27 November 2012

Nigeria: State Police - Governors Meet Today to Discuss Options

The governors of the 36 states of the federation will Tuesday meet to discuss the two options presented to it by the Chairman of the National Assembly Committee on Constitution Amendment and Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.

One of the options before the governors is: "Section 215 of the Constitution which requires the directive of the governors to be approved by the president to allow the governors exercise effective control and influence over the police contingents in their states."

According to a copy of the National Assembly presentation to the governors obtained by THISDAY, "The powers of the governors should be limited to making policing policies and should not extend to the general operational use and control of the police except in extreme emergencies.

"For example, in Britain while it is true that the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police is responsible to the Home Minister for general policy and administration, the commissioner is solely responsible for operation, use and control", the National Assembly Committee Chairman on Constitution Amendment said.

Also the draft presentation said that "Specific terms for states commissioners might also be considered as a posting for three or four years akin to the posting of foreign service officers in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"At the level of the state, civilian oversight committees might be created by the constitution to maintain oversight over the police in the state; the composition including official representation from such bodies as the NBA, the state executive, legislature etc. Rather than the present Police Community Relations Committees without any specific oversight functions; this committee should have the power to order investigation of police misconduct and liaise closely with the Police Service Commission in making recommendations relating to discipline" the draft documents by the National Assembly said.

As part of options before the governors, "In the event of the executive head's arbitral use of the police for improper purposes, the Police Service Commission should have the powers to remove such commissioner."

In the second option, it will involve amending sections 214 and 215 of the constitution that empowers the federal government to exclusively control the police and reflect power decentralisation.

By this option, item 45 of part one of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution places the police in the concurrent list to preserve the authority of the Federal Government to exercise a level of checks and balances on the operations of state police.

In this option, the federal police should exercise oversight functions over the activities of the state police.

Also, the meeting of the governors will discuss the botched out of court settlement between the Federal Government and the governors on the withdrawals from the federation account.

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