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House Considers Giving Legal Backing to Amotekun, Ebubeagu

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The House of Representatives is contemplating constitutional backing to enable states establish their self-run police, writes Adedayo Akinwale

The current state of insecurity in the country under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is now the new normal. The horrific tales of killings, kidnappings, terrorism have become an everyday occurrence with Nigerians now looking on to God for their protection.

The daring attack on the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) a few days ago by terrorists was another indication that governance of the country which elicited high expectations at the beginning of the President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Nigerian Army General, administration has become rudderless, with many asking if a high profile military establishment could be brazenly attacked, then where else is safe?

The attack on the NDA has brought home an embarrassing reality: The Federal Government is overwhelmed. This apparent hopeless and helpless situation has forced various states to establish security outfits. To give more credence to this, the Governor of Kastina State, Hon. Aminu Bello Masari recently called on the people of the state to arm and defend themselves against bandits, and other unwanted killer elements like terrorists.

Despite the alarming state of insecurity, the creation of state security outfits like Amotekun and Ebubeagu was not without legal battles between the federal and the state governments. The seemingly overwhelmed federal government wants the status quo of a centralised policing and security system to remain despite its failure to secure lives and property of Nigerians

However, a legislation that will give more legal backing to the various security outfits established by various state governments to tackle insecurity in their domain is in the offing as the House of Representatives has resolved to alter the 1999 constitution by considering a bill to amend the Principal Act to remove Police and other government security services from the Exclusive Legislative List and insert it in the Concurrent Legislative List so that both federal and state governments can legislate on the subject.

The Bill sponsored by a member representing Etinan/ Nsit Ibom/ Nsit Ubium Federal Constituency of Akwa Ibom State in the House, Hon. Onofiok Luke seeks to alter the 1999 Constitution to provide for State Police and other state government security services to enhance security and preservation of lives and property in Nigeria.

The Lawmaker who led the debate when the bill was considered by the House said the primary responsibility of every government all over the world is to protect and preserve the lives and property of its citizens and to maintain law and order.

He argued amongst many other responsibilities of government, the responsibility of preserving lives and property ranks first.

Luke pointed out that the principle of social contract is chiefly anchored on this responsibility where the people relinquished and contracted their individual rights to the government for the protection of their lives and property. He noted that any failure on the part of the government to keep to this basic responsibility/contractual term portends danger.

The lawmaker lamented that many years after independence, Nigeria has continually been beset with insecurity ranging from terrorism, kidnapping, armed robbery, and domestic violence.

Luke said granted that there is no society without crime or manifestation of criminal behaviour, the inability to bring to the barest minimum crime is a scathing indictment on the current security architecture and structure in the country.

He added that the federal structure of the country’s security does not encourage community policing or localisation of policing, saying that recruitment and subsequent deployment of police officers in their local area is one of the major ways of curbing crime. Such officers, the lawmaker stressed, understand the area, terrain, language, behaviour and attitude of the people he or she is policing.

Luke was of the opinion that Nigeria, a country with over 201 million people, is grossly under-policed with about 400, 000 police personnel, adding that the number falls far short of the United Nation’s recommendation of ratio one policeman per 400 citizens.

The lawmaker explained that the Constitution envisages Nigeria as a federal state, noting that allowing state governments to establish their police force and other security apparatuses would bring Nigeria into its original constitutional contemplation of a federal state.

The objectives of the Bill according to Luke is to enhance greater security and preservation of lives and property in Nigeria’s federating units and in the country as a whole.

The bill also aims at enhancing maintenance and preservation of law and order; reduce incidents and occurrence of crimes in the country; establish community policing and install greater public participation in policing; and to support and provide assistance to federal police and other federal security agencies.

Summary of the Bill

This Bill seeks to excise Item 45 (Police and other government security services) from the Exclusive Legislative List and place the same on the Concurrent Legislative List to allow different state governments to legislate on security matters, which will effectively give state governments powers to establish state police.

The Bill comprises five clauses. Clause 1 generally alters the provision of the Principal Act, while Clause 2 establishes the State Police Council and State Police Service Commission just as we have at the federal level.

Clause 3 of the Bill alters the Second Schedule to the Constitution by deleting from the Exclusive Legislative List police and government security agencies and inserting the Item in the Concurrent Legislative List, thereby empowering both the National Assembly and Houses of Assembly of states to legislate on police and other security matters.

Clause 4 provides for the composition and functions of the State Police Council and State Police Service Commission. The function of the council, amongst others, shall be the organisation and administration of the State Police Force while that of the Commission shall generally be the appointment of persons to offices in the State Police Force. However, Clause 5 contains the citation of the Bill.

Citation of the Bill

The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Cap.C23, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 (in this Bill referred to as “the Principal Act”) is altered as set out in this Bill. Alteration of Cap. C23, LFN, 2004.

Section 197(1) of the Principal Act is altered by inserting after paragraph (d), new paragraphs “(e)” – “(f)” –which states: (e) State Police Council; and (f) State Police Service Commission.”

In the proposed bill, The Second Schedule to the Principal Act is altered–in Part I, by deleting item 45 from the Exclusive Legislative List; and in Part II, by inserting after item 30 on the Concurrent Legislative List, new items “31” – “32”.

