The Nigerian Senate has said state policing and proper funding of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) are the solutions to the banditry in some North-Western states of Nigeria.
Bukola Saraki, Nigeria’s Senate President, said this during the plenary on Wednesday, following a motion by Senators Emmanuel Bwacha from Taraba State and his colleague from Zamfara State, Kabir Marafa.
The lawmakers berated the Nigerian government over its inability to tackle the alarming rate of insecurity in the country, stressing that introduction of state Police remained the only solution to the menace.
Responding to the motion of the two lawmakers, the Senate President said apart from the establishment of community or state police, the funding of the Nigeria Police Force was essential to tackle the menace.
He said: “From the contributions we have had, I think it is key that we begin to look at the problem and look for long-term solutions. I think that what we did yesterday (Tuesday) in trying to strengthen the funding of the Police through the Police Reform Bill is right.
“The sooner that we can pass that bill will also help us in addressing the insecurity challenges.
“But more importantly is that we must go back to what a lot of us had been advocating here that there is the need for us to have state or community police. It is the way forward. Otherwise, we will continue to run into these problems.
“On the area of oversight, there is a lot also that we need to do to ensure that we hold the security agencies accountable. And we need to move very fast in this area.”
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In its resolution, the Senate commended Nigerians, irrespective of cultural, religious and ethnic differences, for coming out in large numbers to show solidarity with the plight of victims of banditry in Zamfara.
The Senate also deliberated on making provision for N10billion in the 2019 appropriation bill as intervention fund to cater for Internally Displaced Persons and other persons affected by the activities of bandits in Zamfara State.
The Senate also urged the government to set up an ad hoc committee to be known as Presidential Initiative on Zamfara with a 10-year lifespan to manage the said funds and subsequent allocations and donations.
Marafa, who rose through orders 42 and 52 of the Senate standing rules to move his motion, said the problem of insecurity in Zamfara State was deteriorating daily, adding that this called for urgent legislative intervention.
Marafa said: “Since 2011, as a result of the unabating activities of the criminals in the state, roughly estimated 11,000 males have been killed, leaving behind an average of 22,000 widows and by extension, 44,000 orphans.
“These figures are just by conservative estimates because the figures are higher. Bandits and heavily armed kidnappers operate with little or no resistance in Gusau, the state capital, making less than 75 per cent of the people in Zamfara not to be sleeping in their houses.
“The situation has nothing to do with politics, because my own blood sister was brutally murdered in her matrimonial home in February this year and even two of my cousins were killed outside the state capital a few weeks back.”
Bwacha, on his own part, alerted the red chamber to the series of kidnappings in his state and suggested that there should be legislative backing for individuals who want to carry arms for self-defence.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, commended Marafa for always bringing the deteriorating security situation in Zamfara to the front burner of discourse in the Senate.
He said: “For the government to tackle the security problem headlong, the abnormality of Nigeria being the only federation with centralized police, must be addressed.”
The Senate Chief Whip, Olusola Adeyeye, said the problem of the country was the constitution itself, which he noted, provided for an “over- centralized federation or better put, unitary system as against a federal system of government.”
According to him, as long as the problematic constitution is not amended by way of removing policing from the exclusive list to the concurrent list to pave the way for state police, criminality at local levels will continue unabated.