Reps would resolve overlapping mandates of security agencies – Gbajabiamila

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, said on Friday, that the Lower Chamber will take some far-reaching security measures in its commitment to support the Executive in addressing the security challenges confronting the country.

He explained that the interventions by the House were necessary because finding solutions to the challenges was a collective responsibility.

Gbajabiamila was speaking in Lagos on Friday where he declared open a two-day National Security Legislative Reform retreat.

The speaker noted that the initiative was another “evidence of our commitment in the 9th House of Representatives to doing what is required of us to make sure our country can overcome the serious national security challenges that currently threaten the safety and wellbeing of our people.”

Participants will use the retreat to review seven bills with overlapping mandates on security, intelligence and the related agencies.

The bills include the Armed Forces Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021; Police Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021; National Security and Civil Defence Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021; Customs and Excise Management Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021; ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, The Ammunition and Other Related Materials (Ratification and Enforcement) Bill, 2021; Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021; and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

Gbajabiamila said, “How best to ensure the objectives of our national security and ensure that the men and women who live and work in our country can have full lives, free from the terror imposed by marauders and fundamentalists is now the defining question of our national life.

“How we answer this question and our ability to overcome the evident challenges of the moment will determine whether or not we can educate our children, attract investment to grow the economy, build critical national infrastructure, create jobs and ensure the continued and prosperous existence of our republic”.

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The speaker, who was represented by the Deputy Minority Leader of the House, Rep. Toby Okechukwu, noted that even if the House was constitutionally handicapped in taking certain necessary actions to address the issue, it would not fold its arms and watch insecurity spiralling out of control.

He stated, “In the legislature, we do not control armies, we cannot deploy men and equipment to fight insurgencies and to prevent the taking over of spaces by bandits, criminals and assorted bad actors.

“Our power, and therefore our responsibility, lies in our constitutional mandate to make laws for the good governance of the country. And we serve this mandate by convening ourselves and others in programmes like this, to critically consider problems, advance solutions and agree on a joint strategy for law making, for oversight and collaboration with the executive.”

According to Gbajabiamila, the objective of the retreat is to review each of the seven bills, with a view to eliciting discussions that will culminate in the passage of a series of legislation that will strengthen the efforts of the executive in tackling insecurity.

The speaker explained, “We do this so that by the time we return to Abuja, we will together and individually work to rapidly advance these reform proposals through the legislative process, with a clear-eyed understanding of the fact that the work we do on these bills will go a long way in ensuring that our country can defeat the forces of violence and strife that challenge us and threaten our peaceful prosperity.

“In addition to reviewing the bills under consideration, this retreat is an opportunity for us to propose and consider additional security reform suggestions.”

Gbajabiamila appreciated the collaborative efforts of the House Committee on Monitoring and Implementation of the Legislative Agenda, National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Foundation (KAS) and other contributors for the vision to review of the bills, adding that they reflected the recommendations for legislative action made by security/policy experts at the recently-concluded Special Summit on National Security held in Abuja.

“We are, all of us, partners in the joint task of nation-building, and it is a thing of great joy when we gather together like this with a clear vision, and evident passion to make good the lives of men and women in our beloved country”, the speaker added.

The Chairman, House Committee on Monitoring and Implementation of Legislative Agenda, Rep. Henry Nwawuba, said the reasons for the gathering was to meet the House of Representatives’ commitment to security sector reform and also to ensure that the bills under consideration could quickly pass through the legislative process for implementation.

In his opening remarks, NILDS’ Director-General (DG), Abubakar Suleiman, said overlapping and poor understanding of mandates often led to conflicts in many developing countries, mainly due to the long stay of the military in power.

According to him, the institute joined other critical stakeholders to address the issue so as to find collective solutions to the security challenges.

On the essence of the collaboration, the Resident Representative of Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung, Dr Vladimir Kreck, said inter-agency collaboration and overlapping mandates were not strange developments.

“To overcome rivalry between agencies and to induce synergies, a regulatory framework is necessary, defining the modes of collaboration.

“It is against this backdrop that in 2020, our organisation commissioned a survey on overlapping mandates of security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies in Nigeria. The analysis of the constitutional and statutory provisions of security agencies illustrated not only the areas of conflicting mandates but also the need for legislative actions in order to provide agencies with a framework that enables synergies and joint approaches.”

Among those attending the retreat are Reps Abdul Majid Adekoya, Deputy Minority Whip; Abdulrazak Namdas, Chairman, House Committee on Army; Abubakar Fulata, Chairman Rules and Business Committee; Francis Agbo, Chairman, Committee on Drug Law and Narcotics; Leke Abejide, Chairman, Customs and Excise Committee; Gaza Gwefi, Chairman, Committee on Legislative Library, Research and Documentation; Nicholas Ossai, Chairman, Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreement; and Victor Nwokolo, Chairman, Banking and Currency.

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