Environment, Opinion

The Challenges And Welfares Of The Nigerian Police Force

Ogunbiyi Kayode


April 14, 2024

Dear Beamers,

Greetings! With regards to the array of challenges, including ungoverned spaces, low personnel ratio, and limited resources confronting the Nigeria Police Force, the task of policing the country seems exceedingly complex. Hence, this week’s newsletter endeavors to explore the challenges and welfare of the Nigerian police force..

The intrinsic propensity for brutality in human nature, characterized as brutish, nasty, and short, is now being exhibited on a widespread scale within the country. Nihilistic perspectives have obscured the recognition that the policemen patrolling our streets are our fellow citizens—brothers, sisters, and neighbors—who also endure the same frustrations within the country and require protection.

It is a fact that our security officers are vulnerable to unexpected attacks from criminals during their official duty on the road, unprotected from unidentified criminals carrying weapons and unlawful things. These have exposed them to numerous dangerous attacks from criminals and ethnic-centric agents. They are easily picked out from the crowd because of their distinct uniform and the space they occupy on our streets and ungoverned spaces.

Indeed, our security officers face the stark reality of vulnerability to sudden attacks by criminals while performing their official duties on the roads. They remain unprotected against unidentified individuals carrying weapons and engaging in illicit activities. Consequently, they are frequently subjected to perilous assaults from hardened criminals and terrorists. Their distinctive uniforms and prominent presence in both urban streets and ungoverned areas render them easily identifiable targets.

Notably, the foremost goals of an effective police force include crime prevention, followed by the detection and punishment of offenders. The safeguarding of life and property, the maintenance of public tranquility, and the reduction of crime serve as key indicators of the success of these efforts, determining whether the objectives for which the police were established have been achieved.

The Nigerian Police Force (NPF) routinely addresses a multitude of challenges including terrorism, kidnapping, banditry, burglary, armed robberies, religious conflicts, farmer-herder disputes, domestic quarrels, cult activities, fraud, unauthorized protests, prostitution, homicides, drug abuse, and more.

In order to effectively achieve their objectives and fulfill their duties, it is imperative for the police force to consistently garner the voluntary cooperation of the public in adhering to the law. This cooperation is essential for securing and upholding public respect. The level of approval and collaboration from the public is directly influenced by the esteem and respect in which the police are held. Resorting to the use of physical force to maintain order inevitably diminishes the level of cooperation that can be attained from the public.

“The police need to understand that they win public support not by pleasing public opinion but by consistently showing unwavering commitment to upholding the law. They must maintain a genuine connection with the public, embodying the age-old principle that the police is your friend. It’s crucial that they stick to their duties without overstepping their boundaries and avoid any appearance of encroaching on the judiciary’s authority.” Says Olukayode Akanni

The discourse surrounding policing in Nigeria holds significant weight, given the array of challenges and achievements confronting the Nigerian police. Among the foremost challenges is the issue of inadequate salaries and insufficient training, both of which impede the efficacy of the police force. Consequently, some police officers cite these factors as justification for engaging in corrupt behaviors such as bribery, extortion, and abuse of power. This not only diminishes public confidence but also undermines the rule of law, perpetuating a culture of impunity. Such corruption compromises investigations and subverts the course of justice, resulting in a lack of accountability and fostering the perception that personal gain outweighs the mandate to protect and serve the public within the police force.

Many citizens harbor suspicions and skepticism toward the police force stemming from prior encounters involving corruption, abuse of authority, and excessive force. These unfavorable perceptions impede collaboration between law enforcement and the public, thereby posing challenges to intelligence gathering, crime prevention, and the cultivation of community policing alliances.

Another concerning issue pertains to the insufficient training and professionalism evident within the Nigerian police force. A significant number of officers are found to be lacking the essential skills and expertise required to excel in the contemporary law enforcement competently. The absence of ongoing training initiatives renders police personnel ill-prepared to address evolving security challenges, conduct thorough criminal investigations, and uphold the rights of individuals. This deficiency in professionalism not only detracts from the reputation of the police force but also jeopardizes public safety.

With a comprehensive grasp of the responsibilities entrusted to the Nigerian Police Force, it becomes a matter of urgency to assess the extent to which they have been able to fulfill these obligations, especially considering the severe constraints posed by limited financial resources, personnel, and equipment. The era wherein criminal investigative and intelligence officers relied solely on native intelligence to track criminals has become obsolete, thanks to the advent of Information and Communication Technology tools in the contemporary world. These advancements have empowered the police, military, and intelligence community to execute their duties seamlessly.

