A move that may eventually lead to the creation of state police, as being canvassed by many Nigerians, has kicked off at the House of Representatives.
A bill, sponsored by the Leader of the House, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, which proposes state police, on Tuesday passed first reading at the Tuesday plenary of the lower chamber of the National Assembly presided over by Speaker Yakubu Dogara.
The bill which seeks an amendment of the 1999 Constitution by decentralising the Nigeria Police Force to accommodate state police, having passed first reading, will subsequently be debated on the general principles and second reading.
Chiefly, the bill seeks amendment of Section 214 (1) of the1999 constitution by deleting the phrase “and subject to the provisions of this section no other police force shall be established for the Federation or any part thereof” immediately after the word “force.”
The bill wants new sections 215 and 216 to be created by amending the existing sections 217 and 218 to spell out the structure and operations of the proposed state police.
The details of the bill are as follows: “217. (1) ‘There shall be a police force in each state of the Federation.
“(2) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution – (a) a state Police Force shall be organised and administered in accordance with such provisions as may be prescribed by an act of the State House of Assembly; (b) members of state police shall have such powers and duties as may be conferred upon them by law.
“218. (1) ‘There shall be – (a) a Commissioner of Police who shall be appointed by the Governor on the advice of the State Police Council from among serving members of the State Police Force;
(b) a Head of Police for each state of the Local Government Area of the State to be appointed by the State Police Service Commission.
“(2) The State Police Force shall be under the command of the State Commissioner of Police.
“(3) The Governor or such other Commissioner of the Government of the State as he may authorise in that behalf may give to the Commissioner of Police such lawful directions with respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order as he may consider necessary, and the Commissioner of Police shall comply with those directions or cause them to be compiled with.
“219. (1) Subject to the provisions of this constitution, the State House of Assembly may make laws for the further regulation and control of the State Police.
“The Principal Act is hereby amended by rearranging the existing sections 217 to 320 as sections 220 to 323.
“The Principal Act is hereby amended by deleting item 45 from the Exclusive Legislative List in part 1 of the second schedule of the Constitution.
“That the entire items on the Exclusive Legislative List in part 1 of the second schedule of the Constitution are hereby rearranged and renumbered as items 1 to 67 with the exclusion of the deleted item under this Bill.”
Also proposed in the bill is the amendment of the constitution by creating a new section 21 in part 2 of the Second Schedule to give powers to state Houses of Assembly to create state police commands.
Section 21 reads, “(1) The National Assembly may make laws for the federation or any part thereof with respect to – a. Police Force and other government security services in respect of anything pertaining to internal security and the maintenance of law and order in Nigeria; b. Regulation of ownership and control of Federal Police and other government security services.
“(2) A House of Assembly of a state may make laws with respect to: a. The creation, formation or/and establishment of Police Force and other security services in respect of any matter pertaining to internal security and the maintenance of law and order within that state and with regard to the enforcement of any law validly made by the House of Assembly of that state.
“b. Regulation of ownership and control of State Police and other State Government security services.
“The Principal Act is hereby amended by renumbering the existing sections 21 to 30 of part 2 of the second schedule of the constitution as numbers 22 to 31.
“This Bill may be cited as the Constitution of the Federal Republic on Nigeria (Alteration) Bill, 2018.”
The House at the day’s plenary also resolved to investigate last week’s killing of seven policemen in Abuja by unknown gunmen.
While the bill on state police passed first reading at the House, the Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution also on Tuesday met to prepare a bill to allow the creation of state and community police.
The chairman of the Senate committee, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, disclosed at the plenary earlier on Tuesday that the constitution amendment bill should be ready for presentation on Thursday.
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