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State police bill passes second reading at House of Reps

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The House of Representatives on Tuesday, February 20, passed for a second reading, a bill seeking to amend the 1999 constitution to allow for the establishment of State Police.

The Nation reports that the bill sponsored by the Deputy Speaker and 14 other members was passed by the House and referred to the House Committee on Constitution Review amidst fear by some members that the state Governor may use them as a weapon of coercion and victimization.

Leading a debate on the bill, Tolani Shagaya (APC, Kwara) said the bill on state Police will bring back the essence of true federalism and put the states in a vantage position to address issues of insecurity in the country.

He said state Police will be better placed and prepared to handle the issues of insecurity in the various communities across the country and fight crime accordingly in the communities.

He said that at the moment, state Police existed in parts of the country in one way or the other such as Amotekun and Neighborhood Watch, adding that what the bill seeks to do was to give them legal backing and allow them to operate on the side of the law.

He said that in recent times, the nation’s collective security has been greatly challenged, adding that state policing is not only inevitable but urgently desired to tackle the mounting challenges of insecurity.

The lawmaker explained that 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.

Shagaya listed some of the key innovations of the proposed legislation including “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 and the introduction of a comprehensive framework to ensure cohesion as well as accountability and uniform standards between the Federal Police and State Police.

It also includes 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 as well as the establishment of State Police Service Commissions as distinct from the Federal Police Service Commission with clearly defined roles and jurisdictions.

It also includes a re-calibration of the National Police Council to include the Chairmen of the State Police Service Commissions, emphasizing the collaborative and consultative nature of policing in our federal system, a recognition of the possible financial challenges that 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.”

Shagaya added that the alterations proposed in the Bill are 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.

Supporting the second reading of the bill, Ahmed Jaha (APC, Borno) said the establishment of the Civilian Joint Task Force in Borno state helped a great deal in the fight against Boko Haram in Borno state, reducing their occupation to the barest minimum.

He said if the locals who will form part of the state Police are involved in policing the states, intelligence gathering will be much easier, adding that it is not the responsibility of the military to engage in internal security, but are now involved because of the failure of internal security measures.

While supporting the bill, Awaji-Inombek Abiante (PDP, Rivers) argued that Nigeria has had enough of insecurity and establishing state police is a way we can ensure that we can sleep with our eyes closed.

Aliyu Sani Madaki (NNPP, Kano) said even though he was party to those that killed the bill in the 7th and 8th Assembly on the basis that it can be used as a political tool by state governor, recent security situation in the country has made it necessary to have state Police.

Madaki said Nigeria was on fire and because of lack of security, adding that one of the ways to remedy the situation is to create employment for the people.

He said each state of the federation will be in a better position you check the rising insecurity, saying the country was in dire need of state Police at the point in its history.

But Sada Soli (APC, Katsina) and Bello Usman Kumo warned against the implications of having State Police, raising the fear of the use against perceived political opponents by the governors.

Sada Soli said that 21 states of the country are currently caught up in the quagmire of socio political and religious crisis, expressing the fear that in such states, state Police may not achieve the required desire.


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