A Statement By The Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy Group; Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA) On The Kano State Hisbah Police, How It Offends The Constitution Of The Federal Republic Of Nigeria And Calling For An End To The Talibanization Of Kano State While Accusing The Governor; Abdullahi Umar Ganduje Of Carrying Out The Blueprints Of The Organization Of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)
Clearly, Section 214(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) makes policing and security in Nigeria, the exclusive preserve of the Federal Government.
It provides thus: “There shall be a police force for Nigeria, which shall be known as the Nigeria Police Force, and subject to the provisions of this section, no other police force shall be established for the Federation or any part thereof.”
Continuing, subsection 2 (a), (b) and (c) of the same section provides that: “Subject to the provisions of this Constitution:
(a) The Nigeria Police Force shall be organized and administered in accordance with such provisions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly;
(b) The members of the Nigeria Police Force shall have such powers and duties as may be conferred upon them by law;
(c) The National Assembly may make provisions for branches of the Nigeria Police Force forming part of the armed forces of the Federation or for the protection of harbours, waterways, railways and air fields.”
Explicitly, Section 4(2) of the Constitution empowers the National Assembly to make laws with regards to Exclusive Legislative List thus:
“The National Assembly shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation or any part thereof with respect to any matter included in the Exclusive Legislative List set out in Part 1 of the Second Schedule to this Constitution.”
While Item 45 of the Exclusive Legislative List in Part 1 of the Second Schedule to the Constitution specifies “Police and other government security services established by law”, item 68 of the List includes “Any matter incidental or supplementary to any matter mentioned elsewhere in this list”.
Consequently, the Police Act, among other laws was passed in recognition of the above wherein section 4 of the Act stipulates that: “The Police shall be employed for the prevention and detection of crime, apprehension of offenders, the preservation of law and order, the protection of life and property and the due enforcement of all laws and regulation with which they are charged and shall perform such military duties within or outside Nigeria as may be required of them by, or under the authority of this or any other Act.”
By implication of the forgoing provisions, it is main duty of the National Assembly that has powers to make law as regards Policing and Security services in Nigeria. The State House of Assembly can as well make laws for the good governance of their states but certainly not to upgrade one RELIGION AS A STATE RELIGION IN FLAGRANT DISREGARD FOR THE UNAMBIGUOUS PROVISIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA ESPECIALLY SECTION 10 AND A PLETHORA OF OTHER FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS PROVISIONS WHICH RECOGNISES THE FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE FREEDOM OF THE CITIZENS TO CHANGE THEIR RELIGIONS IF THEY SO WISH.
However, contrary to these unambiguous provisions of the Constitution, in most States of northern Nigeria, there exists one form of RELIGIOUS security apparatus or the other under different names with uniformity of functions and operations of Hisbah. This is totally unacceptable. It’s distinct from the formation of SECULAR VIGILANTES SUCH AS AMOTEKUN WHICH IS NOT IN VIOLATION OF THE CONSTITUTION BECAUSE SUCH VIGILANTES ARE TO INSTIL A SENSE OF SECURITY AND STABILITY TO THOSE BUT DO NOT OPERATE AS RELIGIOUS POLICE LIKE THE ILLEGAL ISLAMIC POLICE IN KANO AMONGST OTHER FAR NORTHERN STATES.
Hisbah Police in Kano State backed by Kano State Hisbah Corps Law of 2003, which functions principally to enforce Islamic sharia by “enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong on every Muslim”, is reasoned as not an establishment of AN Act of the National Assembly as provided for by our constitution.
WHY THE HISBAH POLICE OFFENDS OUR CONSTITUTION
The Hisbah Police in Kano, which is backed by Kano State Hisbah Corps Law of 2003 and passed by the Kano the Kano State House of Assembly, contravenes the provisions of the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) regulating policing and other security agencies as stated earlier.
