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Governors to pick commissioners in restructured police force

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Adamawa residents express fear of fresh B’Haram attack
•’Abandoned game reserves breeding grounds for terrorists’

The Senate is planning to approve state police and empower governors to appoint commissioners as some of the amendments to the 1999 Constitution.

The bill which is to be presented for first reading this week on the floor of the Senate automatically unbundles the Nigeria Police and will be referred to the Senate Constitution Amendment Committee led by the Deputy President, Ovie Omo-Agege.

Sponsored by the immediate past Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, the bill seeks to establish federal police, state police, national police service commission, national police council, and state police service commission.

Ekweremadu (PDP, Enugu State) has been in the Senate since 2003 and was chairman of the Constitution Review Committee for 12 years when he held sway as deputy Senate president.

According to the bill, the existing federal police will be restructured and made responsible for the maintenance of public security, preservation of public order and security of persons and property throughout the federation to the extent provided for under the constitution or by an Act of the National Assembly.

On the other hand, if approved, state police will be organised and administered in accordance with such provisions as may be prescribed by a law of the house of assembly of a state, subject to the framework and guidelines established by an Act of the National Assembly.

The bill also prescribes: “A commissioner shall be appointed by the governor of the state on the advice of the National Police Service Commission, subject to the confirmation of such an appointment by the House of Assembly of the state.

“He shall be in office for a period of five years only or until he attains a retirement age prescribed by law, whichever is earlier.

“The governor may give to the commissioner of police such lawful directives with respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order as he may consider necessary, and the commissioner of police shall comply with those directives.”

It continues: “Where the commissioner of police feels that any order given is unlawful or contradicts general policing standards or practice, he may request that the matter be referred to the state police service commission for review.

“The decision of the state police service commission shall be final and shall not be inquired into by any court.

“An Act of the National Assembly may prescribe a bi-annual certification review of the activities of state police by the National Police Service Commission to ensure they meet up with approved national standards and guidelines of policing and their operations do not undermine national integrity, promote ethnic, tribal or sectional agenda or marginalise any segment of the society within the state.”

The proposed law also stipulates how a state commissioner of police to be appointed by the governor can be removed from office.

“A commissioner shall only be removed by the governor upon the recommendation of the National Police Service Commission praying that he be so removed on any of the following grounds: misconduct in the performance of his official duties; serious breach of policing standards; conviction of any offence by a court of law or tribunal, including administrative tribunals set up by the police authorities for internal disciplining of police officers; indictment by a judicial body or tribunal for corruption, fraud, embezzlement or other unacceptable conducts in office; bankruptcy; mental incapacity; and participation in political activities of any kind either within or outside the state and including sponsoring or giving aid to any political group or movement.”

However, no state police commissioner can be removed without a motion supported by two-thirds members of the House of Assembly.

The bill equally states that the new National Police Service Commission shall comprise a chairman to be appointed by the president, subject to the confirmation of the Senate.

The commission will also have “Two members representing the National Human Rights Commission; one representative of the Public Complaints Commission; a representative of the Nigerian Labour Congress to be appointed by the president of the Nigerian Labour Congress; six retired police officers not below the rank of assistant commissioner of police representing each of the geo-political zones of the country to be appointed by the president subject to confirmation of the Senate; a representative of the Nigerian Bar Association to be appointed by the president of the Nigerian Bar Association; a representative of the Nigerian Union of Journalists to be appointed by the president of the Nigerian Union of Journalists; and the attorney-general of each of the states of the federation as members,”.

The responsibilities of the commission, as provided in the bill include “appointment of persons to offices (other than office of the inspector-general of police) in the federal police.”

The commission “shall exercise disciplinary control over members of the federal police. It shall recommend to the governor of a state the appointment of the commissioner of police, deputy commissioners of police and assistant commissioners of police of the state police based on a list submitted to it by the state police service commission of the relevant state and subject to confirmation by the house of assembly of the state.

“It shall recommend to the governor, the discipline and removal of the commissioner of police, deputy commissioners of police and assistant commissioners of police of the state police.

“It shall supervise the activities of the federal police and state police to the extent provided for in this constitution or by an Act of the National Assembly.

“It shall prescribe standards for all police forces in the country in training, criminal intelligence databases and forensic laboratories, and render assistance to state police in areas as may be requested by such state police.”

The state police commissioner, according to the bill, shall comprise “a chairman to be appointed by the governor, subject to the confirmation of the house of assembly; a representative of the Federal Government to be appointed by the National Police Service Commission; two members to be appointed by the National Human Rights Commission who must be indigenes of the respective state; one representative of the Public Complaints Commission; a representative of the Nigerian Labour Congress to be appointed by the chairman of the state branch; three retired police officers to be appointed by the governor, one from each senatorial zone of the state subject to confirmation of the state house of assembly; a representative of the Nigerian Bar Association to be appointed by the President of the Nigerian Bar Association who must be a lawyer from the respective state; and a representative of the Nigerian Union of Journalists to be appointed by the chairman of the state branch.”

The state commission shall be responsible for “recommending the appointment of a commissioner of police, deputy commissioner of police and assistant commissioner of police to the National Police Service Commission.”

Other functions of the state police commission are the appointment, discipline, and removal of members of the state police below the rank of assistant commissioner.

Meanwhile, the residents of Garkida community in Adamawa State have expressed fear over the threat of attack by Boko Haram insurgents, as the police advised them to employ the services of local hunters against the terrorists.

The police at the weekend explained that the local hunters were necessary for the fight against the insurgents because it is only those who reside in the locality who know the terrain.

The PPRO of Adamawa State Command, Suleiman Yahaya Ngoroji, in a BBC Hausa report monitored by journalists in Kaduna, explained that the security agents could only succeed if the locals cooperated with them and exposed strangers amongst them.

Also, participants in a two-day media training identified the abandoned reserves in the North East and other parts of the country as breeding grounds for terrorists and other criminal elements.

During the training, Dr. Terfa Abraham, a research fellow, an economist at the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, (NILDS), said that if those reserves were put into proper use, criminals wouldn’t have any hiding place.

The training was Organised by ActionAid Nigeria, with funding from, Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF), held at Keffi in Nasarawa State.

He, therefore, called on the federal and state governments to urgently retake these reserves and make them functional, so as to disallow them from being used by criminal elements.


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