“I bring to the senate a planned action of Kogi state government to introduce state police through the back door," Melaye announced.
The Kogi-West lawmaker stated this at plenary on Wednesday, March 14, 2018.
According to Melaye, Governor Bello recently signed into law a bill seeking to arm vigilante groups in Kogi state.
Melaye accused some members of the state vigilante group of “killing innocent Nigerians” in the state.
State Police through the back door
“Mr. President, I bring to the senate a law passed by the Kogi state government and signed into law by the governor of Kogi state that talks about the establishment of the Vigilante Service Group,” Melaye began.
“I bring to the senate a planned action of Kogi state government to introduce state police through the back door.
“I have that law here, it’s already a law of the Kogi state government. By the time I perused this law, this law is in conflict with the provisions of the constitution. This law alters the functions of the Nigeria Police as stipulated in section 214 of the constitution.
“It is a fact that state can make laws through the Houses of Assembly as enshrined in section 4 of the constitution but the law they will make must not be in conflict with the provisions of the constitution.
Arming vigilante group
“It says that Vigilante Group will be involved in detection and prevention of crime, the apprehension of criminals, the preservation of law and order, the protection of lives and property. Will assist other security and para-military agencies in the discharge of their duties to assist other security agencies in government installations, to assist other security agencies in maintaining law and order in any economic, political and social gathering. There shall be a controller of Vigilante services. There is also a Deputy Controller-General.
“The most affront on the constitution is in section 15 of that law which says the vigilante Service Group shall carry dane guns, other guns and other light weapons that are commiserate with their duties and responsibilities,”
“This is how it started in Kano, it was not contained, it started ravaging. This is how Boko Haram started, this is how Sara Suka started. The senate will not fold our arms and close our eyes where a governor is equipping militia to wreak havoc on innocent citizens. As I speak to you, this group is already killing in every parts of Kogi state. There is record of killings in Okene, Adabi, Lokoja and this group are carrying AK-47 and pump actions openly in Kogi.
Imported uniforms and hardwares ‘by Kogi government’
“This will now justify the reason why uniforms and hardwares are imported into Nigeria. It will now justify why military weapons and gadgets were addressed as sporting equipment for the purpose of illegal importation. The laws of Kogi state shall not override the constitution,” Melaye added.
Contributing to the motion, Senator Godswill Akpabio described Governor Bello as a bad example of a youth in government.
“Quite unfortunately it is Kogi again,” Apkabio said. “Here we are at the Senate trying to make laws to enable the youth who can go to elections to be voted for and we are seeing a very youthful governor who is giving impression that we elders should continue to recycle ourselves. But I do know that the youth of Nigeria are ready.
“Having been a governor before, we were very circumspect about arming militants or arming youth because at the end of the day, even after you’ve left office, for you to retrieve that weapon. To hear that there is a law at all mentioning people to carry light weapons in a state is not only condemnable but must be looked into because Nigeria has been struggling with proliferation of arms. What is happening is almost like legalising illegality,” he added.
Senator Magnus Abe also drew the attention of the Senate to a similar situation in Rivers state.
“As we all know, I have always been and I will remain an advocate of state policing as solution to the problems of this nation but for us to do this thing and do it well, we have to be careful.
“In my own state, Rivers, the state House of Assembly has just passed a law called the neighbourhood something bill and law provides for this people to carry arms, provides for them to take every order for the governor, makes all sorts of provisions and even provide for these corps members that even the Nigeria Police does not have. This problem is not just a Kogi problem, it is a Nigerian problem.”
Abe’s call that the Senate should investigate the situation is his state was however rejected by his colleagues.
Senator Victor Umeh told lawmakers that vigilante groups in Anambra state should be left alone to perform their duties.
“This is a very critical issue. It is very unfortunate that Kogi has been in the news for this abuse for some time now but it behoves on me to point out to this senate that vigilante service has worked in some parts of this country in helping to maintain peace in those states. Anambra is an example,” he added.
The Senate then mandated its committees on Security and Intelligence and Judiciary to invite the National Security Adviser in order to investigate the matter.