State Police Gets More Support as House Passes Bill for Second Reading

The House of Representatives has approved a bill on the creation of state-controlled police for further consideration. This aims to change the constitution of Nigeria to allow for the creation of state police forces.

The proposed law aims to amend the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 to create a framework for the introduction of state police forces and their regulations.

The Deputy Speaker Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu, along with 14 other lawmakers, have sponsored the proposed legislation.

In discussing the fundamental principles, Hon. Tolani Shagaya, one of the co-sponsors, emphasised that the main goal of government, as stated in Section 14(2)(b) of the Nigerian Constitution, is to ensure the security and well-being of the citizens.

He also mentioned that the nation’s overall security has been significantly tested recently, and the need for state policing is not just necessary but urgently needed to address the increasing security threats.

The legislator clarified that the creation of State Police is a strong call for a customized, community-focused policing approach, recognizing that our states are well-suited to handle security issues within their boundaries.

Identifying some of the main changes in the proposed amendment, he mentioned transferring control of policing from the national level to the state level, creating a system for cooperation and standards between federal and state police forces, and setting strict rules to prevent federal police from intervening in state police matters unless necessary.

Other proposals included the creation of State Police Service Commissions separate from the Federal Police Service Commission, with defined responsibilities and scopes; restructuring the National Police Council to incorporate State Police Service Commission Chairmen, highlighting the collaborative and consultative aspects of policing in our federal system; acknowledging potential financial hurdles for State Police by authorizing the Federal Government to offer grants or assistance, pending National Assembly approval, to guarantee sufficient resources for efficient policing, and more.

Shagaya mentioned that the changes suggested in the Bill are not just changes to the Nigerian Constitution but also crucial for creating a safer, more transparent, and stronger Nigeria. Similarly, Hon. Ahmed Jaha emphasized that the bill is important because security is everyone’s responsibility and should be a priority for all. He highlighted that through collaborative efforts between community policing and the Nigerian police force, they can eliminate crime from our communities.

Hon. Babajimi Benson also expressed his support for the bill, praising the Deputy Speaker for introducing it. Similarly, Hon. Awaji-Inombek Abiante backed the bill, emphasizing the need for state police to enhance security in Nigeria. However, Rep Aliyu Madaki disagreed with the bill, arguing that state police should not be merely a means for job creation, as the matter is more complex than politics.

Rep. Sada Soli Jibia raised concerns about the federal government’s difficulty in funding the 400,000 police force and stated that creating state police would be costly for the states and could potentially be abused. The bill received majority support from members and was subsequently referred to the Committee on Constitution Review by the Deputy Speaker. He encouraged members with additional suggestions regarding the bill to communicate them to the committee.

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