Devolution of power: Reps move to enact law for state police

THE House of Representatives has begun the process for devolution of powers as it seeks to reduce the Federal Government’s constitutional powers on the Nigerian Police Force.

According to the provisions of a draft bill seen by Sunday Tribune, the proposed legislation seeks to alter the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Cap. C23 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to transfer ‘Item 45’ from the Exclusive List to Concurrent Legislative List and for related matters.

As stipulated in the Explanatory Notes of the bill, it seeks to “grant the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly the power to make laws with respect to the creation, formation and control of police and other government security services in Nigeria.”

The bill, which scaled through first reading before the House embarked on two-month recess, had been slated for second reading upon resumption.

The proposed bill, as seen by Sunday Tribune, was sponsored by the speaker of the House, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila.

According to the Clause 2 of the bill, the proponent seeks to amend Section 214 Subsection 1 of the Principal Act, line 2, by deleting the clause; “and subject to the provisions of this section, no other Police Force shall be established for the federation or any part thereof.”

The bill also seeks to amend the Principal Act by creating new ‘sections 217 and 218’ 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 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 shall be under the command of the State Commissioner of Police. (c) 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 directives 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 directives or cause them to be complied with.”

A proposed ‘Section 219’ also empowers the state House of Assembly to make laws for further regulation and control of the State Police.

As proposed in Clause 7 of the bill, the Principal Act is to be amended by creating a new Section 21 in Part 2 of the Second Schedule as follows: Police and other government security services: (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.

Section 21 (2) states that “a House of Assembly of a state may make laws with respect to creation, formation or/and establishment of Police Force and other security services in respect of any matter pertaining to internal security and maintenance of law and order within the state and with regard to the enforcement of any law validly made by the House of Assembly of a state; (b) Regulation of ownership and control of State Police and other state government security services.”

In the same vein, the bill proposed that the “entire items on the Exclusive Legislative List in Part 1 of the Second Schedule of the Constitution are, hereby, rearranged and re-numbered as items 1 to 67 with the exclusion of the deleted item under the bill.”

Meanwhile, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, had, during a monthly meeting with other senior police officers, held penultimate Thursday in Abuja, unveiled plans for the recruitment of 40,000 Community Policing Officers (CPOs), as part of efforts to stem the tide of security challenges in the country.

Under the arrangements, no fewer than 50 CPOs are to be engaged in each of the 774 local government areas, in addition to 1,300 CPOs who will be drawn from bodies like the academia, road transport unions, artisans, traders associations, religious bodies, women unions, and youth organizations, among others.

According to the IGP, the CPOs will complement the police in law enforcement functions within their localities by performing low-risk and non-sensitive duties.

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