State police bill scales second reading at Reps

Members of the House of Reps

A bill seeking an amendment to the Nigerian Constitution to accommodate state and community policing was read for the second time at the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

The bill, titled, “Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Alteration) Bill, 2018”, was sponsored by the leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos) and seeks to delete item 45 from the exclusive legislative list and move it to the concurrent list.

Leading the debate on the bill, Mr Gbajabiamila said Nigerians are united on state police in the face of killings ongoing in the country.

He said with the passage of the bill, the federal government can look at smart ways to fund the state police, ”and the good of the state police outweigh the bad.”

He made reference to the U.S. where people elect police chiefs which takes them off the whims and control of state governors.

“It is not enough for us to talk, talk and just condemn killings, it is time for us to change the security architecture,” he said.

Supporting the motion, Oker Jev (Benue) stated that he has been opposing state police since the 6th Assembly, but his view has changed in the face of security challenges facing the country.

Muhammed Monguno (APC, Borno) opposed the bill as he said instead of creating state police, ”the constitution should be amended so as to ensure the states get more funds”.

“State governors are finding it difficult to pay wages, adding state police to it is not acceptable. I do support amending the constitution so that states can get more money, then we can talk about state police,” he said.

Also speaking against the bill, Henry Archibong (APC, Akwa Ibom) stated that deleting schedule 45 which reads, “Police and other government security services established by law” would mean giving states power to create all sorts of security agencies.

Thereafter, members of the lower chamber unanimously voted in support of the bill and it was referred to the ad hoc committee on constitution amendment.

The Senate had read the bill for the first time on June 12.

The Senate on July 4 directed its Constitution Review Committee to put in motion a machinery to amend the constitution to allow for the creation of state police.

It had also resolved to call on security agencies to stop involving themselves in the politics of the nation.

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Calls for state police have grown in recent months with rising incidences of mass killings in many parts of the country.

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