By Aaron Ossai
Worried about the spate of insecurity; rampant kidnappings, terrorism, civil strife and threats to Nigeria’s corporate existence, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, has called for proper equipping, staffing and training of men of the Nigeria Police.
Speaking while opening a public hearing organised by the House Committee on Defence on 6 defence related Bills at the National Assembly, he also stressed that it has become necessary and urgent to re-examine the current architecture of policing in Nigeria to make it structurally strong and effective.
Dogara noted that though the military is doing well in assisting the police in maintaining internal security, its involvement in civil matters makes the fact that the Nigeria Police Force is ill equipped, improperly manned and too weak financially to perform its duties more glaring.
This situation, he said, must be addressed in order to fulfill one of the most important constitutional duties of government, which is to ensure the security and welfare of the people.
While reaffirming the commitment of the House of Representatives to partner with the executive to provide proper funding, the Speaker called “for the proper equipping, staffing and training of the Nigerian Police, which is the civil authority designed to protect Nigerians in a democracy in the ordinary course of events.”
“The House of Representatives stands ready to play its part working in concert with the Executive branch towards proper funding and support of the Police to play its role. The armed Forces are doing a great job of assisting in maintenance of internal Security currently as the Police is ill equipped, improperly manned and too weak financially to perform its duties.
“It has also become necessary and urgent to re-examine the current architecture of policing in Nigeria to make it structurally strong and effective. The spate of insecurity, rampant kidnappings, terrorism, civil strife and threats to our corporate existence as a nation are too weighty and too important to be left unaddressed or to continue to be treated in a business as usual manner. As a Government we owe it a duty to ensure that Nigerians do not continue to die in in their numbers since the most important constitutional duty of the State is the Security and welfare of the people”, he added.
Commenting on one of the Bills, Dogara disclosed that the House will revisit the issue of deleting S. 315(2) from the Constitution in the ongoing constitutional review exercise to limit the powers of the president to amend existing laws.
He said, “With respect to HB. 70, dealing with confirmation of appointment of Service Chiefs, I must say that this bill represents the correct position of the law and judicial authorities. I will dwell a little bit on this bill as it has far reaching constitutional significance for both the National Assembly and the President.
“In this regard, I wish to draw your attention to the fact that this matter was extensively canvassed in the case of FESTUS KEYAMO VS. PRESIDENT , FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA and 4 others, Suit No.FHC/ ABJ/CS/611/08, where the Federal High Court in a landmark decision held that S. 18 of the Armed Forces which is in pari materia with the current amendment sought by this Bill is not inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution and therefore valid. The Court set aside the Armed Forces Modification Order, 2008, No. 50, made by President Yar’adua purportedly pursuant to S.315(2) of the Constitution, which deleted the requirement for National Assembly confirmation of appointment of Service Chiefs, as unconstitutional.
“This case dramatizes the danger of leaving S. 315(2) of the Constitution as part of our laws. It was meant to be a transitional provision. We will take the earliest opportunity to revisit the issue of deleting S. 315(2) from the Constitution in the ongoing constitutional review exercise, and hope that the House of Representatives will then rise to the occasion to do its duty in this respect.”
The 6 Bills undergoing public hearing, all sponsored by members of the House, are A Bill for an Act to amend the Armed Forces Act, to make the appointment of Service Chiefs subject to confirmation by the National Assembly, A Bill for an Act to establish the Security Services Welfare Infrastructure Development Commission to provide among other things NG’s, management and review the state of welfare infrastructure of the Security Services and for other matters connected therewith and A Bill for an Act to amend the Armed Forces Act, Cap.A20, Laws of the Federation, 2004 to provide for the appointment of Chief of Defence Staff.
Others are A Bill for an Act to repeal the Defence Industry Corporation of Nigeria Act, and enact the Defence Industry Corporation of Nigeria and for other related matters connected therewith, A Bill for an Act to amend the Armed Forces Act, to among other things, provide for specific duties for the Armed Forces Reserve in order to serve as a Rapid Response Mechanism with capacity to intervene in Emergency and Internal Security where the Nigerian Police is overwhelmed as well as A Bill for an Act to amend the Armed Forces Act, Cap.A20, Laws of the Federation, 2004 to provide for the Retirement age of Officers of the Nigerian Armed Forces and for other matters connected therewith.