LAWMAKERS in Nigeria’s House of Representatives are contemplating passing a bill that will offer constitutional backing to regional security operations like Amotekun and Ebubeagu in a bid to address the growing insecurity plaguing the nation.
Over recent years, Nigeria has become one of the most insecure places on earth with terrorists, kidnappers, bandits, armed Fulani herdsmen, rapists, etc, running riot. Overwhelmed by the crisis, the security forces have been hapless in the face of the onslaught, leading to the formation of regional security bodies to assist.
In 2019, the six governors of the southwest geo-political zone agreed to create the Amotekun Corps, that would serve as a regional security outfit. Them the five governors of the southeast geo-political zone decided to create a similar body called Ebubeagu and to offer these organisations legal backing, the House of Representatives is considering a bill that may ultimately lead to the establishment of local police forces.
Earlier this week, lawmakers began discussing plans to alter the 1999 constitution by considering a bill to amend the Principal Act to remove the police and other government security services from the exclusive legislative list and insert it in the concurrent legislative list. With that, both the federal and state governments will be able to legislate on the subject of security.
Sponsored by Hon Onofiok Luke, the lawmaker representing the Etinan/ Nsit Ibom/ Nsit Ubium Federal Constituency of Akwa Ibom State, the bill will seek to open the way for the creation of state police forces and other security services. Hon Luke said the primary responsibility of every government all over the world is to protect and preserve the lives and property of its citizens and to maintain law and order.
He argued that the federal structure of the country’s security does not encourage community policing or localisation of policing, saying that recruitment and subsequent deployment of police officers in their local area is one of the major ways of curbing crime. Such officers, the lawmaker stressed, understand the area, terrain, language, behaviour and attitude of the people he or she is policing.
Hon Luke said he is of the opinion that Nigeria, a country with over 201m people, is grossly under-policed with about 400,000 police personnel, adding that the number falls far short of the United Nation’s recommendation of ratio one policeman per 400 citizens. He explained that the constitution envisages Nigeria as a federal state, noting that allowing state governments to establish their police force and other security apparatuses would bring Nigeria into its original constitutional contemplation of a federal state.