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State Police: Governors To Appoint Police Commissioners, Bill Lists conditions For CPs Sacking

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A bill seeking the amendment of the 1999 Constitution to empower governors to appoint state commissioners of police scaled second reading on the floor of the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

In the alteration to the constitution under consideration, a commissioner of police appointed from among the serving policemen in the state will head the proposed state police in a long-awaited move to decentralise the Nigeria Police Force which has failed to address the spiralling security crisis confronting the country.

The country has been under assault by bandits, kidnappers, and other nefarious characters that daily launch violent attacks on citizens, many of whom are kidnapped, killed, or maimed.

Though the police authorities had initiated various security operations and also deployed more operatives across the country to tackle the insecurity, the crime wave had yet to abate as gunmen operated freely in several urban areas and rural communities.

Titled, ‘A Bill for an Act to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to Provide for Establishment of State Police and Related Matters,’ the bill, sponsored by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Benjamin Kalu, and 14 others, put the police on the concurrent list.

In the 1999 Constitution, policing is on the exclusive legislative List and therefore, under the direct control of the Federal Government.

Leading the debate on the general principles of the bill, the co-sponsor and member representing Ilorin West/Asa Federal Constituency, Tolani Shagaya noted that the primary purpose of government as enshrined in section 14(2)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, is the security and welfare of the citizens.

He added that in the past few years, the nation’s collective security had been greatly challenged, noting that as a result, state police had become inevitable to augment the efforts of the Federal Government to make the country safe for all.

Highlighting some of the key innovations in the proposed alteration bill, he said, “The transfer of police from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent list, a move that effectively empowers states to have state-controlled policing; the introduction of a comprehensive framework to ensure cohesion as well as accountability and uniform standards between the federal police and state police; the provision of prescribed rigorous safeguards preventing unwarranted interference by the federal police in state police affairs, emphasizing collaboration and intervention only under well-defined circumstances.’’

Shagaya further listed other key provisions of the bill to include the establishment of the state police service commissions as distinct from the Federal Police Service Commission with clearly defined roles and jurisdictions, a re-calibration of the National Police Council to include the chairmen of the state police service commissions, emphasising the collaborative and consultative nature of policing in our federal system.

Other provisions are the recognition of the possible financial challenges that may be faced by state police which would require the Federal Government to provide grants or aid, subject to the approval of the National Assembly, thus ensuring adequate resources for effective policing.

The proposed amendment also provides that the appointment of the state commissioner of police by the governor shall be on the recommendation of the Federal Police Service Commission and the state assembly’s approval.

  • Conditions For CP’s Removal

However, the CP can be removed by the governor on the recommendation of the Federal Police Service Commission, subject to two-thirds of the state assembly.

Section 215 (4) of the bill provides that, “A state police shall be headed by a commissioner of police who shall be appointed by the governor of the state on the advice of the Federal Police Service Commission from among serving members of the state police subject to confirmation by the state House of Assembly.’’

Section 216 (3) read, “A Commissioner of Police of a state shall only be removed by the governor upon the recommendation of the Federal Police Service Commission praying that he be so removed on the grounds of (a) misconduct in the performance of his official duties (b) breach of policing standards, law, regulation, and code of conduct (c) conviction of any offence involving fraud or dishonesty by a court of law or tribunal and (d) bankruptcy and mental incapacity.’’

It stated that the governor or commissioner under him may give the commissioner of police lawful directive but if considered illegal, the police commissioner may refer the order to the state service commission, which is empowered to take the final decision.

“The governor or such other commissioner of the government of the state as he may authorise on that behalf may give to the commissioner of police such lawful directions concerning the maintenance and securing of public safety and order as he may consider necessary, and the commissioner of police shall comply with those directions or cause them to be complied with.”

Furthermore, the National Assembly shall do certification of the state police service commission bi-annually to make sure it meets national standards.

Section 216 (b) of the bill empowers the state police to bear such arms as may be determined by an Act of the National Assembly.

In all, the proposal contains 18 clauses to alter sections 34, 35, 39, 42, 84, 89 and 129 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as altered).

The bill also seeks to alter sections 153, 197, 214, 215, and 216 as well as Chapter IV Part III, Second Schedule, Part II of the Third Schedule, and Part III of the Third Schedule of the Constitution.