The Section 31 now states: The National Assembly may make laws for the establishment of the Federal Police and other Federal Government security services.

Section 32 also states: A House of Assembly may make laws for the establishment of State Police and other state government security services.

Also in the proposed legislation, the Third Schedule to the Principal Act is altered by inserting after paragraph (8), new paragraphs “9” – “12”

Paragraph 9 in the proposed bill now reads: A State Police Council shall comprise the following members: the Governor, who shall be the Chairman; the Chairman of the State Police Service Commission; and State Commissioner of Police.

While paragraph 10 of the proposed bill says: The functions of a State Police Council shall include:

(a) The organisation and administration of a State Police Force and all other matters relating thereto (not being matters relating to the use and operational control of the Force or the appointment, disciplinary control and dismissal of members of the Force);

(b) The general supervision of a State Police Force; and (c) advising the Governor on the appointment of State Commissioner of Police.

Also, paragraph 11 of the proposed bill says: A State Police Service Commission shall comprise the following members – a Chairman; and such number of other persons, not less than five but not more than seven, as may be prescribed by a Law made by the House of Assembly of a State.

Paragraph 12 says: The Commission shall have power to – appoint persons to offices (other than the office of the State Commissioner of Police) in the State Police Force; and

(b)Dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over persons holding any office referred to in sub paragraph (a).

QUOTE

The Bill sponsored by a member representing Etinan/ Nsit Ibom/ Nsit Ubium Federal Constituency of Akwa Ibom State in the House, Hon. Onofiok Luke seeks to alter the 1999 Constitution to provide for State Police and other state government security services to enhance security and preservation of lives and property in Nigeria

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BREAKING: Hon. Risikat is Dead, King Sunny Ade’s wife.

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Hon. Risikat Adejoke Adegeye,a former member of Lagos state house of Assembly, Amuwo odofin constituency 1 and former commissioner has passed on.

Hon. Adegeye was one of the wives of veteran Juju Msician, Chief Sunday Adeniyi Adegeye also known as King Sunny Ade. Details of late Hon. Adegeye’s death is still sketchy as at the time of filing in this report.

She reportedly died in the early hours of Tuesday. The cause of her death was not known as at the time of filing this report

May her gentle soul rest in peace

 

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BREAKING: Troop of soldiers in Abia as court hears Nnamdi Kanu’s suit against FG

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Security has been tightened up at the Abia State High Court located at Ikot Ekpene Road Umuahia, the state capital, as the suit filed by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, comes up for hearing today.

Recollect that the secessionist, had through his special counsel, Mr. Aloy Ejimakor, sued the Federal Government of Nigeria over his extradition from Kenya few months ago.

The suit is demanding that Kanu be returned to Kenya where he was allegedly extradited from and subsequently to Britain where he was residing and N5 billion is also demanded from the Federal Government over alleged violation of his fundamental rights.

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Olatunji Bello, the new LASU VC Assumes office.

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Professor Ibiyemi Olatunji Bello Monday, the ninth substantive Vice-Chancellor of the Lagos State University (LASU), pledged that the welfare of the staff and students will be uppermost in her administration, adding that the management would create more opportunities for their advancement.

Prof. Olatunji-Bello, who assumed office assumed office amid fanfare, was welcomed into the Ojo main campus of the 37-year-old institution as early as 8a.m, with songs and dance in a carnival-like reception by students, who were adorned in a purple t-shirts with the inscription “31st LASUSU welcomes Prof. Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello, 9th Vice Chancellor of LASU.”

The appointment of Olatunji-Bello was disclosed last week by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso following the approval by the Lagos State Governor and Visitor to the university, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

Olatunji-Bello, a Professor of Physiology succeeded Prof. Lanre Fagbohun, a Professor of Environmental Law and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), whose five-year single tenure expired on January 11, 2021.

The new Vice-Chancellor, who was received at the Iba Gate and escorted to the Babatunde Raji Fashola Senate Building by the happy students and other members of the LASU community, promised that the new administration would ensure that the learning environment is conducive and competitive with provision of relevant infrastructure, equipment and facilities.

Prof. Olatunji-Bello was received at the foyer of the Senate Building by the university’s management, led by the Acting Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Oyedamola Oke, who was appointed on January 11, 2021 to avoid a vacuum created by the inability of the university to name a substantive Vice-Chancellor to take over from Prof. Fagbohun.

“Your welfare is important to me. We will also ensure the University Scholars Award is revamped. All university scholars will get a 50 per cent refund of their school fees yearly. We will also provide studentship employment opportunities,” the Vice-Chancellor said amid loud ovations from the students.

While addressing members of staff, Prof. Olatunji-Bello, however, sought their support and cooperation for her administration, even as she called for peace and stability to reign foremost in the university.

She said: “I want to thank you for giving me this warm welcome. I promise that your welfare will be paramount to me and you will get whatever is due to you. All your allowances will be paid. However, I want to seek your support and urge that we all allow peace to reign for the good of our university.”

The Vice-Chancellor after addressing the staff later commenced meetings with various stakeholders of the university, including staff and students’ unions.

 

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