Pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, has expressed utter regret and disappointment over the rejection of an amendment to the 1999 Constitution that would have enabled willing states in the country to establish their own police force, saying the attitude displayed by some members of the House Committee on Constitution Review had reinforced the notion that most of the National Assembly members were not there to serve the best interests of the majority of Nigerians.
Afenifere said this on Thursday in a statement made available to newsmen by its spokesperson, Comrade Jare Ajayi, noting that the feeling across the length and breadth of Nigeria today was the need to take every legitimate step to combat the unprecedented security challenge facing the country.
“As is well known, one of the best means of combating such challenges is to design measures that may be unique – from one area to another. The peculiar security challenge we have presently demands the formulation of local strategies to complement that of the central government. In this particular case, State and Local Government Police are very necessary if we truly want to overcome the challenges of insecurity especially that of banditry and terrorism,” the group posited.
Afenifere commended Hon. Onofiok Luke from Akwa Ibom for the amendment to Section 214 of the 1999 Constitution to enable states to have power to set up State Police and also commended other 10 members of the House that voted in support of the amendment, while it frowned very seriously at the 14 members who voted against the amendment, but quickly asserted that “it is not too late for our lawmakers to retrace their step on this matter.”
The pan-Yoruba group, therefore, called on the Senate to uphold the proposed amendment and prevail on the Lower Chamber to do the same, “just as happened in the case of the amendment to the Electoral Act.”
Afenifere further called “on well-meaning Nigerians to impress it on these lawmakers the need to be more patriotic and be more committed to the sanctity of life.”
Speaking further, the pan-Yoruba socio-political group stated that with the number of lives that had been lost to terrorists in the country, including the lives of some lawmakers, it could not be defended at all, that the lawmakers would throw away the golden opportunity to put criminality in Nigeria in check.
The group added that by this rejection, the impression was being created that some well-placed people were deriving pleasure from the unwarranted loss of lives, properties and territories that were now the hallmark of the citizens’ daily living.
“Such people, however, needed to be reminded that terrorism, at some point, may not have respect for even those who brought it into being,” Afenifere warned.
It would be recalled that the amendment sought by Hon. Onofiok was to move Section 214 (c) of the Constitution from the exclusive list to the concurrent list, to enable the Constitution to empower both the National Assembly and Houses of Assembly of States to legislate on police and other security matters.
But at the House Committee sitting on Wednesday, January 26, 14 legislators voted against the amendment while 11 lawmakers voted in favour.