President of the Senate Ahmad Lawan has said that the leadership of the National Assembly will no longer tolerate the unnecessary killing of Nigerians by criminals threatening the nation’s security.
He also demanded for a complete restructuring of the security architecture of the Nigeria Police Force, equipping of police training institutions and training of men and officers of the force.
Lawan made this known Thursday in his concluding remarks on a Bill for an Act to Repeal the Police Act and enact the Nigeria Police Bill, 2019 to provide for a framework for the Police Service.
Speaking on the security situation in the country, he said: “We are in a very unusual time. When Nigeria was at war at one stage, there was very rigorous recruitment of soldiers because the situation demanded that.
“I think we are in a similar situation and it is only fair for us as leaders of this country to take this challenge.”
“This bill should consider the restructuring of the command and structure of the Police. The present structure is not working, the Police Trust Fund is already accruing, the last count I was told there was about N52 billion or so, but it is not about throwing money to the Police. You need to adjust the structure, otherwise that money will just be a sinking fund.
“So, we should be in a hurry to recruit, to train and retrain. Equipping the police training institutions is supposed to be one vital aspect of getting our security arrangements right, and this is something that we have to do in a hurry, even if it means going for supplementary budget, so be it.
“The kind of situation we are in, with the lives that are lost on a daily basis is something we cannot tolerate, and in fact, we should be on the right side of history,” the Senate president further said.
Earlier, sponsor of the bill, Senator Haliru Jika, in his lead debate said the piece of legislation sought primarily to provide for the framework for the police service and ensure cooperation and partnership between the police and communities in maintaining peace and combating crime and insecurity in Nigeria.
The lawmaker added that when passed, the bill would among other things, address the recurrent challenges and deficiencies in structure, appointments, promotions, discipline, postings, trainings, kitting, weaponry, living condition, pension and retirement benefits.
“The general welfare of our dear gallant officers, within the Nigeria Police Force, have persisted, largely because of the draconian and outdated statutes that guide policing in Nigeria.
“The present Police Act is not only fraught with deficiencies, but strangely, the major organization, duties, and powers of the Nigeria Police Force, as encapsulated in the present Act, have largely remained as set out in the 1943 Police Act.
“It is in recognition of the inherent shortcomings in the extant Police Act and the seemingly intractable challenge of insecurity in our country that has necessitated the proposed repeal of the extant Act and the enactment of a new one in its place, in consonance with the dictates of international best practices and realities of present-day, Nigeria”, he said .
He said violent crimes, such as terrorism, kidnapping, armed robbery and banditry, suicide bombing, ethno-religious killings, suicides, election violence and other forms of nefarious activities, have characterised daily living in Nigeria.
Citing a 2019 report by the Global Peace Index (GPI), the lawmaker who Chairs the Committee on Police Affairs said Nigeria ranked 148th among 163 independent States and territories.
The bill, he said, also sought to amend the extant Police Act in respect to the appointment, removal and tenure of the Inspector-General of Police.
Jika disclosed that since 1999, Nigeria had 10 Inspector-General of Police, one which made for an average tenure of 2 years in service.
The lawmaker explained that the introduction of community policing by the bill is a “paradigm shift from the traditional police system to a community-participatory system of policing, uniting ordinary citizens in their respective communities with the police in the prevention, detection and resolving crimes.”
In their separate contributions, senators condemned the spate of killings across the country and called for the speedy consideration and passage of the new Police Bill by the National Assembly.
Specifically, Senator Abbo Elisha Ishaku (PDP – Adamawa North) in his contribution said :“South African has fifty million people, yet they have 1.9 million policemen policing them. In Nigeria, over two hundred million people are policed by three hundred thousand policemen and we want security, how do we want to do it?
“If you look at the funding of the police, it is nothing to write about. Few days ago, we brought the IGP here and he told us that they are doing operation somewhere. The next day it was on the front page of newspapers.
“They attacked trains in Kaduna and it was successful, and their helicopter was shot at with AA-52 rifles. Today, the Nigerian police are still bearing AK-47 rifles and Boko Haram are using GPMG.
“Mr. President, I’m supporting this bill holistically. We should consider establishing police training school in each command, so that we can put as many men as possible in the Nigerian police”
The bill which scaled second reading during plenary was referred by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to the Committee on Police Affairs for further legislative work.