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Senate probes N135bn police funds

By The Rainbow
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The Senate on Thursday directed its Committee on Police Affairs to probe the whereabouts of the N135bn which accrued to police reforms funds between 2010 and 2013.

The directive followed a motion brought by Senator Abubakar Tutare (PDPTaraba) and co-sponsored by 16 other senators on the level of funding and implementation of the Nigerian Police Force Reform Programme.

Contributing to the motion, the Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, was of the view that the problem of Nigerian Police is beyond poor funding.

To him, the problem is more of 'structural defect'.

According to him,  the situation calls for the creation of state police to ensure effective policing of the country.

'The mentality of the police is still rooted in our colonial history. No matter how much you bring, you are not going to change the police.

'The idea of a single police for all the country is inconsistent with a federal system.

This motion affords us the opportunity to restructure the police in line with what is obtainable in a federalism,' Ndoma- Egba added.

Senator Uche Chukwumerije (PDP- Abia) called for adequate funding of the police in the same way that huge allocations were provided for the army.

'More funding should be provided for police even above what the military is being given because they are closer to the people,' he said.

Senator Sani Saleh (APCKaduna) said a competent committee should be set up to carry out the police reforms programme. 'You can't ask the police to reform itself or the IG to begin quarrelling with the ministry over who controls the funds.

'A competent committee outside of the Nigeria Police Force should be set up to urgently carry out the reforms. Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, noted that the solution to the problem of the police called for urgent decentralisation of the police.

'About N140bn had been made available for the reforms between 2010 and 2013, but unfortunately with these huge funds we are not going to achieve anything with the police.

'We must make up our minds to secure our people by decentralising the police', he said.

Many Senators particularly rooted for the creation of state police as an answer to the festering challenges of the Nigerian Police.

Senator Umaru Dahiru (PDP-Sokoto) noted that considering the poor level of policing in the country in recent times, there was the need to create state police.

'I will certainly support creation of state police as 2015 approaches. As it is today, nobody can trust the federal police to provide security for the people.

'The time is ripe for us to include state police as key issue for discussion at the national conference,' Dahiru said. In his lead presentation, Tutare said that the Federal Government in 2010 initiated police reform to address the lack of offices, residential accommodation, operational vehicles and communication equipment.

The lawmaker noted that the reform was aimed at overhauling the police force and positioning it to be 'more professional, effective and efficient in the discharge of their duties with a takeoff grant of N75bn.'

He said that in spite of granting and providing to the police force N57bn between 2011 and 2013, 'there is still nothing to show that the reform agenda is on-going in the Nigeria Police Force.'

Senator James Manager (PDP-Delta) backed the call for state police too.  What we should do is to reopen the debate on decentralisation of the police.

'There is something organically wrong with the police and Nigerians have to decide whether a central police or decentralised police is appropriate.', he said.

Senator Smart Adeyemi (PDP- Kogi) said there was the need to review how the police funds were being managed to ensure adequate welfare for the personnel. 'We need to find out what is happening to their allocation and how money is being disbursed to the police.

There is nothing wrong with having a state police. 'We must begin to look at ways to make a policeman committed and passionate about his job by providing them with the good things of life,' he said. Senator Oluremi Tinubu (APC-Lagos) while supporting the call for state police urged the Senate to avoid trivialising the issue of security of the people.

'The entire nation is not happy with the police. We requested for state police but many of us voted against it here.

'We, as the Senate, can do something about it right here before it even gets to the national conference,' she added. Senator Ahmed Makarfi (PDP-Kaduna) urged the Senate to find out how the funds were being utilised.

'If there is no efficient utilisation of the money, there is no way the reform can succeed. We may be having problem over the struggle for who controls the funds contributed for the police reforms.'

Senate President, David Mark, also backed the call for the creation of state police to effect structural changes that would enhance effective policing of the country.

'I used to be a strong advocate of Federal Government police or central police. I am sure you have noticed that sometimes ago I also changed my mind to say that maybe we should experiment with state police and see what it is.

'There are basic problems with the current system but we must try to address them in a manner that has nothing to do with politics in any form at all because if this country does not survive we will not play politics also,' Mark said.