The House of Representatives has passed for second reading, a bill seeking to amend the 1999 Constitution to allow the creation of state police and legalise regional security outfits.
According to the bill, the current police system will be decentralised by moving police from the Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent List.
Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Onofiok Luke, who sponsored the bill, said in the explanatory note that the bill seeks to alter the Constitution “to provide for state police and other state government security services to enhance security and preservation of lives and properties in Nigeria”.
The bill especially proposes an amendment to Section 197(1) by inserting new Paragraphs ‘e’ and ‘f’ to provide for ‘State Police Council’ and ‘State Police Service Commission,’ respectively.
The Second Schedule to the Constitution will also be altered in Part I by deleting Item 45 from the Exclusive Legislative List; and in Part II by inserting after Item 30 on the Concurrent Legislative List, new Items 31 and 32.
The proposal reads, “(31) The National Assembly may make laws for the establishment of the federal police and other federal government security services;
“(32) A House of Assembly may make laws for the establishment of state police and other state government security services.”
The Third Schedule to the Constitution will also be altered by inserting new Paragraphs 9 to 12
The new paragraphs read, “(9) A State Police Council shall comprise the following members: (a) the governor, who shall be the chairman; (b) the chairman of the State Police Service Commission; and (c) State Commissioner of Police.
“(10) The functions of a State Police Council shall include (a) the organisation and administration of a State Police Force and all other matters relating thereto (not being matters relating to the use and operational control of the Force or the appointment, disciplinary control and dismissal of members of the Force); (b) the general supervision of a State Police Force; and (c) advising the governor on the appointment of State Commissioner of Police.”
Leading debate on the bill, Luke said that the bill was of utmost importance because of the plethora of insecurity cases besetting the nation. “Granted that there is no society without crime or manifestation of criminal behaviour, our inability to bring to the barest minimum crime is a scathing indictment on the current security architecture and structure in the country,” he said.
The Committee chairman mentioned that the country, the country is “grossly under policed”. According to the United Nation’s recommendations, with our 200 million population, Nigeria’s current 400,000 strong squad is 100,000 below the recommended ratio of 1 police per 400 citizens.
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The Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu, stated that the creation of state police is long overdue with the current security crises across the country.
Okechukwu said, “This bill is germane. About an hour ago, we observed a minute silence for our people; for the citizens of Nigeria who were killed in Kaduna. In addition to that, my colleague, Hon Barde, also moved a motion to ensure the rescue of 140 pupils – children – who were going to school that were taken in Kaduna. We have had situations in this country that ordinarily, this issue of state police should have been addressed a long time ago.”
The House had earlier on June 9, 2021, approved a bill to amend the 1999 Constitution to recognise security outfits created by states to complement the Nigeria Police Force in the effort to protect lives and property.
Already, several states and geopolitical zones have established vigilante groups and security outfits with various codenames.
Prominent among them is the South-West Security Network Agency, popularly called Amotekun, which has chapters across the six states in the zone.
The joint security and vigilante network in the South-East is codenamed, Ebube Agu. There is the religious Hisbah in Kano State and the Civilian Joint Task Force in states in the North-East.
Lagos State has the Neighborhood Safety Corps, and Benue State has Livestock Guards.