  • Federal Police

In the proposed legislation, section 214 of the Constitution (Establishment of Federal and State Police) is altered to distinguish the federal from the state police.

Section 214 (3a) reads, “The federal police shall be responsible for the maintenance of public security, preservation of public order and security of persons and property throughout the federation to the extent provided for under this Act or by an Act of the National Assembly; and

“(b) be responsible the maintenance of public security, preservation of public order and security of persons and property within a State to the extent that the State has power to make laws under this constitution.’’

Subject to the provisions of the constitution, the bill states that the federal police shall not interfere with the operations of any state police or the internal security affairs of any state except to contain serious threats to public order where it is shown that there is a complete breakdown of law and order within a state and the state police are unable to contain the threat.

The federal police can only intervene where the governor requests their intervention to prevent or contain a breakdown of law and order in the state.

Section 216 (1) of the Constitution was also altered to provide the basis for the removal from office of the Inspector General of Police.

Contributing in support of the bill, Ahmed Jaha representing Damboa, Gwoza/Chibok Federal Constituency, Borno State, stated, “It is not the responsibility of the military to help in the maintenance of internal security. They are involved because of the breakdown of our internal security mechanisms.’’

Also speaking, the member representing Ikorodu Federal Constituency, Lagos State, Babajimi Benson, noted that it is the job of the police to maintain law and order.

According to him, “The about 400, 000 policemen we have today cannot effectively cater for the over 200 million Nigerians. If the 36 states of the federation feel they have the funding, they should be allowed to establish state police provided such is not used to perpetrate political ambitions.’’

Other lawmakers who spoke in support of the bill included Aliyu Madaki (Kano) Ademorin Kuye (Lagos) and Bello Kumo (Gombe).

But the member representing Jibia/Kaita Federal Constituency, Sada Soli, expressed misgivings, citing the financial implication of state police at a time when many states were struggling to meet their financial responsibility to their workforce.

  • Former Police Commissioner

Speaking on the bill, a former Assistant Inspector General of Police, Ali Amodu, stated that while there were fears about the powers being granted to the governors to have control over the state police, it would strengthen the powers of the judiciary, noting that in the end, the citizens would benefit more from giving control of the police to the states.

He noted, “The constitution even provides that they are the Chief Security Officers of their states. If they should have control over the police, the judiciary will be so strengthened that if the governor wants to use the police against his opponents, his opponents will go to court and seek redress.

“My view is that we should not be afraid, we are having a lot of security challenges today, and we should not be afraid of testing this because it is happening in other countries. But of course, it will need an amendment of the Constitution.’’

Endorsing the control of state police by the governors as proposed by the lawmakers, Amodu said any abuse of the police could be addressed by the court.

“Yes, there is no doubt that there are going to be instances of abuse, but this abuse can be taken care of, if we seek redress in court. We have to experiment with this thing. You will see the advantages and disadvantages of anything you want to experiment with.

“But I say in conclusion that the advantages we are going to have from allowing the states to have control of their police, and provide them with equipment, the citizens tend to benefit more,” he said.

In his contribution, a retired Commissioner of Police, Emmanuel Ojukwu said, “State police or no state police, it is a matter of the constitution. Our constitution says that there shall be only one police force.

“If Nigeria wants to have state police, they should amend the constitution and they should go ahead and create the state police. But right now, every state has police of its own but they are not called police by law. That is why we have Amotekun, etc. If we amend the constitution and allow the state to call them by name, such as Kano State Police, etc, no problem.

“Governors already have these avenues working. A good number of them in the state are armed and licensed by the police to hold arms. If all they want is for state police that have been created to begin to have sophisticated weapons, no problem. It is all Nigeria.

“The Federal Police as of now is not as efficient as it should be because the Federal Government that is funding the police is not giving it what it needs. If the states create their police and give it what it needs, there will not be any problem.”

On its part, the Rivers State Government supported the bill on the state police.

The state Commissioner of Information and Communications, Joseph Johnson, in an interview with one of our correspondents on Tuesday, said the bill would strengthen policing and improve security.

He further said the state Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, was privy to the meeting with the President recently when the issue of state Police dominated discussions.

 

Credit: The Punch

BIG STORY

Report Excessive Price Increases, Unscrupulous Exploitation Of Consumers — FCCPC Urges Nigerians

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The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has said that business that engage in price-fixing will face swift legal action.

