The Senate has introduced a bill seeking to amend the Police Act, 2020.
The new bill titled ‘The Nigeria Police Act 2020 (Amendment) Bill, 2021’, was sponsored by Senator Surajudeen Ajibola Basiru (APC, Osun).
According to the sponsor, the bill seeks to enhance the operational capacity of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) through the removal of constraints of funds and whittling down the over-centralisation of the command structure of the police force.
This is coming six months after President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the Nigeria Police Bill 2020, on September 16, which repealed the Police Act Cap. P19 Laws of the Federation, 2004.
The amendment seeks to decentralize the police command structure with operational and budgetary powers vested in the zonal offices.
The bill also seeks to establish a zonal security advisory council and state security advisory council to advise on the security challenges facing each zone or state respectively.
Some experts told the Daily Trust that if passed into law, the bill will reduce administrative challenges in the police, in addition to inching closer to state police.
Salient provisions in the new bill
The amendment seeks to insert a new Section ‘6(7)’ which provides for the structure of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) as follows:
(a) Force Headquarters; (b) Zonal Headquarters; (c) State Commands; (d) Training Institutes; (e) Area Commands; (f)Divisional Police Headquarters and (g) Police Stations.
The new section makes provision for an organic structure for the police force so that its operations would be streamlined easily and better coordinated in line with global best practices.
The new Section 6(9)(a) of the bill establishes the zonal structure of the NPF to be headed by an Assistant Inspector-General of Police, who is given the power of budgetary control over the respective zones.
The provision makes for an even spread to all the geopolitical zones in the country and also obviates the unnecessary administrative bottleneck of having to report to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) in Abuja before key decisions are made, especially urgent decisions on funds.
Section 6(9)(a) Zonal Structure of the Nigerian Police Force provides thus:
(i) The zonal offices of the Nigeria Police Force shall consist as follows:
Zone 1: Kano/Jigawa/Katsina; Zone 2: Lagos/Ogun; Zone 3: Adamawa/Taraba/Gombe; Zone 4: Benue/Plateau/Nasarawa; Zone 5: Edo/Delta/Bayelsa; Zone 6: Rivers/Akwa-Ibom/Cross River; Zone 7: Kaduna/Niger/FCT; Zone 8: Ekiti/Kwara/Kogi; Zone 9: Imo/Abia; Zone 10: Sokoto/Zamfara/Kebbi; Zone 11: Oyo/Osun/Ondo; Zone 12: Bauchi/Yobe/Borno and Zone 13: Anambra/Enugu/Ebonyi.
(ii) Each zonal office shall be headed by an AIG of police who shall report to the IGP.
(iii) The zonal offices shall have an operation and budgetary control over the police formations in the zone and shall prepare and submit to the Force Headquarters their budget.
Sections 6(9) and (10) of the bill made provisions for the establishment of zonal and state security advisory councils, respectively.
These advisory councils are designed to be headed by the governors, on a rotational basis for the zones, and by each state governor in the states.
The bill said the advisory councils have the membership of the senators from the zones, speakers of the Houses of Assembly from the zone, all the security agencies, civil societies, traditional councils, business communities, local government chairmen, leaders of faith-based organisations, and representatives of the zones in the House of Assembly etc.
According to the sponsor, “The amendments being sought to be implemented in the Police Act also align with the clamour for state police as the bill has made way for the participation of state actors in the affairs of the police force as it affects their zones and or states respectively.
“These amendments, if favourably considered and implemented, would improve our security apparatus and address the security challenges facing the nation,” he said.
Differences with existing police structure
Daily Trust reports that the new bill is a clear departure from the existing police structure.
The command structure, also referred to as the authority structure of the police force, is predicated on the regimental nature of the force and conducted along the force badges of ranks.
Thus, in accordance with Section 215(2) of the 1999 Constitution, Section 6 of the Police Act, 1990 Laws provide that, “The Force shall be commanded by the Inspector-General of Police”.
This simply means that orders, directives and instructions to perform or carry out the duties with which the police are charged, flows from the IGP, through the chain of command, to any officer positioned to implement such order.
The Nigeria police is further structured in line with the geopolitical structure of the country, with provisions for supervisory formations. The structure formation enables police operational of the internal territory of Nigeria in the following order: Force headquarters; zonal headquarters; state command headquarters; divisional police headquarters; police station; police post; and village police post.