The House of Representatives on Wednesday, 16th March, 2022 at the plenary session passed the second reading of the bill seeking to regulate peacekeeping operations by the Nigerian military, the police, the civil defence and other security organisations.
The proposed legislation titled “A Bill for an Act to Provide for Statutory Regulations of Peace Keeping Operations by Members of the Nigerian Armed Forces, the Nigerian Police, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and Other Security Organizations; and for Related Matters (HB.18.07.1513)”, which was sponsored by the Chairman Committee on Public Accounts, Hon. Wole Oke.
The sponsor of the bill, Wole Oke said that, since independence, Nigeria has been a frontline state and major contributor to United Nations (UN) and Non-UN peacekeeping initiatives and in 1960, deployed the first set of Individual Police Officers in Africa.
The lawmaker said Nigeria has spent over US$8 billion in peacekeeping missions within the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS)countries such as Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali and Sierra Leone.
He also said the proposed legislation stipulates that all costs to be incurred in a peacekeeping mission must be first appropriated by the National Assembly and costs that will be reimbursed by the United Nations or similar body can later be reimbursed.
He further said the Bill seeks to provide a clear guide on the compensation regime for security personnel that are involved in peacekeeping operation and suffered from some form of bodily or physical and mental or emotional injury.
Oke expressed optimism that when passed into law, the Bill will strengthen the Nigerian experience in future peacekeeping operations and will define the boundaries and set out the regulatory framework for that purpose.
He said, “The legendary feats of our gallant Armed Forces remains evident in countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone where we poured human and material resources to bring peace to those troubled States at that time.
He cited examples, as he indicated that in 2004, Nigerian troops were deployed to Darfur as a part of the African Union Mission in Sudan, where Nigeria provided 1,200 troops and 200 Police Officers to Mali in 2004.
It is however surprising that despite the fact that we have been a major contributor to UN and non-UN peacekeeping missions, Nigeria does not have a regulatory framework that guides the deployment and withdrawal of Nigerian troops and security personnel from conflict zones. Interestingly, Nigerian law does not contain a single provision on this subject matter.
“Even though Section 305 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as altered) 1999 (Constitution), vests clear powers in the President to declare a state of emergency in the Federation or part thereof, these powers are restricted to the boundaries of Nigeria. Hence, where there is the need to deploy troops and security personnel outside the shores of Nigeria, the Constitution does not make any specific provision for this and the practice has been that the President simply gives his approval for involvement in peacekeeping mission(s).
The practice in other jurisdictions is different because there is a clear legal framework in place that clearly outlines the steps that should be taken when such a decision is to be taken and clearly spells out the rules that guides its operations. Many other jurisdictions have similar laws and it is important that this important foreign policy tool at our disposal is properly regulated and the required legal framework exists and is comparable with the practice in other countries.”