BY AMOS DUNIA, ABUJA – The legal hurdle for the setting up of State Police commenced on the floor of the Senate on Thursday as it scaled the first Reading of the Constitution Alteration Bill for the Establishment of State Police and other related matters was taken at the Senate plenary on Thursday.
The Bill sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate and the Chairman, Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has all members of the Committee as co-sponsors.
The Bill specifically seeks to establish ‘The Federal Police and State Police,’ while also creating the 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”, and “provide state policing for any state that is unable to operate a State Police until such a time that a State Police is established by the House of Assembly of that state”.
The Bill proposes the appointment of the Commissioner of Police of a state by the Governor on the advice of the National Police Service Commission and subject to confirmation of the House of Assembly, while the term of office of the Commissioner of Police shall be for a period of five years only or until he attains a retirement age prescribed by law, whichever is earlier.
“The Governor or such other Commissioner of the Government of the State as he may authorise in that behalf 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 directions or cause them to be complied with.
“Provided that where the Commissioner of Police feels that any order given under this subsection 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 and the decision of the State Police Service Commission shall be final”, it proposes.
Also, whereas a Commissioner of Police of a State may be removed on the grounds of misconduct, serious breach of policing standards, conviction by a court of law or tribunal, indictment by a judicial body or tribunal for corruption, participation in political activities, among others, such removal must be approved by two-thirds majority of the State House of Assembly.
It goes on to propose that 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”.
Meanwhile, The National Police Service Commission shall comprise representatives of the National Human Rights Commission, Public Complaints Commission, Labour, Nigeria Bar Association, Nigeria Union of Journalists, and the Attorney-General of each state, in addition to six retired police officers not below the rank of Assistant Inspector-General of Police as well as a Chairman to be confirmed by the Senate.
In the same vein, the State Police Service Commission shall comprise a representative of the Federal Government 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 states, a representative of the Public Complaints Commission, one representative of the Labour appointed by the Chairman of the state chapter, a representative of the NBA, and a representative of the NUJ.
Others are three retired police officers to be appointed by the Governor from each senatorial district and the Commission Chairman whom must all be confirmed by the State House of Assembly.
The Bill further provides that the State Police Service Commission shall be responsible for, among others, recommending the appointment of a Commissioner of Police, Deputy Commissioner of Police, and Assistant Commissioner of Police to the National Police Service Commission in addition to appointment, discipline, and removal of members of the state police below the rank of the Assistant Commissioner of Police.
The National Police Service Commission, on the other hand, shall be responsible for the appointment of persons to offices (other than the office of the Inspector-General of Police) in the Federal Police Service; exercising disciplinary control over members of the Federal Police; recommending to the Governor of a State the appointment of the Commissioner of Police, Deputy Commissioner of Police and Assistant Commissioners of Police of State Police; recommending to the Governor the discipline and removal of the Commissioner of Police, Deputy Commissioner of Police, and Assistant Commissioner of Police of State Police as well as supervising the activities of Federal and State Police and prescribing standards for all police forces in the country in training, criminal intelligence data bases, forensic laboratories, and render assistance to the State Police in areas as may be requested by such State Police.
Ekweremadu, who presided at plenary, assured that Bill would receive utmost attention.
“The Committee on Review of the 1999 Constitution has fulfilled its mandate. I am sure that we will take the Second Reading as soon as possible and probably send it for public hearing through the Committee so that we fast-track it as directed by the Senate”, he said.