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Senate: Parliament Ready To Legislate On State Police If It Will Address Current Challenges

It said Nigerians will determine if a parliamentary system will of government will replace presidential system of government.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Yemi Adaramodu, on Friday, said both chambers of the National Assembly are ready to amend the nation’s constitution to accommodate state police if the decentralisation of the country’s security architecture would end kidnappings, banditry, terrorism and other crimes being experienced in Nigeria.

Adaramodu stated this while addressing journalists in Abuja on Friday.

This was just as security experts, Civil Society Organisations, (CSOs), and Nigerian Federalists, have commended President Bola Tinubu and the 36 state governors for considering to push for a legislation that would lead to the creation of State Police.

Tinubu on Thursday met with state governors in Abuja, during which they considered the possibility of setting up state police which is against what is contained in the nation’s constitution that placed it on the exclusive legislative list.

Equally, a bill seeking to effect a change in the system of governance of Nigeria from the present presidential to parliamentary system passed through the first reading on the floor of the House of Representatives on Wednesday. Titled, “The Bills Proposing Constitutional Alterations for a Transition to Parliamentary System of Government”, the bill was sponsored by 60 Members of the House of Representatives led by Hon. Wale Raji (APC) representing Epe Federal Constituency in Lagos State – and 59 others.

At a press conference that was later addressed by Hon. Abdulssamad Dasuki from Kebbe/Tambuwal Federal Constituency, Sokoto State, the sponsors of the bills asserted that the presidential system that was used to supplant the parliamentary system ran in the First Republic meant an, “adoption of a new system of government, theoretically fashioned after the presidential system of the United States but in practice, imbibed the uttermost attributes of military rule”.

Speaking further, Adaramodu said the constitution review committees of the red chamber would soon be inaugurated for the purpose of amending some aspects of the nation’s laws.

He noted that the Senate was ready to read the body language of Nigerians and come up with laws that would make lives meaningful to them.

Adaramodu said, “The parliament is to make laws and the laws that the parliament will make will not be generated outside of the interest and aspirations of Nigerians.

“So, if either the federal government or the state governors or whoever wants state police, so be it. We are ready to review our laws to accommodate it.

“The Senate is about to inaugurate the constitution amendment committee and then when we now put the panel  in place, members will now go out there and meet up with all the critical stakeholders in Nigeria within the sectors, traditional rulers and so on and so forth.

“So, when they now meet and then we aggregate and we know that this is what Nigerians want; that is the law that we are going to make.

“Our laws would represent what the people want and it must be the people’s law. Once it is going to be the people’s law, whatever kind of police that we want in Nigeria that Nigerians want that is what the National Assembly will give to them.”

Adaramodu, however, said the state houses of assembly and the governors would still have a crucial role to play because at least 24 out of the 36 states of the federation must vote in support of any amendment to the constitution before it could be signed by the President.

He explained, “Still on Constitution amendment, we need 24 states of the federation to concur with us. So it does not end up with the National Assembly.

“Although it starts from the National Assembly, it will still go to the states before it comes back to the National Assembly for further legislative process before it will go to the presidency for assent. So it is not a one-way lawmaking.

“So, as Nigerians are desirous through their governors and then the presidency that Nigeria policing must be rejigged then we have to find something to do about it so that we can ensure that there is peace in our land.

“Definitely we are going to follow suit. By the time our committee which the Senate President will be putting together soon will be inaugurated.”

On the Parliamentary system of government, he said the body language of Nigerians would determine the system of government the National Assembly would legislate on for the country.

He said, “We will look at the body language of Nigerians either in the Senate or in the House of Representatives and come up with bills and motions. So it is for bills and motions to be subjected to the crucibles of legislation, then what are the crucibles of legislation. It is after that that we now be talking about law or no law.”

Reacting to the proposal on Friday in Abuja, the Federalists, under the aegis of Coalition of Federalists for Good Governance (CFGG), through a jointly signed statement by its National Coordinator, Taiye Odewale and Secretary, Aisha Jibrin, said, establishing States and controlled police outfits, would address the dysfunctionality of the Nigerian federation in the area of security, which the existing over centralised security architecture has no answer for.

The group commended Tinubu and the 36 state governors for finally settling for the establishment of a State Police in Nigeria as obtainable in 24 other federations of the world.

“As a result of self-inflicted systemic dysfunctions afflicting the Nigerian Federation over the decades, the centre (federal government), is getting suffocated with challenges and responsibilities at hand, one of which is the security of the citizens and the country itself.

