OrderPaperToday– The House of Representatives on Thursday passed for second reading, a bill seeking to establish Federal Roads and Highways Forests Guard that would tackle the menace of kidnapping, banditry, terrorism and other forms of security challenges within the country.
The bill, if passed into law, provides that highways, forests and other places that need security attention will be manned by officials of the establishment.
Entitled “A Bill to create Federal Roads and Highways Forest Guards to detect and prevent crime, banditry, kidnapping, terrorism and violence, apprehend offenders, preserve law and order and protect lives and properties strictly within all forest lying 100 metres adjacent to Federal Roads and Highways in Nigeria”, it was sponsored by Mr Usman Shiddi (APC, Taraba).
Leading debate on the bill, Shididi explained that Section 4 dwells on the functions of the agency, saying, “the principal responsibilities, amongst other things, shall be to detect and prevent crime, banditry, kidnapping, robbery, terrorism and violence; apprehend offenders, preserve law and order and protect lives and property in all forests strictly lying 100 metres adjacent to all federal roads, highways and railways in Nigeria.”
Section 2, he continued, is an interpretation that clearly defines the boundaries of operation of the proposed agency.
“By the interpretative provisions of this Bill, Federal Roads and Highways Forests mean such areas of land, whether or not covered by vegetation and trees, that lie 100 metres adjacent to all federal roads, highways and railways in Nigeria and shall not extend to any purposes for animal husbandry or ranching.”
The bill’s passage was, however, not smooth sailing as it took the intervention of the deputy speaker, Idris Wase, to move it to second reading. Shiddi later explained while speaking to journalists after plenary that it was because they did not really understand what the bill stands to achieve as he was not given sufficient time to speak on its objectives.
“You know the presiding officer gave me very little time so I could not explain in details what the bill seeks to achieve so I believe they did not understand the importance of the bill but I am excited it was passed at the end of the day,” he said.