NEC sets up 8-member panel to work out new police operations guidelines

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A major step towards decentralising the police was taken Thursday as the National Economic Council (NEC) set up a committee, which will work out the modalities for the implementation of the policy.

The popular thinking is that decentralising the police will bring down the rising crime rate by improving efficiency.

National Security Adviser (NSA) Babagana Monguno broke the news at the end of the NEC meeting chaired by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

With him were Jigawa State Governor Abubakar Badaru and Benue State Deputy Governor Benson Abuonu.

Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Idris will head the committee, with representatives from the six geopolitical zones.

Monguno pointed out that Nigeria is facing abnormal security challenges, which he said cannot be tackled within a short a time.

While waiting for the constitution amendment, the Federal Government and governors resolved to explore how the police operations could be decentralised for effective delivery and to improve the level of policing and security in the country.

In the NEC committee are Zamfara State Governor AndulAziz Yari, Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong, Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umagi, Katsina State Governor Aminu Masari, Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki and Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima as members.

Monguno said that the improvement in the security situation has nothing to do with the forthcoming general elections.

“I briefed on behalf of the security agencies both operational and intelligence. I gave a general overview of the security situation in the country, the current situation and the trends and also the challenges that we are confronted with.

“These threats are increasingly asymmetric in nature and I stressed the need to deal with these problems in a more collective manner.

“It is true that it is the responsibility of the security agencies to deal with these threats, but the complexities of insecurity in the 21st Century are such that you need a whole of government and a whole of society approach in dealing with there issues.”

“I emphasised to the Council the need for the state to collaborate with and support the Federal Government in dealing with each individual threats, and these threats differ from one zone to another, and find a way of linking with security agencies so that we can find a lasting solution,” the NSA said

To the NSA, the problems cannot be overcome “within a short period”. “That is the hard truth. What we have decided to do is to work on certain methods,” he said, adding:

“For example, the Council decided that a committee would be set up with representation from each of the geo-political zones to be chaired the IGP so that we find ways of decentralising police operations so that there will be greater access to information and handling this situation will be easier rather than a centralised and cumbersome approach.”

Monguno said that the Council also reviewed the resolutions and recommendations of the 2017 Security Summit.

After the review, he said, governors agreed to work with the security agencies on all the issues that were raised and to revisit all the recommendations.

According to him, the Federal Government is also looking at other issues in dealing with problems coming from outside Nigeria.

“These problems are being collated by the security agencies and a team would be set up under the supervision of the ONSA to deal with these threats,” Monguno said.

On whether the improvement in security situation is linked to the coming elections, he said: “Not really. What happened is that there has been continuous review of the activities of the various security agencies, successes and failures and so on and so forth.

“There has been deliberate attempt to try and take care of those areas that are most difficult. The fact that we have started making a breakthrough is just coincidental with the fact that elections are approaching.

“Several new operations have been launched. These operations are being reviewed in a more coordinated manner with other agencies that are not directly within the military component but with other MDAs and that have resulted in improvement and it has nothing to do with elections approaching.”

Asked why there was no coordination among the security agencies over the invasion of Benue State by policemen and the invasion of National Assembly by DSS, he said: “On lack of coordination, it is not easy to coordinate. Yes, all security agencies are supposed to be centrally coordinated but sometimes we have issues.

“But these issues are being addressed right now and that is probably why we are beginning to see some improvements. The truth is that we are dealing with a situation that is asymmetric, that is not normal, not conventional.

“In dealing with these problems there will be issues, inter-service issues, inter-agencies issues, my office has been trying to address in the last couple of weeks, hopefully we should be able to see some improvements.”

On the Red Cross’ report that 17,000 Nigerians were missing, Monguno said: “17,000 Nigerians missing. That report is being looked at by different agencies of government and we are awaiting their report before we can comment on that.”

On EFCC’s investigation of security votes of some governors, Jigawa State Governor Abubakar Badaru said it was discussed at the Nigerian Governors Forum and that the position is that their lawyers will look at the legality of doing that.

“After giving us the report, then we will see the next line of action to take,” he said.

According to him, the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler, briefed the Council on strategies for optimising the contribution of MSMEs to the country’s tax revenue profile.

On the presentation, he said: “The presentation centred on the contribution of MSMEs to GDP, National Export and to Tax collection for 2015 – 2018.

“It also highlighted the challenges impeding the optimisation of MSMEs contribution to Tax Revenue.

“When adequately harnessed, MSMEs can have much impact on the profile tax revenue for the country – especially considering their direct correlation with personal Income Tax, VAT and Withholding Taxes.”

“Government at all levels should endeavour to provide infrastructural facilities and enabling business environment to allow MSMEs Business to thrive.” he said

Benue State Deputy Governor Benson Abuonu had earlier disclosed that the NSA, on behalf of the security chiefs, briefed Council on security challenges across the country, particularly in the Northwest, Northeast, Middle Belt, Southeast and Southsouth.

“He informed Council on efforts being made by the Federal Government and urged the state governments to support Federal Government efforts in dealing with the challenges in their respective States, particularly those with local perspectives.

“The NSA assured that the intelligence community and security agencies will continue to sustain current efforts to mitigate the security challenges across the country.”

On the Council’s decision, he said: “Cases of bandits should be prosecuted and adequately publicised by the States and Attorney-General encouraged to personally lead the prosecution.

“Council recommended that a Committee of NEC with representatives from the geopolitical zones, including Zamfara, Ondo, Plateau, Ebonyi, Katsina, Edo and Borno states, be set up to meet with the IG of Police to determine how to ensure the decentralisation of police operations as quickly as possible.

“Council also thanked the NSA and the Service Chiefs for their efforts,” he said

Asked to speak on the security situation in Benue State, Abuonu said that there is improvement compared to the frequent killings in the past.

“We now have relative peace in in the state and that does not mean that there are no more killings in the state.”

“The security situation in Benue has improved as compared to the previous military exercise operation, now many Internally Displaced Persons have returned home, the State is relatively calmed”, he said.

He urged the Federal Government not to withdraw Operation Well-Stroke from the state soon.

The Senior Special Assistant to the Acting President, Laolu Akande, said Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun briefed the Council on various accounts balances.

He said: “Honourable Minister of Finance reported to the Council that the balances in the under listed Accounts as at August 14, 2018 are as follows:

“Excess Crude Account (ECA) – $ 2, 250, 434, 918.00, Stabilization Fund Account – N21, 591, 091, 564.37, Natural Resources Development Fund – N 143, 479, 688,711.25”

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