On Tuesday, a proposed bill that aims to amend the 1999 Constitution in order to grant governors the authority to select state commissioners of police successfully proceeded to the next stage of deliberation in the House of Representatives.

In the proposed amendment to the constitution, a commissioner of police selected from the current police force within the state will lead the anticipated state police as a significant step towards decentralizing the Nigeria Police Force. This development aims to tackle the escalating security challenges facing the nation.

The bill titled “A Proposal to Amend the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria to Allow for the Formation of State Police and Associated Issues” was introduced by Benjamin Kalu, the Deputy Speaker of the House, along with 14 other sponsors. This bill seeks to place the police force under both federal and state jurisdiction by including it in the concurrent list.

In the 1999 Constitution, policing is listed exclusively under the legislative purview of the Federal Government, allowing for direct control over law enforcement.

During the discussion about the basic principles of the bill, Tolani Shagaya, the co-sponsor and member representing Ilorin West/Asa Federal Constituency, highlighted that according to section 14(2)(b) of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution, the government’s primary responsibility is the protection and well-being of its citizens.

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.’’