OrderPaperToday – The House of Representatives has rejected the Nigeria Police Reform bill.
The bill sought to repeal repeal the Police Act, Cap. P19, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and enact the Nigeria Police Bill, 2019 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.
Senate had passed the bill and transmitted same to the green chamber. However, several members of the House raised issues with several clauses of the bill which they declared to be inconsistent with the constitution.
Leading the debate on the bill, Mohammed Monguno (APC) called on his colleagues to support the bill as it will “bring the Standard Operating Procedure of police in tandem with international best practices. Nigeria has been practicing democracy since 1999 with all the democratic best practices.”
He added that “this bill seeks to bring the key aspect of community policing where the police will be part and parcel of the community.”
Raising the issue of conflict with the constitution, Mr. Abubakar Lawal (APC, Adamawa) who is the Chairman House Committee on Police Affairs, stated that although the changes to the police act is long over due, unless the constitution is amended the bill will be impracticable to operate.
“There are so many changes since the first enactment of the Police act. Some of the provisions of the bill are inconsistent with the 1999 constitution. Unless we amend the constitution, we cannot implement the bill. The bill also proposed the reduction of the number of DIGs, are we moving forward or backward? The bill is also referring to the Police as police force which is against the constitution,” he said.
Also re-echoing the issues raised by Lawal, the deputy speaker, Lasun Yusuf said that the bill will further complicate policing.
He said: “Most of the provisions of this bill are against the constitution. This bill is complicating matters; talk about the confirmation of IG and commissioner of police. I have read a lot of clauses, let us all agree that we need state police. Amendment at committee of the whole will not take care of things. How can we talk about consultation with the governor when the commissioners of police are not answerable to the governors?”
Tobi Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu) in his contribution, also condemned the bill as contradictory, argued that the structure of the police is faulty and could only be rectified with the establishment of state police.
He said: “The present structure is defective. The governors have all agreed that there is a need for state police, judging by the crime rate, we need to consider the structure of the police. When you take an Anambra man to Borno, it will take him time to adjust.”
When the bill was put to vote, it was negatived. The Presiding Officer, Yakubu Dogara, had to take the vote again, and the “nays” had it.