Ekweremadu’s state police doctrine as precursor to rejigging failed security architecture
Last week’s resolve by the Senate to rejig Nigeria’s security architecture for efficiency has reawakened and rekindled hopes about the practicability of the state police formula the former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, canvassed in a bill that failed to pass in the 8th Senate. After several years of frustration suffered in the security sector, the Senate resolved penultimate Wednesday to review the issues threatening the nation’s security architecture.
A major resolution that emerged from the six-hour marathon debate was among others the need to consider state and community policing options. And last week, Senate President Ahmad Lawan inaugurated an 18-member ad hoc committee charged with the responsibility of engaging all stakeholders in the country’s security sector and submit a comprehensive report for the Senate’s consideration.
Majority leader of the Senate, Yahaya Abdullahi, who heads the committee has declared that despite the challenges posed by funding and time, his committee would hasten to conclude it’s assignment so as to lay a solid foundation for good governance, security, and peace. The ad hoc committee would also engage the National Security Adviser on the implementation modalities of the December 2019 National Security Strategies of the Federal Government.
The committee would also engage the national security institutions to discuss their operational structures, funding, equipment, and staff disposition with a view to reviewing the national security architecture to make it more responsive in tackling the myriad security challenges facing the country and the people.
Ekweremadu had, in the past, been very consistent and vocal about the need for the creation of state police. From June 2003 when he was inaugurated in the National Assembly as a Senator to date, Ekweremadu had at various fora spoken about the need for the establishment of state police to complement the Federal Government’s efforts towards stemming the country’s security challenges. When Ekweremadu started his state police campaign, the level of insecurity was still in its infancy compared with what currently obtains now, with the entire country seemingly set on fire by brazen acts of brigandage being perpetrated by insurgents sects like Boko Haram, bandits, cattle rustlers, kidnappers, herders, and armed robbers.
As Deputy Senate President and in his capacity as Chairman of the Committee on Constitution Amendment in the Eighth Senate, Ekweremadu had not only canvassed the state police option but also went to the extent of sponsoring a Bill to realise that option. At every opportunity, he kept defending that option.
While expressing his pains after the massive killings in Plateau State in 2018 by suspected armed herdsmen resulting in the loss of over 100 lives, Ekweremadu put the blame squarely on unitary policing, which he described as a misnomer in modern policing, especially in an entity that prides itself on federalism like Nigeria.
Ekweremadu had made his contributions during the Senate’s debate on the Plateau killings on the heels of another carnage in Zamfara. At the time, he had just had an interactive session with Fulbright and Exchange Scholars, and Graduate Students in his maiden lecture as Professor at Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy and Social Sciences, Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. Thereafter, he vowed to sponsor a Bill for the creation of state police in Nigeria.
He had assured the Senate, “A bill for state police shall be sponsored by me in this chamber.” Interestingly, the move received the blessing of the Senate, which mandated the Committee on Constitution Review to come up with a constitution amendment bill for state police.
Ekweremadu’s State Police Bill
TAGGED “The Constitution Amendment Bill to Provide for the Establishment of State Police and Other Related Matters 2018”, Ekweremadu’s sponsored State Police Bill was co-sponsored by 74 other members of the Committee on Constitution Review. It was consequently accorded First Reading in April 2018.
Although it was unable to pass legislative scrutiny in the 8th National Assembly, the Bill among other things, sought to establish The Federal Police, State Police, National Police Service Commission, National Police Council, and State Police Service Commission for the states.
The Federal Police, according to the Bill, shall be 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.
The State Police, on the other hand, shall be organised and administered in accordance with such provisions as may be prescribed by a Law of the House of Assembly of a State, but subject to the framework and guidelines established by an Act of the National Assembly.
To address the fears of abuse expressed by opponents of State Police in the present dispensation, the Bill provides that the Commissioner of Police of a State shall be appointed by the Governor of the state on the advice of the National Police Service Commission, subject to confirmation of such appointment by the House of Assembly of the State and 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 directions 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. However, 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.
But 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 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.
It could be as a result of 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, including sponsoring or giving aid to any political group or movement.