It called attention to the burden that this practice places on the financial security and well-being of consumers and exhorted them to denounce such acts.

This was revealed by the FCCPC in a statement that was published on its official X (formerly known as Twitter) handle on Sunday.

The statement read, “The FCCPC acknowledges that the rising cost of essential goods impacts consumers’ well-being and economic stability.

“While we recognise that the commission cannot directly control prices, we are committed to safeguarding consumers’ interests and ensuring fair market practices, necessitating fair pricing.

“Arbitrary price increases stemming from untoward practices like price gouging and conspiracy to manipulate supply violate existing laws.

“The commission will not hesitate to invoke Section 17(s) of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act (FCCPA) 2018 against any perpetrator of such acts. This section prohibits obnoxious trade practices and unscrupulous exploitation of consumers.”

The statement urged Nigerians to stay vigilant and report any unfair trade practices they encounter.

It added, “We encourage consumers to remain vigilant and report unfair trade practices to the FCCPC.

“Consumers can provide details, including the conduct, location of perpetrators, and other relevant information for investigation, through [email protected].

“The FCCPC remains committed to promoting fair competition, protecting consumers, and fostering a regulated marketplace. We appreciate citizens’ vigilance and encourage active participation in reporting any violations.”

Earlier report in February had it that FCCPC closed a popular supermarket in the Garki area of Abuja, Sahad Store, for lack of transparency in products pricing.

Similarly, it also encouraged electricity consumers to report distribution companies that failed to comply with the capping of estimated bills for unmetered customers.

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NLC, TUC Demand N615,000 Minimum Wage For Workers In Fresh Proposal

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Organised labour, comprising the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), has made a fresh demand of N615,000 as the new minimum wage for workers in the country.

According to The Punch, an impeccable source, who is an executive of organised labour, under anonymity, said that the new wage of N615,000 monthly was reached after consultations by the NLC and TUC.

The source, who was a member of one of the sub-committees set up by the government to work on getting a new minimum wage for the country, however, said the wage might still increase, following the recent hike in electricity tariff.

Furthermore, the source said, “We (NLC and TUC) have given our figures to the government (on the minimum wage), and it is N615,000. That is the position of the NLC and TUC on the matter. The government has been informed as well.”

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, through Vice President Kashim Shettima, had on January 30, set up a 37-member panel at the Council Chamber of the State House in Abuja.

With its membership cutting across federal and state governments, the private sector, and organised labour, the panel was tasked with recommending a new national minimum wage.

At the inaugural meeting of the panel, Shettima urged members to ‘speedily’ arrive at a resolution, and submit their reports early as the current N30,000 minimum wage expired at the end of March 2024.

Chairing the panel is a former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Bukar Aji, who, at the inauguration ceremony, affirmed that its members would come up with a ‘fair, practical, implementable and sustainable’ minimum wage.

The inauguration followed months of agitation from organised labour over the FG’s failure to inaugurate the new national minimum wage committee as promised during negotiations last October.

From the government’s side, members include the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, representing the Minister of Labour and Employment; Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, who was represented by the ministry’s permanent secretary, Lydia Jafiya; the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Atiku Bagudu; Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Yemi Esan; and Permanent Secretary, GSO/OSGF, Dr Nnamdi Mbaeri, among others.

Representing the Nigeria Governors Forum are Mohammed Bago of Niger State, representing the North Central; Senator Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, representing the North East; Umar Radda of Katsina State, representing the North West; Charles Soludo of Anambra State, representing the South East; Senator Ademola Adeleke of Osun State, for the South West; and Otu Bassey of Cross River State, on behalf of the South-South.

From the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association is the Director-General of the association, Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde; Chuma Nwankwo, Thompson Akpabio; as well as members from the Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, including Michael Olawale-Cole, Ahmed Rabiu, and Humphrey Ngonadi.

From organised labour, the Nigeria Labour Congress is represented by its president, Joe Ajaero; as well as President of the TUC, Festus Osifo; and his deputy, Tommy Etim-Okon, among others.

Ajaero had announced N1m as the new minimum wage, owing to the rising inflation in the country which, according to him, had pushed many of his members into poverty.

This led to several controversies, with some experts stating that the wage was unrealisable or sustainable.

However, in an interview with one of our correspondents, another labour leader stated that the NLC and TUC had pegged the new wage at N615,000 tentatively.

