The House of Representatives has passed a bill amending the 1999 Constitution to allow the construction of state police and the legalization of regional security outfits for a second reading.
By transferring police from the Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent List, the current police system will be decentralized.
The bill’s sponsor, Onofiok Luke, chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, stated in the explanatory note that it intends to amend the Constitution “to provide for state police and other state government security agencies to promote security and preserve 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, “Many years after independence, Nigeria has continually been beset with insecurity ranging from terrorism, kidnapping, armed robbery and domestic violence. 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.
“The federal structuring of our security does not encourage community policing or localisation of policing. Recruitment and subsequent deployment of police officers in their local area is one of the major ways of curbing crime. Such officers understand the area, terrain, language, behaviour and attitude of the people he or she is policing.
“Nigeria, a country with over 201 million people, is grossly under policed with about 400, 000 police personnel. This number falls far short of the United Nation’s recommendation of ratio 1 per 400 citizens.
“The Constitution envisages Nigeria as a federal state. Granting allowance to state governments to establish police force and other security apparatuses will bring Nigeria into original constitutional contemplation of a federal state.”
The Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu, stated that creation of state police is long overdue with the current security crises across the country.