John Ameh and Leke Baiyewu, Abuja
A bill seeking to amend the 1999 Constitution to allow the creation of state and community police has been laid before the Senate.
The bill was sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who is the Chairman of the Committee on the Review of the constitution.
It was observed that 75 other senators co-sponsored the bill, out of the 109 lawmakers in the chamber.
Two seats are currently vacant due to the deaths of senators Mustapha Bukar (Katsina-North) and Ali Wakili (Bauchi South).
A court had also jailed Senator Joshua Dariye (Plateau Central) recently over corruption charges.
Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary on Thursday, said passage of the bill would be accelerated.
“The committee has fulfilled its mandate, now the bill has been taken for the first reading. I am sure that as soon as possible we will take the second reading (of the bill), and probably send it to public hearing through the committee as well so that we can fast-track it as directed by the Senate,” he said.
A similar bill had passed the second reading at the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
The Senate had on July 3, 2018, begun the process to amend the constitution to de-centralise the current central policing structure.
The upper chamber of the National Assembly had mandated the Ekweremadu-led committee to present an amendment bill within two weeks.
The lawmakers resolved that the bill would enjoy speedy consideration, setting a target for its passage before they would proceed on their annual recess by the end of July.
The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, had called for the support of state Houses of Assembly for the amendment when he met with the speakers of the state legislatures, led by the Chairman, states’ Assembly Speakers Conference and Speaker of the Gombe State House of Assembly, Abdulmumin Kamba.
The Senate President had noted that state and community policing had become necessary due to the rising security challenges in the country.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday communicated his decision to withhold assent to four bills to the National Assembly.
At the House of Representatives, the presidential decision was contained in a letter read to members by the Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara, at the start of the day’s proceedings.
The bills are the “Corporate Manslaughter Bill, 2018,” “Agricultural Credit Scheme Bill, 2018,” “National Child Protection Bill, 2018” and “Court and Tribunal Standard Scale Fines Bill, 2018.”
Buhari gave reasons for rejecting the bills.
For instance, on the corporate manslaughter bill, Buhari said several of its provisions were inconsistent with the 1999 Constitution.
He also rejected the agricultural credit scheme bill on the grounds that the National Assembly increased the fund created in the scheme to N50bn.
The President explained that he was more convenient with the extant provision of N100m.
On the child protection bill, Buhari noted that the proposed agency would merely duplicate the functions of already established agencies and the Ministry of Women Affairs.
He turned down the court and tribunal bill for being “ambiguous” and conflicting with extant laws.
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