Asked if the May 1 deadline was still on course, the labour leader said, “What I want you to know is that we are doing our best. Both the TUC and NLC have harmonised, and they have sent their position to the government.

“We are in the process. Be assured that once anything happens, I will, as usual, inform you. That is all I can tell you for now, because we have not met; even though we have submitted our unified positions to the Federal Government. We will be speaking with one voice.

“But, let me also hint you that with the removal of the electricity tariff subsidy, we are going to have another round of serious conversations with the government. Mind you, the tariff increase is also very good for us, because they (the government) did it when the new minimum wage process had not been concluded. So, it is going to be a good ground for us to ask for more.

“Our position will be defended based on the new price of N225 per kWh of electricity. Although we (the government and Labour) are not in agreement, we are waiting to meet and decide on the next point of action.”

The source added, “This is because if you look at the Electricity Act, it canvassed a position that before any increase at all, there must be stakeholders’ engagement. However, the Nigerian Electricity Regulation Commission unilaterally imposed the removal of the electricity tariff on the consumers, without recourse to stakeholders. That is in total defiance to the provisions of the Act.

“These are the issues that will be in the front burner of our next negotiation with the Federal Government.

“The new tariff will also give us another strategy to press the government on the need to move the minimum wage upward. This is because the government has not announced any new minimum wage yet, as we are still negotiating.

“As I said, the NLC and TUC have harmonised positions, which we have sent to the government. It is even now that the negotiation will start properly. All that we have done so far was to try to lay the foundation, and now that we have come up with our positions, the government will also come up with their own. We will then start a fresh negotiation.”

  • Economists Differ

Reacting, a professor of Economics at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State, Sheriffdeen Tella, said, “If internationally, they say there is poverty in Nigeria, what they mean is that Nigerians are earning less than two dollars per day. If you want to fix the minimum wage to end poverty, what you should do is fix the minimum wage above that.

“Whatever the labour unions have presented to the Federal Government is for negotiation and to serve as a benchmark. It is left for the Federal Government to negotiate.

“There is a law that has been established to make them comply. But, they (state governments) decide to flout the law. When it is agreed as minimum wage, that is what the private and public sectors should pay. If they don’t pay, they should be taken to court.”

A professor of Microeconomics at the University of Ibadan, Oyo State, Adeola Adenikinju, noted that while the Federal Government would bear a significant burden, it was imperative to recognise the involvement of state governments and the private sector in the implementation of the new minimum wage.

Adenikinju, who is also the President of the Nigerian Economic Society, harped on the importance of acknowledging the diverse economic landscapes across states, suggesting that a uniform minimum wage might not be feasible, due to varying levels of affordability.

He said, “The proposed minimum wage by the NLC should be looked at. It is not only the Federal Government that is going to pay this. The state government and private sector are also involved.

“It must be noted that the minimum wage varies by state, as some states are richer than others.”

In a similar vein, another economist, Paul Alaje, explained that there was a high possibility of President Bola Tinubu declaring between N100,000 and N200,000 as the minimum wages for both the private and public sectors if the exchange rate of naira improved to N1,000 per dollar by May.

He added that 30 out of the 36 states would struggle and might not align with the payment of the new minimum wage if it was pegged at N615,000.

According to him, getting special assistance from the Federal Government and intervention funds from international communities should be tied to states having zero clearance of previous salaries.

He also stated while the proposed minimum wage might not be so much of a challenge for the Federal Government and six states, the other 30 states will struggle to pay that amount.”

 

Credit: The Punch

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New National ID Card To Be Issued Through Banks — FG

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The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) states that applicants’ banks will provide them with the anticipated national ID card.

In order to provide the cards to applicants, NIMC stated that it is collaborating with the Nigerian Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS).

“The card will be issued through the applicants’ respective banks in line with existing protocols with the issuance of the Debit/Credit cards,” the agency said in a Friday update on its official X (formerly known as Twitter) handle.

It said applicants need to request their cards with their NIN “through the self-service online portal, NIMC offices, or their respective banks”.

“The card will be powered by the AFRIGO card scheme, an indigenous scheme powered by NIBSS,” NIMC said.

“The card can be picked up by holders at the designated center or delivered to the applicants at the requested location at an extra cost to be borne by the applicants,” the update read.

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