jointly sponsored by the Chairmen of House Committees on Defence, Babajimi Benson; on Army, Abdulrazaq Namdas; on Police Affairs, Bello Kumo; on Deputy Chairman, Committee on Defence, Makki Yalleman; on Air Force, Shehu Koko; on Navy, Yusuf Gagdi; and on National Security and Intelligence, Shaban Sharada