Senators at a Two-Day constitution amendment retreat which kicked-off in Lagos yesterday are currently seeking to introduce a fresh amendment that would lead to the decentralization of the Nigeria Police, and eventually introduce State Policing.
The committee on Constitution amendment is also seeking to amend Section 9 of the 1999 Constitution with a view to removing presidential assent from fresh amendments to the constitution. It has also revived its earlier move to separate the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) from that of the Minister of Justice.
Delivering a speech at the event, the Chairman of the committee and Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, said even though the campaign for state policing had failed in the last constitution amendment exercise, he said he was optimistic that with the prevailing dynamics of current security situation most opponents of the bill will have had a re think.
“Let me emphasize, however, that this is certainly without prejudice to other issues, such as diaspora voting and decentralized policing, which Nigerians, through their memoranda to the committee, feel strongly about. The period between the last amendment exercise and now must have thrown up new concerns or reinforced old ones. Nigerians would have had a rethink on so many matters, dropping earlier held opinions and accepting or canvassing new one”
“I am aware that many Nigerians, including former governors who were initially opposed to decentralized policing during the last exercise inundated me with calls, trying to explore the possibility of reintroducing the subject in last amendment after it was voted out. But it was already too late. There is also no doubt that we are currently learning the hard way in the face of economic and security realities.”
Declaring the retreat open, Senate President Bukola Saraki advised the committee to dwell largely on amendments carried out by the seventh National Assembly, noting that constitutional amendment was an enormous task which affects the smooth running and development of the nation.
Saraki noted that the seventh National Assembly had already obtained a national consensus on key challenges to the operation of the constitution as well as the utilization of the constitution as the coherent framework for our development as a nation through its work on the Fourth Alteration Bill passed by the seventh assembly.
Also speaking at the event, Lagos State Governor Akinwumi Ambode who was represented by the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, commended the Senate for its efforts to newly amend the constitution.