Hence there is the problem of legality. Though established by law, but passage of such laws on matters not within the legislative competence of the State Houses of Assembly makes the laws and by extension the outfits or organizations which they establish, illegal from the beginning. INFACT EVEN THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY CAN NOT CREATE RELIGIOUS POLICE UNDER ANY GUISE BECAUSE NIGERIA IS LEGALLY A SECULAR AND/OR A MULTI RELIGIOUS ENTITY.
Also, there is the problem of mode of operation, which violates rights enshrined in the Constitution. According to the law setting them up, the Kano State Hisbah Police are not empowered to effect arrest, but reports have it that they often effect arrest. These they even sometimes do in the crudest fashion including disruption of social and economic activities.
More worrisome is they often invade people’s privacies or premises without warrant or legal authority. They also carry out raids of vessels or vehicles or premises believed to be harbours of or used in delivery of alcohol, seize and destroy the products. Again these states that set up HISBAH ISLAMIC POLICE DO PARTAKE IN THE SHARING OF THE FEDERALLY GENERATED TAXES INCLUDING TAXES GENERATED BY THE FEDERAL INLAND REVENUE SERVICES FROM BREWERIES OPERATING IN OTHER PARTS OF NIGERIA.
Again, despite the argument that the Hisbah Police do not bear arms, they have in actual fact been found with arms and have thereby become a threat to lives in some occasions especially to the non-indigenous residents of or visitors to the applicable communities and even to the natives of such states who are not Moslems.
Furthermore, as much as it could be argued that the Kano State Hisbah Police is established in furtherance of peace and order, it is no doubt specifically to ensure compliance with “Islamic injunction” which is tantamount to enforcement of the religious standards.
This religious inclination and linking in a mixed and plural civil society with the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion as guaranteed by the Constitution is a troubling characteristic.
Section 10 of the Constitution prohibits the Government of the Federation or of a State from adopting any religion as State religion. Even though the Hisbah Police is not out rightly stated to be adoption of State religion, but since a State cannot adopt a religion as a State religion, it also cannot establish an outfit which primary function is the enforcement of religious standard at a governmental level.
OUR POSITION AND DEMANDS
The sections of the Constitution regulating policing and security services are clear and unambiguous and the first rule of interpretation being the literal rule has to be applied to them. We have already established from such provisions that the National Assembly has powers to make law as regards Policing and security services in Nigeria and the STATE HOUSES OF ASSEMBLY CAN MAKE LAW FOR THE GOOD GOVERNANCE OF THEIR STATES BUT ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO CREATE RELIGIOUS POLICE.
Therefore, Hisbah Police not being an establishment of an Act of the National Assembly and by virtue of its manner of operation in violation of legal rights guaranteed by the Constitution as well as enforcing a religious standard as an agent of the States authorizing it is an illegal outfit.
So, we are by this statement urging the Nigerian government to disband the illegal HISBAH POLICE with immediate effect.
Relatedly, HURIWA is perturbed on how Kano state under the incumbent Governor Abdullahi Ganduje is becoming a Taliban State, with sentences that offend constitutional freedoms.
The sentencing to death by hanging of Yahaya Sharif-Aminu on August 10, 2020 found guilty of blasphemy against the Holy Prophet Muhammad by the Upper Sharia Court, and others are testaments of how Kano State has recently turned into a Taliban State.
There seems to be no disparity between what Gov. Ganduje is doing in Kano State and what Boko Haram Terrorists have been preaching. It is no news that Boko Haram, which was founded upon the principles of Salafism advocates strict adherence to Sharia and subsequently developed into a Jihadist group in 2009.
As a foremost civil rights advocacy group, passionate about advancing just and equitable development in our country, we are calling for an end to the TALIBANIZATION OF KANO STATE. It is obvious that the governor is carrying out the blueprints of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and this does bot augur well for the well being of Nigeria as a constitutional democracy.
*COMRADE EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO:NATIONAL COORDINATOR.
MISS. Zainab Yusuf:Director, National Media Affairs.
HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA).
October 5th 2020.