“We the Federalists, welcome the lofty idea of creating State Police in Nigeria at this very challenging time security-wise, and also, to correct one of the abnormalities of the over-centralised federation imposed on the country by the military from 1966 to 1999 which was supposed to have been corrected within the last 25 years.

“On the template of security, the abnormality in question are the conflicting provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which on one hand in section 2(2), declares Nigeria as a federation but on another hand in section 214, imposes a unitary or single policing on the country aside putting Policing on the exclusive list as against concurrent list of the constitution.

“Crime is local and can best be detected and fought at the grassroots by security outfits close to the locals like State Police and not endless security summits at the centre or endless hours of interactive sessions with heads of centralised security agencies by the National Assembly,” they stated.

Also reacting to the proposal, a Civil Society Organisation (CSO), Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), through a statement signed by its Founder, Okechukwu Nwanguma, said, historically, policing in Nigeria started as a local initiative and joint community action devoid of the coercion that characterises modern policing.

“Pre-colonial policing methods were rooted in the community. Customs and beliefs were enforced by such structures as ‘age grades’, secret societies, and vocational guilds (e.g. hunters, farmers, or blacksmiths). It is important to note that age grades (kinship organisations whose membership is based on a predetermined age range) still exist in many local communities.  Law and order were maintained largely without the use of force.

“Colonial police formations engendered a culture of police brutality. Colonial authorities used the police mainly to subjugate local communities, control dissent, and advance British political and economic agenda.

“At independence, Nigeria inherited the institutions and culture of the colonial police. The Military interrupted Nigeria’s democracy and bestrode Nigeria’s political space from 1966 -1999.

“Until 1966, regional and national police forces existed side by side. In 1966, the Nigerian military seized power and disbanded regional police due to corruption, poor training, low standards, and political partisanship.

“Regional police forces reflected the federalism of Nigeria. The resort to regional security networks such as Amotekun in the South-West, and similar other regional and state security outfits also reflects, not just the loss of confidence in the ability of the Nigeria police, as presently structured, to secure Nigeria, but more importantly, Nigeria’s federalism.  Therefore, States clamouring for state police also reflects the federalism of Nigeria.”

He therefore tasked the government to establish a committee to work out the modalities for the establishment of State police in states desirous of maintaining state police, “to recommend the framework and measures that should be put in place to address the concerns against state police.

Also speaking, Major General (rtd) Obashina Ogunbiyi noted, “I think it is a good step in the right direction because the people have been clamouring for that and in terms of aiding the security of the community.

“If parts of the community are policemen, they would be more familiar with people in the community and know who is who. It will aid in the dispensation of security for each state.

“The only challenge for that is that now the governor of the state will be the one that would determine what goes to who and who is what. But if we have honest leadership at the state level, that should not pose a challenge as such. But the advantages override the disadvantages.

“So, for me, I think it is a step in the right direction. And we used to have it before anyway when we had the constabulary in those days. So it is a very welcoming development.”

In his submission, Comptroller (Rtd), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Zone A, Lagos State Border Patrol Command, Chukwuemeka Patrick Pius Obua, noted that, in any community, the closest form of state presence is the closest way individual feel in the presence of government.

“To that extent, state policing is like a community checking itself. Now, if that is what policing is all about, to maintain law and order, to forestall and secure lives and properties of the people, then the police are just part and parcel of that society.

“You must differentiate the police from an army of occupation that we have presently whereby strangers, people who are not one with the community, people who do not share language, people who do not share culture, people who do not share a creed, people who do not share ethos are now brought in from nowhere to come and occupy and enforce and if possible go beyond that to begin to oppress the people.

“That is what we are having today and that is why the police are suffering in Nigeria and most African states. So, the police are an instrument of the oppressors in disguise.

“Our colonial masters, the British, set up the police as an instrument to wipe the indigenous people into line. The colonial masters set up the police to enforce their regime on the people. The police were not set up to benefit the indigenous people.

“They were set up to protect the British interests that rule over the people. When the colonial masters were leaving after independence was won in various West African colonies, the so-called nationalists inherited the instrument of oppression and power. That is why it seemingly has failed.”

On the fear of it being abused, Obua said, “There is no system under the sun that is not open to abuse. People who voice their opinions and express their fears are not saying that because they don’t want state police but are telling us to be mindful of how power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Chuks Okocha, Kingsley Nwezeh, Sunday Aborisade in Abuja, Segun James and Sunday Ehigiator in Lagos

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