The Lagos State House of Assembly has recommended a fine of N250,000 or six months imprisonment for any individual who obstructs members of the Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC) from carrying out their duties.
This followed the adoption of the report of its Committee on Information, Security and Strategy as presented by its Chairman, Mrs Adefunmilayo Tejuosho by the House during plenary on Monday.
Tejuosho presented the report on “A Bill for a Law to Amend the Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Agency for the Regulation and Control of Neighbourhood Safety Corps Activities and for Connected Purposes’’.
According to her, it was observed at the public hearing held on Dec. 14, 2018 that certain sections of the Principal Law needed to be amended in addition to those contained in the Amendment Bill.
She said that in order to allow for proper efficiency and strengthening of the agency, there was a need to create more sections to make the amendment more encompassing.
Tejuosho said that the amendment created a new Section 25 in the Principal Law with the side-note “Obstruction of Authorised Officer’’.
“A person, who wilfully and unlawfully obstructs, restrains, prevents, harasses or injures a safety corps member or any authorised officer in the discharge of his duties under this law commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of six months imprisonment or to fine of N250, 000 only or both fine and imprisonment.
“A duly authorised safety corps member shall have power to enter, inspect and conduct search upon warrant issued by a Magistrate as may be incidental to be operation of this law.
“A safety corps member shall have power to arrest anyone who commits, about to commit or is suspected of criminal activities and shall handover such person (s) to the police,” the amendment bill read in part.
Section 27, subsection 2 of the amendment, however, stated that a safety corps member shall not exploit his or her membership of the safety corps for personal advantage or benefits.
“A safety corps member who violates the provisions of this section commits an offence under Section 68 of the Criminal Law and is liable on conviction to five years imprisonment,’’ Subsection 3 of Section 27 read in part.
The amendment stated that some functions of the LNSC include establishment of the uniform safety corps in all local government areas of the state.
The agency is also expected to take over all existing responsibilities of the neighbourhood watch and absorb all eligible neighbourhood watch members into the safety corps.
According to the bill, the agency will register all private vigilant groups, private home security and any other person employed for private security as well as carrying out enlightenment campaign on crime detection and prevention.
The lawmakers took turns to commend the committee for the amendment and debated the bill.
In his observation, Prince Bisi Yusuff said that tenure of the board should not be put on part time but on full time as proposed in the amendment because of the importance of security.
Yusuff said that LNSC should be thoroughly funded through the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF)
Mr Rotimi Olowo (APC-Somolu I) harped on the need for the agency to liase with other security agencies for proper security of lives and property.
The Majority Leader, Mr Sanai Agunbiade, who corroborated Yusuff said: “The tenure of members of the board should not be part time because of the nature of the issue (security).
“Lagos is a dynamic state with various security challenges. We must be emphatic on this.
“I wish to state that the job should be permanent and not part time’’.
In his submission, Mr Mudashiru Obasa, the Speaker of the House, Mr Obasa said that the fines for anyone who obstructs LNSC officials was mild and that it would not deter criminals.
Obasa said that the board should be separated from the agency to allow the agency function well.
On whether the job of the board members should be part-time or full time, the speaker said that depended on the functions of the board.
The bill is, however, awaiting the third reading having scaled the second reading.
Meanwhile, the House also debated reports on Public Private Partnership (PPP) and the Lagos State House of Assembly Service Commission (LAHASCOM)
The reports were presented by the Chairmen of House Committee on Finance and House Committee on Establishment, Training and Pension, Mr Yinka Ogundimu and Mrs Mojisola Meranda respectively.
On PPP, the lawmakers were unanimous during debate that the House should be involved in all MoU and feasibility studies on PPP as the representatives of the people for transparency and accountability.
The two reports were adopted as the resolutions of the House.