Nigerian senators debate state policing, lament security situation

Chambers of the Nigerian Senate used to illustrate the story.
Chambers of the Nigerian Senate used to illustrate the story.

The Senate has resolved to review the security infrastructure of Nigeria, with a view to coming up with new ways to address insecurity in the country.

The resolution followed a lengthy debate on the strength and drawbacks of establishing state police in Nigeria.

The lawmakers made the resolution on Wednesday after expressing alarm that insecurity had lately led to many deaths in various parts of the country.

They also proposed the overhaul of the security system and a security roundtable that would discuss how to curb the menace of insecurity in through an exhaustive deliberation.

This followed a motion sponsored by Tijjani Kaura Zamfara-APC, on the recent killings and arson by armed bandits in four villages of Shinkafi Local Government Area of Zamfara State.

Broadened into the general situation of insecurity in the country, the senators took turns to explain general and peculiar situations in their constituencies, which they said require urgent solution.

The lawmakers debated whether the country should resort to state police in confronting the security challenges.

Giving instances of excessive use of power of vigilantes in his state, Dino Melaye, Kogi-APC, however, warned the Senate against moving for the establishment of state police.

“We must restore what I call information gathering,” Mr. Melaye said.

“There is loss of confidence between the citizens and the people. Nigerian citizens no longer have confidence in security agencies to the extent that they hoard information. The police and other security agencies must work towards gaining the confidence of the people.

“Today, I will stand vehemently against the creation of state police because it will be abused by the governors.”

Mao Ohuabunwa, Abia-PDP, however, differed in his comment. He argued that states should be involved in issues of their security.

“The primary assignment of any government is the protection of lives and properties of its citizens,” he said.

“Mr. President, we should leave politics and look for ways to curb this. We need to devolve powers. We might not call it a state police but we should let the states be involved in their own security.”

Similarly, Godswill Akpabio, Akwa Ibom-PDP, wants state police be recognised, saying it is already in operation in many parts of the country.

“We cannot do same thing over and over again and expect different result. Even if we say we don’t want state police, we already have it. Every state has one form of vigilante or the other and they all carry guns around,” he said.

“We should have a serious-minded committee that will look into the issue of security. I am not against state police but we should regulate their activities so that they will not be used by politicians.”

In his comment, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, bemoaned the state of illegal possession and mobility of firearms in the country.

“People now illegally carry arms all over the place. In the past, many committees have been set up to look at the reform of the police and as of today, no action has been taken.

“The good point, as somebody said, is for us to redesign the structure, based on that decide the solution and not solution before the design.”

On the killings in Zamfara, the Senate resolved to urge the federal government to evaluate the Nigerian Army’s Operation Harbin Kunama and come up with a clear policy on the protection of citizens, especially those in rural areas.

It also resolved to call on the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, to immediately send relief materials to the affected villages, and to send a delegation of the Senate to condole with the government and people of Zamfara State on the incident.

The lawmakers also resolved to set up an ad-hoc committee to study and review the current security infrastructure in Nigeria, in consultation with the security agencies and come up with recommendations on way forward.

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