Bill on community policing scales second reading in Senate

SENATORS: Nigeria Senate plenary
Nigeria Senate plenary

A bill to adopt community policing into the constitution scaled second reading in the Senate on Thursday.

The bill, which was first read last November, seeks to repeal the Nigeria Police Act Cap P19 Laws of the Federation, 2004 and to enact the Nigeria Police Act, 2019.

The same bill was introduced in the eighth Senate but could not complete the legislative process before the last Senate was dissolved.

Reintroduced again, with adjustments from the last version, the legislation seeks to shift from the traditional police system to a community-participatory policing, where citizens in their respective communities are brought closer to the police in the prevention, detection and resolving of crimes.

This aside, if signed into law, the tenure of the office of inspector-general of police would be upped to five years.

Sponsor of the bill, Halliru Jika (APC, Bauchi) said this amendment was imperative because “since 1999, there have been 10 IGPs, including the present one. This is an average of 2 years per IGP. Provisions relating to the removal of a serving IGP are so crucial, that they have also been inserted in this new bill.”

In reality though, there have been 11 IGPs since 1999.

Citing the 2019 Global Peace Index (GPI), which places Nigeria 148th among the 163 least peaceful countries of the world, Mr Jika said the “recurrent deficiencies in the structure, training and welfare of the police force was as a result of the outdated legislation that guides policing in Nigeria.”

“The present Police Act is not only fraught with deficiencies, but strangely, the major organisation, duties, and powers of the Nigeria Police Force, as encapsulated in the present Act, have largely remained as set out in the 1943 Police Act,” Mr Jika said of the existing law.

“It is the recognition of the inherent shortcomings in the extant Police Act and the seemingly intractable challenge of insecurity in our country that has necessitated the proposed repeal of the extant Act and the enactment of a new one in its place, in consonance with the dictates of international best practices and the realities of present-day Nigeria.”

Mr Jika also argued that the newly passed Police Trust Fund Act may not achieve the level of effectiveness desired, except his proposition follows suit.

South-west governors recently set up a regional security outfit, Amotekun, to combat rising crimes in their states. This set them on a collision course with the federal government which said the outfit was illegal.

The federal government has since soft-pedalled as the governors have set up the legislative framework for the establishment of Amotekun via their respective states’ assemblies.

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