Insecurity: State Police Bill Passes Second Reading

Juliet Akoje in Abuja

The House of Representatives yesterday passed through second reading, a bill seeking to alter the provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to provide for the establishment of state police.

The proposed legislation titled “A Bill for an Act to Alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to Provide for Establishment of State Police and for Related Matters (HB.617),” was sponsored by the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu and 14 other lawmakers.

Leading the debate, Hon. Tolani Shagaya, who is one of the sponsors of the bill noted that the primary purpose of government as enshrined in Section 14(2)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as altered) is the security and welfare of the citizens.

Shagaya further noted that in recent times, the nation’s collective security had been greatly challenged and state policing was not only inevitable, but urgently desired to tackle the mounting challenges of insecurity.

“The establishment of state police is a clarion call for a tailored, community-centric policing system; and an acknowledgment that our states are uniquely positioned to address the security challenges within their borders.

 “The transfer of ‘police’ from the ‘Exclusive Legislative List’ to the ‘Concurrent Legislative List,’ a move that effectively empowers states to have state controlled policing; the introduction of a comprehensive framework to ensure cohesion as well as accountability and uniform standards between the Federal Police and State Police; the provision of prescribed rigorous safeguards preventing unwarranted interference by the federal police in state police affairs, emphasising collaboration and intervention only under well-defined circumstances.

“The establishment of State Police Service Commissions as distinct from the Federal Police Service Commission with clearly defined roles and jurisdictions; a re-calibration of the National Police Council to include the Chairmen of the State Police Service Commissions, emphasising the collaborative and consultative nature of policing in our federal system, a recognition of the possible financial challenges which may be faced by states police, by empowering the federal government to provide grants or aids subject to the approval of the National Assembly, thus ensuring adequate resources for effective policing, etc.”

Furthermore, he stressed that the alterations proposed in the bill were not just alterations to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but also the building blocks of a more secure, accountable and resilient Nigeria.

Hon. Ahmed Jaha while contributing to the bill stated that the bill was timely as security is the responsibility of all and everybody’s business and that with community policing and Nigerian police working in tandem, they will rid communities of all forms of crime.

Also contributing, Hon. Awaji-Inombek Abiante noted that Nigeria has had enough of insecurity and establishing state police is a way to ensure that people can sleep with our eyes closed.

The bill when put to vote got the support of the majority of \ members and was later referred to the Committee on Constitution Review by the deputy speaker who presided over the session.

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