The Senate on Wednesday appealed to the 36 state Assemblies’ speakers to support its decision to amend the constitution to create state and community police system.
Senate President Bukola Saraki stated this when the speakers led by their Chairman and Speaker of the Gombe State House of Assembly, Abdulmumin Ismaila Kamba, paid a thank-you visit to the leadership of the Senate for passing the Bill which granted financial autonomy to state legislatures.
The President of the Senate pointed out that community policing would address the security challenges in the country.
He said: “You are all aware of the challenges we are currently facing in this country, particularly that of insecurity.
“There is no doubt that the security architecture of this country presently cannot meet the demands and challenges before it.
“One of the decisions we took today is to address the issue of state and community policing. In doing that, we gave our constitution amendment committee two weeks to bring to the floor a Bill on State and Community Policing. The House of Representatives is also working along similar lines.”
He, however, disclosed that the National Assembly would send the amendment to the state Houses of Assembly for their support.
Saraki further appealed to the speakers to play their part in resolving the security challenges in the country, and noted that no responsible country or society would continue to watch as its people were being killed.
He said: “We must appeal to our people that we must live in peace and harmony, and we must be able to resolve our issues peacefully. As speakers, I urge you to play your part.”
Earlier, Kamba had told the leadership of the Senate that the purpose of their coming was to thank it for passing the State Assembly Financial Autonomy Bill.
Saraki had announced on Tuesday on his Twitter handle @bukolasaraki that the Senate had commenced the amendment process.
“Today, my colleagues and I in the 8th Senate resolved to begin the process of amending the constitution to allow for the creation of state and community police. This is following our debate on solutions to the killings across the country,” he tweeted.
Similarly, in the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Majority Leader, has initiated a bill to establish state police.
Gbajabiamila’s bill came barely 24 hours after the passage of a resolution on recent killings in Plateau State on the floor of the House.
It was gathered that the Bill would be slated for second reading next week and given accelerated consideration.
According to him, the Bill seeks to “Alter the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria CAP. C 23 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 to delete item 45 from the Exclusive Legislative List to Concurrent Legislative List and other matters related thereto.”
The explanatory memorandum of the bill further provides for removal of “item 45 from the exclusive legislative list, grants the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly the power to make laws with respect to the creation, formation, and control of police and other government security services in Nigeria.”
In his lead debate, Gbajabiamila explained that section 214(1) of the principal Act was amended in line 2 deleting the phrase ‘and subject to the provisions of this section, no other police force shall be established for the federation or any part thereof’ immediately after the word ‘force’.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly on Wednesday received the backing of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar over the creation of state and community police.
Atiku, who backed the decision of the lawmakers to amend the constitution to formally provide for state police and community policing, added that such development would help the country to deal with the current deteriorating state of insecurity characterised by persistent loses of lives of innocent Nigerians at the hands of armed groups.
Atiku, in a statement by his media office, said that the lawmakers have by their action, demonstrated courage in seizing the initiative to intervene in the country’s security crisis.
Recalling the massacres in Zamfara, Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Adamawa and Kaduna states and the murder of seven policemen in Abuja while on active duty, the former vice president noted that decisive action is needed to address the current security challenges.
He said: “Given the seeming despair and helplessness of the citizens in the face of frequent deadly attacks, the National Assembly has a responsibility to give legal teeth to the creation of state police and community policing in the country. ”
“A peculiar crisis demands a decisive action, and I am one hundred percent behind the National Assembly in their efforts to strengthen the hands of state governments in providing security to their citizens.”
The Waziri Adamawa noted that leaving the citizens to their fate is not an option, adding that once a democratic government seems overwhelmed or paralysed by security challenges, the initiative by the National Assembly should be welcomed by all Nigerians.
The former vice president explained that security strategies should be periodically reviewed because the criminals involved are also studying the weaknesses and strengths of our security system.
According to him, the state should always be ahead of the criminals or should be able to develop strategies that can neutralise them before they even strike.
Atiku called on Nigerians to support the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly in this bold decision to amend the constitution to create state police and community policing.
He extended his condolences to the families and colleagues of the seven policemen killed in the nation’s capital in the line of duty.
“Nigeria must show, by words and action, that the lives of our armed forces and the police and indeed of any Nigerian matter to us. Even one loss of life is a loss too many,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has warned the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to stop sponsoring protests against members of the National Assembly.
PDP, in a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said that such is capable of destroying the bedrock of the nation’s democracy, “pitching Nigerians against one another and driving our nation into anarchy.
“Indeed, Nigerians were shocked over revelations in which cabinet ministers and appointees of the president were alleged to have paid the protesters with a view to using them to embarrass the National Assembly on Tuesday.
“Nigerians will recall how, in April this year, hoodlums gained access into the National Assembly, invaded the hallowed chambers of the Senate and made away with the mace, while threatening our lawmakers and disrupting proceedings in the parliament.
“Members of the National Assembly are direct representatives of the people and the failure of the Federal Government to recall Senator Dino Melaye, despite the huge resources invested, speaks volume of the real position of Nigerians on the ongoing stand-off between the executive and the legislature,” the party said.