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Senate cuts down President’s control of Nigeria Police Force

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National Assembly Complex Abuja.

National Assembly Complex Abuja.

• 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 explanatory memorandum to the Bill states that it seeks to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended) by deleting the Proviso to section 215 (4) and removing the ouster provision of directions given to the Police on combating crime under section 215(5) of the Constitution.”

The amendment, according to sources within the Senate, became necessary following undue control of the police by the Federal Government and its agents in Abuja, which has made it difficult for governors to promptly address security issues in their states.

As if underscoring the move by the upper legislative arm, former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday urged Nigerians to give the police the necessary support for effective and efficient policing.

Obasanjo spoke in Abeokuta at a maiden meeting of the Eminent People’s Forum (EPF) and launching of “Change Begins with me” of the Ogun State Police Command.

The State Police Commissioner, Ahmed Iliyasu disclosed that the EPF is a collaborative group that works to make policing more efficient.

The former President disclosed that the work of the police is a difficult task; hence, society must help them to perform their duties.

Obasanjo explained that security of the society must be done collectively. He urged the people to assist the police in the community with necessary information.

Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, a direct beneficiary of the proposed law, who was represented at the event by Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Taiwo Adeoluwa, lamented the total loss of public trust in the police and urged men and officers of the police to do everything possible to evolve new strategies at combating crime and restore confidence in themselves.

In a nutshell, the Senate is seeking the amendment of Section 215 (4) of the current constitution, which reads: “Subject to the provisions of this section, the Governor of a state or such Commissioner of the Government of the state as he may authorise in that behalf, may give to the Commissioner of Police of that state such lawful directions with respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order within the state as he may consider necessary, and the Commissioner of Police shall comply with those directions or cause them to be complied with: Provided that before carrying out any such directions under the foregoing provisions of this subsection the Commissioner of Police may request that the matter be referred to the President or such minister of the Government of the Federation as may be authorised in that behalf by the President for his directions.”

And section 215 (5) in the current constitution that prevented courts from hearing cases related to presidential directives to police reads:

“The question whether any, and if so what, directions have been given under this section shall not be inquired into in any court.”

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 legislsture 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.



21 Comments
  • koladollar

    Once the state is to have the control on their state police and division, then the responsibility to bear the cost and maintenance which include the salary of the police should be directly on the state governors.

    • Eboh Samuel

      I agree if they want the police then they will take up police responsibility

    • PolyGon2013

      I agree, and the allocation of money for the police should also be given to the state. In other words, the share of FG money should reduce. I would have preferred zonal police though. In other words, SW to have its own police, etc.

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  • Ejiofor Umeano

    You do not l
    ike
    state police yet you want
    Governors to control the police in their state? Senate will end up creating a big mess of the police. If Senate want Governors to control the police then let there be state police. These are the two reasons why it can not work 1. Police can not obey two masters at a time (the IG that represents the federal and the state governor) 2. police will eventually obey who is maintaining it which is federal. In my opinion their must be total resource control and state police before Nigeria can progress

  • Barr.Miss CI Nwagbara, LL.M

    The Nigerian Police Force is a Federal Institution, not a State. We are not operating State Police Force. Hence, it is not appropriate for State Governors to control the State CPs.

    • PolyGon2013

      It is a good idea to do it like in the USA. We will be able to cut down those armed robbers and criminals from another zone!

    • The Nigerian Police Force is no doubt a Federal institution, but the Governors, who are Chief Security Officer of their states are supposed to have effective control over the CPs for the effective security control in their states and to reduce most of the bottlenecks in tackling security challenges in the dormaines, because most of the CPs sees themselves as being at the same level with the state Governors, hence they cannot take direct order from them and in some cases, the CPs are openly disrespectful to their hosting state Governors, yet the CPs who are members of the state governors security meetings are not bound to take orders from them. Is it practicable like this in the USA Federal System that Nigeria copied their system of government?

    • iwe paul

      I believe it is Nigerians who made the Nigerian Police Force a federal institution,madam lawyer. If they so decide that they want state police,so be it. It was not God that made the Nigerian police a federal institution.

  • Paului

    The federal government should make all the appointments for now and let the governors control them for now. The true term of federalism is transferring power to the people. I even believe police force should be localised. Let’s not be afraid to try new ideas.

  • justin lar

    it is a good development if the governors use their powers equitably but not to hunt down political opponents. but its not yet uhuru; mark my words. with the erratic disposition of some of the current governors in power this might just be the beginning of another level of brigandage.

  • yinka

    I will propose that the NSCDC be allowed to be transformed into states police department. The structure is already on ground and their work is complementary to that of the NPF. States will fund and control the NSCDC in their territories while the federal government keeps the control of the NPF. I believe this is a win win for both parties, Federal government will retain major control over policing while the state government will also make some meaningful gain in the control of the security of their state. The resulting police departments can be customize by each state; name change, uniform change etc.

    I really believe this will be less controversial and would have less risk of being vetoed by the President who may fear loosing control of the state police. It is sad to note that some state governments cannot be trusted with so much power right now considering what they’ve done with the little they currently possess.

    End of “Oga At The Top Syndrome” for the NSCDC. Haahaahaa

  • These people want revolution in Nigeria by all cost the law makers want to destroy Nigeria with useless laws. Handing police to the governors will finish common man in the street against the firends and rich men arround the governor. Ie, Peter Obi ordered release of Kidinappers of Nze Agodi Igwike, one Okechukwu Nwele, Chukwudi Ukaegbu and others becuase his rich friend One Dr Maduka was involved in the crime and police has not done anything to the crimanls up till now.

  • Hah!

    Chai! I cant imagine If Governors like Wike, Fayose, El-Rufai or the gallivanting Zamfara Warrior Governor be given full powers to give unconditional directives to their Police Commissioners. One day these Men can prevent even the President from entering their states.

  • vic

    BUHARI SHOULD REFUSE TO SIGN SUCH OBNOXIOUS BILL TO PROTECT THE LOOTING GOVERNORS.

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  • Nicolas Henry

    I see a big plot by Saraki and his cohort to plan ahead 2019. Now its obvious that they can not control security agents at the federal level. Therefore, they are looking for the way to keep police under them in their respective states. Nigerians let’s open our eyes and see the evil plot.

  • real

    i think this is a good move in the right direction. however like mentioned, there needs to be a major check and balance. for example, there should be some kind of control by the people via a state policing board that would be elected by the people. yes the governor would be able to provide input for the security of the state, however the board would be controlling the police. of course there should be a dedicated funding for this police force from the federal government and the state police. This funding should not be used by the governor to control the police.

  • ayo

    Great idea! Just have a Police internal affairs unit in each state that reports to the presidency as a control check.

  • Joe Iwu

    It is a good idea. The same salaries the police receive should be channeled to the Governors for onward payment to the Police force.

  • Emmyoz

    Do we still have police in Nigeria???