Abill seeking to amend the constitution to withdraw the powers of Federal Road Safety Corps officials from bearing arms is now before the House of Representatives.
The sponsor of the bill, Akin Alabi (APC-Oyo) wants Section 19 of the FRSC Act, which empowers personnel of the federal agency to carry arms in the discharge of their duties, to be expunged in its entirety. Section 19 of the FRSC (Establishment) Act, 2007, says: “Personnel of the commission, who are exposed to high risk in the enforcement of the provisions of this act, shall have same powers, authorities and privileges, including power to bear arms.”
Mr. Alabi, in a letter addressed to the Speaker of House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila, dated December 1, 2020, sought to amend the ACT by “completely eliminating the entire section (19).”
The federal lawmaker prayed the Speaker to approve the bill for presentation on the floor of the green chamber.
In 2019, the Buhari administration had announced plans to implement the FRSC Act, mandating officials of the corps to be possession of firearms due to the surge in violent crimes on Nigerian roads.
“By the time it (the FRSC Act) is assented by the president, it will allow men and personnel of the corps to not only protect themselves but to also protect the citizens who ply the roads every day,” the Secretary to the Government of the Federation Boss Mustapha had said in Abuja, while inaugurating operational vehicles presented to the agency by the government.
FRSC chief marshal Boboye Oyeyemi had lamented that many operatives of the corps had been lost to armed robbery attacks on the highway, hence the need for President Muhammadu Buhari to gazette the Act, which empowers road safety officers to bear arms.
Many Nigerians, however, worry that the excesses of FRSC operatives could escalate if they are allowed to carry firearms, raising fears of human rights abuses and brutal use of force.
Mr. Alabi said he is determined to reduce arms proliferation amongst Nigerian law enforcement agencies, although it was yet unclear when the bill would come up for consideration by the entire House.
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