Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Senate Cuts Down President’s Control OfNigeria Police Force

• Governors to issue orders to CPs
• We’ll enforce the law, say Police
• Obasanjo, Amosun seek support for
officers
• Control by govs recipe for disaster
Nigeria’s Senate is stepping up efforts at
saving democracy from executive abuse. It
plans to amend the Constitution to
decentralise the police force, whittle down
the powers of the President over
commissioners of police by giving state
governors the power of the ‘last
command.’
Through a gazetted Senate Bill 346
sponsored by Solomon Olamilekan of the
All Progressives’ Congress (APC) from
Lagos East Senatorial District, the Upper
Legislative Chamber has given full powers
to governors to issue unconditional
directives to the Police in their states.
A copy of the Bill obtained by The
Guardian, specifically deleted the proviso
in section 215 (4) of the 1999 Constitution
as amended that empowered the President
to overrule any orders given to a Police
Commissioner by the state governor.
The Bill also seeks to nullify the provision
in section 215(5) which had prevented any
court from entertaining cases arising from
such orders issued by the President to the
police.
Greater control of the police by states will
douse tension between the presidency and
state governments over local policing,
bolster efforts at fighting crime and ease
governance. Effective policing at that level
would also help states build the required
infrastructure to create jobs.
There have been loud calls for political
restructuring of the country for effective
policing at the state and local government
levels in response to rising spate of crime,
including insurgency, armed robbery and
kidnapping. The idea of state police has
received increasing support despite Federal
Government’s insistence on total control of
the force. It was also part of the
recommendations of the 2014 National
Conference convened by former President
Goodluck Jonathan which the current
government has refused to implement.
Security experts have however said,
without appropriate checks and balances
in place, governors’ control of police
commissioners in their states would be a
“recipe for disaster.”
Managing Director of Beacon Security
Consulting, Kabir Adamu, expressed worry
that the political situation in Nigeria does
not favour the decision, as its
implementation would help political and
self-serving interest prevail.
He said: “But I think it would be better if
one sees the checks and balances the
Senate intends to introduce in the new law
and to ensure that this very vital institution
of law enforcement is not used to serve
either political party or self interest. If they
do not introduce checks and balances, then
it is a recipe for national disaster,” Adamu
argued.
Aliu Umar Babangida, who manages the
Abuja-based Goldwater &Riversand
Consult, a defence and national security
firm, agreed with Adamu. “It is necessary
but not yet the right time to allow
governors exercise control over
Commissioners of Police,” he told The
Guardian .
The Police force in its reaction said it
would simply enforce any law made by the
Legislature and signed by the Executive
arm of government.
“I can’t comment on political decisions; we
are professionals and law enforcers.
Whatever law comes into force, we would
obey, Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO),
Don Awunah, told The Guardian.
He described the Police as an agency vested
with the responsibility of enforcing the
law, while the National Assembly makes
the laws.
The specific amendment that removed the
obstacle on the way of state governors in
directing the police commissioners reads:
“The Constitution of the Federal Republic
of Nigeria 1999 (in this Bill referred to as
“the Principal Act”) is altered as set out in
this Bill. Section 215 of the Principal Act is
altered by deleting the provision to
subsection 4.”
The same section 215 is also altered by
deleting immediately after the word “shall”
in line 3, the word “not” in subsection 5.
3.”
The Bill, when successfully passed by the
Senate, will face little hurdle in the state
legislatures which are required to endorse
any amendment of the constitution by the
national legislature before it becomes
valued. But with the governors already
itching to enjoy powers similar to having a
state police, the amendment could have a
smooth sail in the 36 Houses of Assembly.

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