Barely 24 hours after the House of Representatives passed a resolution backing the establishment of state police, the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, on Wednesday received a bill seeking to amend the 1999 Constitution to accommodate state police. The bill was transmitted to Dogara by the sponsor and Leader of the House, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila. Its key provision is to amend Section 214 (1) of the 1999 Constitution by 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.” New sections 215 and 216 are also to be created by amending the existing sections 217 and 218 to spell out the structure and operations of the proposed state police.
“The Principal Act is hereby amended by rearranging the existing sections 217 to 320 as sections 220 to 323. “The Principal Act is hereby amended by deleting item 45 from the exclusive legislative list in part 1 of the second schedule of the constitution. “That the entire items on the Exclusive Legislative List in part 1 of the second schedule of the constitution is hereby rearranged and renumbered as items 1 to 67 with the exclusion of the deleted item under this Bill.” The bill also proposes to amend the constitution by creating a new section 21 in part 2 of the Second Schedule to give powers to state Houses of Assembly to create state police commands. The House, following established procedure, will gazette the bill for first reading this week.
Also, in the upper chamber of the National Assembly, the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, called for the support of state Houses of Assembly in the amendment to the 1999 Constitution to allow for the creation of state and community police. Saraki made the call when he met with speakers of the state legislatures led by the Chairman, States’ Assembly Speakers Conference and Speaker of the Gombe State House of Assembly, Abdulmumin Kamba. The speakers paid a “thank you” visit to the leadership of the Senate on Tuesday for passing the bill granting financial autonomy to state legislatures, according to a statement by Saraki’s Special Assistant on Print Media, Mr. Chuks Okocha, in Abuja on Wednesday.
The Senate President was quoted as stating that state and community policing had become necessary due to the rising security challenges in the country. Saraki 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 (Tuesday) 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. “We will send it to the state Houses of Assembly to seek your support.
We believe that no responsible country or society can continue to watch helplessly as our people are being killed. 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.”