A bill seeking to give legal backing to state security outfits has passed second reading at the house of representatives.
The constitution amendment bill provides for the establishment of state security service commission to regulate the operations of security outfits sponsored by the states.
This means that organisations such as Amotekun in the south-south, and Ebube Agu in the south-east, will be officially recognised by the constitution if the bill is passed into law.
They were both established as joint security outfits by the two geopolitical zones to help tackle insecurity.
Oberuakpefe Afe, sponsor of the bill, told TheCable that the proposed law also aims to prevent state governors from abusing the security outfits by using them to “persecute their political opponents.”
“The state or local government outfit or vigilante would be structured so that they won’t have the right of prosecution,” he said.
“There has to be a national law to streamline every one of these groups.”
While leading the debate on the bill at Wednesday’s plenary session, the Delta lawmaker said the police are overwhelmed and need help in tackling Nigeria’s security woes.
“The widespread violent crimes in every nook and cranny of the country has, no doubt, overwhelmed the Nigeria police as presently structured both in personnel capacity as well as modus operandi,” he said.
“The constitution of our country under section 214 has vested exclusively in the Nigeria police the duty of maintaining law and order as well as well as the protection of lives and property.
“But the upsurge of crimes of diverse nature and their rampancy in almost every nook and cranny of the country has birthed various militias and vigilantes whose interventionist roles restored order in many parts of the country where the overwhelmed police proved incapable of discharging their primary responsibility.”
Afe also said that Nigerians “cannot live in denial” as the country’s security challenges must be tackled in the best possible template with such responsibility falling on the lawmakers.
“The overall effect which these changes being introduced will have on the police force is that it will encourage police personnel to engage in intelligence gathering as against the present combative approach that has not produced satisfactory result,” he said.
The bill was unanimously voted for second reading after it was put to a voice vote by Idris Wase, deputy speaker of the house.