The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, has said a trusted Police Force working within the limits of the law is what Nigerians deserve.
He assured Nigerians that the 9th House under his leadership would bequeath such a Police Force to them, and is working assiduously to achieve the goal.
Gbajabiamila, who spoke at the National Assembly on Thursday during the opening of a public hearing on two bills by the House Committee on Police Affairs, said the House would meet these expectations as one of the key items on its Legislative Agenda.
The bills are: “A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Police Service Commission Act and Enact the Police Service Commission Bill, 2020, to strengthen the Commission to be more Functional in its Operations and for Related Matters,” and: “A Bill for an Act to Provide for Establishment of the National Institute for Police Studies, to Provide for Administration and Management of the Institute and Determining the Standard of Knowledge and Skills to be Acquired by the Personnel of the Institute, and for Related Matters.”
According to the Speaker, the House made a commitment to give adequate attention to reforms that would be carried out on policing in Nigeria through relevant legislative support.
Gbajabiamila noted: “Reforming the Nigerian security architecture, with specific emphasis on our policing system and law enforcement, is one of the cardinal commitments of the 9th House of Representatives.
“It is a commitment against which our tenure in office will be measured.
“When the time for assessment and judgment comes, we must not be found wanting.
“The Nigerian people deserve a Police Force that they can trust.
“They deserve a Police Force that acts within the limits of the law and respects the rule of law.
“We will do everything in our power to meet these expectations.”
Gbajabiamila further stated that aside from statutory reforms, there were other urgent areas of intervention to make the police force function better, including recruitment, training, funding and operational priorities.
He said: “These issues are the responsibility of the Police Force administration and the executive.
“Nonetheless, the 9th House of Representatives will be part of those conversations around effecting changes in this regard, and we will do our utmost to ensure that everything that ought to be done is done and done right.”
Specifically on the Police Service Commission (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2020, Gbajabiamila explained that it was the first attempt to institute an independent system for holding errant police officers to account for abuses of power and related misconduct in office.
The Speaker acknowledged the fact that not all police personnel were bad, describing a “good majority” of them as “upstanding and professional”.
However, Gbajabiamila said one rotten egg could ruin the basket, a reason the House stepped in with the reform bill with the aim of weeding out “the few bad eggs in the police force”.
The Speaker told the session that among others, the bill proposed changes to the composition of the Police Service Commission, “reorganising the Commission to be public-facing and able to receive and investigate complaints against Police Officers” as well as “increasing the minimum requirement for recruitment into the constabulary and allow for the recruitment of more qualified candidates into the Nigerian Police Force”.
Gbajabiamila urged the stakeholders to seize the opportunity of the public hearing to make objective submissions that would help to restore faith in Nigeria’s security institutions and reassure the people that the government was still capable of protecting their lives and property.
Earlier, the Chairman of the committee, Rep. Usman Kumo, promised a level-playing field for all the stakeholders to make their submissions in a just and fair atmosphere.
Kumo called on all presenters to be “God-fearing”, nationalistic, frank and open-minded to assist the committee in producing a report that would meet the expectations of the House and Nigerians in general.