Members of the House of Representatives were divided on Thursday over the Nigerian Army’s disbandment of the Rivers State Neighborhood Safety Corps, a security outfit set up by the Rivers State Government.
A member from Rivers State, Kingsley Chinda, moved a motion in plenary urging the House to seek clarification of the army’s invasion the outfit’s training ground.
Chinda stated that corps members were legally and duly employed by the state government.
The lawmaker noted that other states created similar legally constituted groups for security reasons, without usurping the powers of the military.
He said, “The House notes with great concern and dismay the invasion of the training camp and subsequent disruption of the Rivers State Neighbourhood Safety Corps Agency’s training programme by the Nigerian Army.
“The Neighbourhood Watch was legally set up through the passage into law by the Rivers State House of Assembly of the Rivers State Neighbourhood Safety Corps Agency, Law No. 8 of 2018 with the aim to, among other things, enhance security, foster community policing and crime control, and ensure the security of lives and property.”
He added, “The House is concerned about the invasion of the training camp and disruption of the training by the Nigerian Army on the grounds of acting on ‘orders from above’ and labelling participants as members of a ‘militia’ gang.”
The lawmaker also prayed the House to mandate the Committee on Army to “urgently investigate the said activities of the Nigerian Army and the veracity of their claim that the corps is a militia group and report to the House within two weeks for further legislative action.”
In his submission, Mr Kayode Oladele noted that the proliferation of security outfits in the states was a confirmation of the need to create a state or community policing system for the country.
The Majority Leader, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, however stated that it was wrong for a state to create a security outfit for “defence”, which he pointed out to be an exclusive right of the military. According to him, the power of ‘defence’ is strictly that of the military as reflected on the Executive Legislative List.
The Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, who said he agreed with Gbajabiamila for not condemning the army before an investigation, asked about the Civilian Joint Task Force which is a vigilante group working with the military to fight insurgency in the North-East.
Another lawmaker, Uzoma Abonta, said several states, including Lagos where Gbajabiamila represents, had established such security outfits.
Also, the House condemned the growing ritual killings in Delta State, asking that the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to stop the development.
The lawmakers, at the plenary on Thursday, adopted a motion moved by Mr Lovette Ederin Idisi entitled, ‘Need to Investigate the Cause of the Incessant Killings of Young Female Students of Delta State University, Abraka, Delta State.’
Moving the motion, Idisi said, “The House notes the incessant killing of female students of Delta State University, Abraka, by men suspected to be ritual killers styled ‘Yahoo Boys.’