Ahead of the presentation of the report of the Senate Committee on Constitution Review, Senators have bowed to President Muhammadu Buhari, thereby rejecting the creation of State Police.
The Senate Constitution Review of the 1999 Constitution is chaired by the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, All Progressives Congress, APC, Delta Central and when inaugurated in August 2020, it was saddled with the responsibility of coming up with a reviewed constitution, with the overall interest of Nigerians at heart.
As part of moves to complete its work to enable Senators to vote on the various issues, the Committee has been engaged in Marathon meetings since last week, with one of such meetings held on Wednesday last week after plenary.A source said the issue of state Police has been rejected by the Senators as it will not form one of the issues that have been adopted when the report will be presented at plenary.
According to the source, voices against the creation of State police outnumbered those that are for it against the backdrop that members of the All Progressives Congress, APC are speaking the language of the party and that of President Buhari who had kicked against State Police.When asked if State Police has been adopted by the Committee, the sources responded severely, saying” No State Police”
Recall that President Buhari early this month had again rejected the institution of state police in the country.
Speaking during an interview with Channels Television last night, the President said: “State police is not an option. Find out the relationship between local governments and the governors. Are the third tiers of government getting what they are supposed to get constitutionally? Are they getting it? Let the people in local government tell you the truth; the fight between local governments and the governor.”
President Buhari’s position, which came a day after a Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP defied the order of Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo- Olu to vacate the Magodo Phase 2 Estate area of the state, elicited sharp criticisms in the polity with a host of groups and eminent Nigerians insisting on state police.
In a swipe reaction to the President, former Federal Commissioner for Information and South-South Leader, Chief Edwin Clark asked President Buhari to listen to the popular opinion of Nigeria by establishing State Police that forms one of the cardinal ingredients in a Federal system of government.
According to Clark, the excuse by President Buhari for kicking against the creation of state police that state governors will misuse it was not be obtainable because the Federal government is also using the Nigeria Police Force to persecute perceived political opponents, thereby undermining the National Assembly and obstructing free speeches.
Recall that Senator Omo- Agege had at a briefing in May last year assured that the report where Senators will vote on the issues will be ready in July before the lawmakers embark on their annual recess.
He had disclosed that prior to the close of submission of memoranda, the Committee had received 250 memoranda, but have been suppressed into sixteen issues of discourse, adding then that there was still room for fresh submissions at the six geopolitical zones of the country where the zonal public hearings were held simultaneously in all the centres on Wednesday 26th and Thursday 27th May 2021.
According to Omo- Agege, Gender Equality for Women, Federal Structure and Power devolution Local Government / Local Government Autonomy, State Local Government Creation, Electoral Reform, State Police, Judicial Reforms, Time-line for Assent of Bills and Passage of Appropriation Bill, others would form issues of discourse in the process of the Constitution review.
Omo-Agege had said, ” by the time the window for receiving these memoranda closed, the Committee had received over 250 memoranda. The memoranda have been analysed and the Committee have held several consultations and meetings to deliberate on the process and submissions in preparation for the Public hearings at the national and zonal levels.
Following from the analysis of the memoranda submitted, the issues have increased to sixteen as listed below: Gender Equity/Increased participation of Women and Vulnerable groups in governance, The Federal Structure in governance and Power Devolution, Local Government Administration/Local Government autonomy, Public Revenue, Fiscal Federalism and Revenue Allocation Constitutional Provision for the Establishment of State Police, Judicial Reform – Adjudication of election and pre-election matters and other justice delivery concerns.
“Electoral Reforms that will make INEC deliver transparent, credible, free and fair elections, Political parties, Independent candidature and election management Socio-economic rights as contained in Chapter II of the Constitution.
Residency and indigeneship Immunity – Removal of immunity in prima facie criminal cases Timeline for Assent of Bills and Passage of Appropriation Bill; States and local government creation Strengthening the independence of institutions like the office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Auditor General of the Federation and Office of the Attorney General of the Federation. F.C.T. Administration, the Legislature and Legislative Bureaucracy Constitutional Role for Traditional Rulers.”
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