•Centralised police system has collapsed in Nigeria —Ohanaeze
•It’s unfortunate Reps Committee rejected state police —MBF
By Anayo Okoli, Dapo Akinrefon & Peter Duru
The Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, and its Igbo counterpart, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, yesterday expressed disappointment over the decision of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Constitution amendment to vote against state police.
The committee had in its sitting on Wednesday, rejected the bill seeking to establish state police, sponsored by Onofiok Luke from Akwa Ibom State.
The bill had passed second reading at the lower legislative chamber in July 2021.
Currently, the central authority on the police and other government security services established by law is the federal government.
But the legislation sought to move such powers in section 214 (c) from the exclusive list to the concurrent list, to empower “both the national assembly and houses of assembly of states to legislate on police and other security matters”.
At its sitting on Wednesday, 14 legislators voted against the amendment, while 11 lawmakers voted in favour.
Idris Wase, Deputy Speaker of the House, who is the chairman of the committee, had put the bill to vote after Fred Agbedi, lawmaker from Bayelsa State, raised a motion that the bill be voted on.
Speaking against the bill, Muhammed Wudil, legislator from Kano, said: “There are lots of things as regards the creation of state police.
“There is a lot of apprehension, especially the nature of the country now, in some cases divided and any governor can decide to take whatever security measures against political opponents.”
Following the outcome of the vote, it means the bill will not be subjected to any further legislative work.
The rejection of the bill by the committee came weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari ruled out state police as an option to address the country’s security challenges.
This is despite the fact that in recent times, the demand for state police had heightened in many parts of the country, due to the escalating insecurity.
It will be recalled that Souther governors had also emphasised the need for state police in place of the police controlled by the federal government.
But reacting to the development yesterday, Afenifere lampooned the House for rejecting an amendment to the 1999 Constitution that would have enabled willing states to establish their police force.
Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr Jare Ajayi, said that the rejection of the proposed amendment by some members of the House of Representatives Committee on Constitution Review “has reinforced the notion that most of the members are not in the National Assembly to serve the best interests of majority of Nigerians.”
He said: “The feeling across the length and breadth of Nigeria today is to take every legitimate step to combat the unprecedented security challenge the country is facing today.
“As is well known, one of the best means of combating such challenges is to design measures that may be unique-from one area to another.
“The peculiar security challenge we have presently demands the formulation of local strategies to compliment that of the central government. In this particular case, State and Local Government Police are very necessary if we truly want to overcome the challenges of insecurity especially that of banditry and terrorism.
“With the number of lives that have been lost to terrorists in the country, including lives of some lawmakers, it could not be defended at all, that the lawmakers would throw away the golden opportunity to curb criminality in Nigeria.
“By this rejection, an impression is being created that some well placed people are deriving pleasure from the unwarranted loss of lives, properties and territories that are now the hallmark of our daily living.
“Such people, however, needed to be reminded that terrorism, at some point, may not have respect for even those who brought it into being.
“It is not too late for our lawmakers to retrace their step on this matter.
Afenifere calls on well meaning Nigerians to impress it on these lawmakers the need to be more patriotic and be more committed to the sanctity of life.”
Centralised police system has collapsed in Nigeria —Ohanaeze
Reacting in a similar vein, Ohanaeze Ndigbo did not only express disappointment over the matter but also said with time, the lawmakers would realise the need for state police.
According to Ohanaeze, a single central police for the country has collapsed, prompting the clamour for a multiple-level security architecture.
Ohanaeze said that no federation functions well without multiple levels of security architecture, hence Nigeria cannot be an exception as a federation.
National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Alex Chidozie Ogbonnia, expressed strong hope that the House would return to the matter as it was vital for Nigeria to function well as a federation.
“The issue of central police has already collapsed in Nigeria. In a federation, there ought to be multiple level of security architecture, even down to local government area. There is no federation without multiple level of security architecture. They compliment the central police.
“Here in the South East, that is why Ohanaeze supports the formation of Ebubeagu, they operate at local levels to compliment the central security architecture.
“They have relationship with the rural communities and make the job of the central police easier because they understand the environment more than somebody from outside.
“Evidently, there is need for them to compliment each other. I want to believe that with time, they will understand the need for state police.”
It’s unfortunate Reps Committee on Constitutional Amendment rejected state police — MBF
Also reacting yesterday, the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, said it was unfortunate that the House of Representatives Committee on Constitutional Amendment rejected the inclusion of state police in the constitution.
National President of MBF, Dr. Bitrus Pogu, said in Makurdi that despite the position of the National Assembly, Nigerians would continue to agitate for the inclusion of state police in the constitution, given the security challenges facing the country.
He said: “It is unfortunate, we thought we would have achieved that but majority of us, including the the lawmakers, were obviously uncomfortable with the inclusion of state police in the constitution.
“By what they have done, it means we will continue with the agitation. They should know that by reason of the worsening insecurity in the country, state police is very important.
“Moreover, we have to practice true federalism and true federalism allows for some institutions to be established by the federating units.
“We have not lost hope, we are positive that someday, they will reconsider their position; we are hopeful about that because the security situation in the country at the moment has made the creation of state police an imperative.”