However, such removal shall be subject to approval by a two-thirds majority of the House of Assembly of the State. Importantly, 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 marginalize any segment of the society within the state.
The National Police Service Commission (NPSC), the Bill further stated, shall comprise a Chairman to be appointed by the President subject to the confirmation of the Senate, two members representing the National Human Rights Commission, one representative of the Public Complaints Commission and a representative of the organised Labour.
Also on board are six retired police officers not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police representing the geo-political zones (to be appointed by the President subject to confirmation of the Senate), a representative of the Nigerian Bar Association, a representative of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, and the Attorney General of each of the States of the Federation.
The National Police Service Commission shall be responsible for the appointment of persons to offices (other than office of the Inspector-General of Police) in the Federal Police, exercising disciplinary control over members of the Federal Police, recommending 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 also be recommending 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, supervising 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, and prescribing standards for all police forces in the country in training, criminal intelligence data bases, forensic laboratories and render assistance to State Police in areas as may be requested by such State Police.
The Bill also sought to create a State Police Service Commission, which shall comprise a Chairman to be appointed by the Governor subject to the confirmation of the State House of Assembly, a representative of the Federal Government to be appointed by the National Police Service Commission and two members (who must be indigenes of the respective State) to be appointed by the National Human Rights Commission.
On board is also a representative of the Public Complaints Commission, a representative of Labour, 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 (who must be a lawyer from the respective state), and a representative of the Nigerian Union of Journalist.
This manner of composition is expected to tame any possible excesses of a sitting governor. And the commission shall have powers to recommend the appointment of a Commissioner of Police, Deputy Commissioner of Police and Assistant Commissioner of Police to the National Police Service Commission.
Other responsibilities include the appointment, discipline, and removal of members of the state police below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police as well as other functions and powers as may be specified either in the Constitution or a Law of the House of Assembly of a State. However, in recommending the appointment of a Commissioner of Police, the Commission shall propose three qualified candidates to the National Police Service Commission.
However, the Bill could not make progress beyond the first reading until the 8th National Assembly expired. While some blamed it on limited time to undergo the cumbersome constitution amendment processes, other analysts were of the opinion that the body language of the presidency and the ruling party, APC, did not favour state police.
Ekweremadu to re-enact State Police Bill
DESPITE the unfortunate fate his Bill suffered in the last Senate dispensation, Ekweremadu has expressed hope of re-enacting it. His media adviser, Mr. Uche Anichukwu, at a recent radio programme monitored in Abuja, said there had been calls made for the Bill to be reintroduced in the 9th Assembly.
Anichukwu said, “The Senator has been receiving calls from across the country on the need to reintroduce the State Police Bill. I think the security realities in the country now are very clear and, even among his colleagues, the popular opinion is that the Bill should be reintroduced immediately.
“As a matter of fact, I just spoke with the Senator this morning and he said plans were underway to reintroduce the Bill along with his colleagues. It is an idea which time has come.”
On how the Bill would address the issues of funding and possible abuse among others, Anichukwu explained the Bill would likely place funding for each State Police Service on the first line charge. He also said the funds could be channelled directly to them through the National Police Service Commission so as to make them financially independent of the state governors.
He said, “Regarding the worry that some states may not have the resources to pay state police personnel, it is important to note that it shall not be compulsory on any state to establish a State Police. Just as the case of state universities, those who have the resources can start, while others who can’t continue to rely on federal universities, in this case, Federal Police.
“First, the idea is to model the issue of policing after what we have in the National Judicial Council.
“The Federal Police will be responsible for the maintenance of public security, preservation of public order and security of persons and property throughout the federation.
“The governor may give a lawful directive to the Commissioner of Police witah respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order as he may consider necessary. The commissioner is also empowered by the Bill to request that matter be referred to the State Police Service Commission for review if he feels that the directive is unlawful or contradicts general policing standards or practice.
“In such circumstances, the decision of the State Police Service Commission shall be final and shall not be inquired into by any court. Again, a governor cannot just wake up and sack a Commissioner of Police of his or her state. The commissioner shall only be removed by the governor upon the recommendation of the National Police Service Commission praying that he be so removed on grounds of misconduct in the performance of his official duties, serious breach of policing standards, among others.”
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