Consequently, there exists a pressing requirement for aerial surveillance systems to furnish security agencies with superior intelligence. This will facilitate professionalism, heightened performance, and swift response times to counter criminal activities within our society. Embracing advanced technology, rather than solely relying on deploying ground-level police officers to confront sophisticated criminals, is essential. Just as the protection of citizens is paramount, the preservation of the lives of our law enforcement personnel is equally indispensable for ensuring the enduring peace and progress of the nation.

Dunsin Adekoya, a Nigerian Police Officer, believes that the Ministry of Police Affairs and the Nigeria Police Trust Fund have a responsibility to facilitate the provision of equipment. In his view,

“The Ministry of Police Affairs and the Nigeria Police Trust Fund must step up efforts to fund and provide equipment to the police force from their allocated budgets. It’s crucial to ensure that these resources are accessible to divisional police stations across the country to improve response times. ”

He added, “The government needs to allocate funds specifically for essential items like armored vehicles, bulletproof vests, protective helmets, medical supplies, and drugs for the NPF. Moreover, the Police Special Weapon and Tactical Squad require proper armament, ammunition, riot control gear, and combat equipment to effectively fulfill their roles.”

Pase Lookman, a paramilitary officer based in Lagos, further emphasized that:

“Nigeria still lacks the infrastructure needed to empower the NPF and other security forces to function at their best. What we need right now is for every divisional police station to have a crack team ready to respond swiftly to incidents like kidnapping and banditry. These teams should be equipped with essentials like armored vehicles, tracking drones, and advanced weaponry to effectively coordinate with the task force, ensuring a rapid and efficient response to the challenges at hand.”

Truly, modern equipment like drones and tracking devices, which offer significant advantages in combating criminals, bandits, kidnappers, and terrorists in the country, are either inadequate or unavailable to the police at the area command or divisional levels. There exists an urgent necessity for both the government and the private sector to address this deficiency. It is crucial to acknowledge the operational gap of such high-tech equipment in Nigeria.

The utilization of drones in law enforcement holds significant value. Drones possess the capability to survey areas from the air swiftly and efficiently, surpassing the capabilities of officers on foot or in vehicles. Furthermore, drones can navigate through tight spaces such as tree cover or between buildings, accessing locations inaccessible to helicopters. Equipped with thermal cameras, drones can easily detect lost or missing individuals concealed under debris, even in low-light conditions.

Furthermore ensuring the welfare of the Nigerian police force requires combating corruption. To effectively combat corruption, it is imperative for the senior leadership within the police hierarchy to remain steadfast in implementing measures aimed at rooting out corrupt individuals from the force.

Past neglect of the Police Force has resulted in a decline in adherence to procedures and standards, manpower shortages, inadequate equipment, diminishing welfare provisions, disloyalty, insubordination, and a pursuit of wealth through illicit means within the police ecosystem. It is evident that societal vices, which have permeated various facets of society, are reflected in the conduct of certain police officers in the field. A significant portion of the rank and file within the force is contributing to image issues, thereby eroding citizen confidence in partnering with the Police Force.

There is a pressing need for an inter-agency collaboration workshop to reinforce the core concept of promoting peace, safety, and security in Nigeria. The significance of interagency collaboration, particularly among stakeholders within the security ecosystem, is paramount for fostering overall advancements in Nigeria’s security sector. Such collaboration will facilitate the cultivation of mutual trust and the effective management of information. Achieving this objective will require seamless liaison efforts at both strategic and operational levels.

As an integral component of our nation’s ongoing endeavors to bolster security and ensure the safety of all citizens, careful consideration should be given to the establishment of state police alongside the existing national police force in Nigeria. This strategic initiative, long anticipated, holds the potential to effectively address the evolving security challenges confronting our nation.

It will uphold the principle of subsidiarity, wherein law enforcement responsibilities are decentralized to better address the unique security needs of individuals residing and working in Nigeria. The introduction of state police forces will enable more efficient and responsive handling of local security threats and incidents, as state governments will be empowered to maintain law and order within their respective jurisdictions.

Egbuchua Somto, on the other hand, emphasizes the necessity for implementing robust checks and balances to prevent the abuse of power in the event of introducing state police forces. In his words,

“The government needs to put in place solid checks and balances to make sure state police forces are honest, professional, and respectful of human rights. There’s gonna be serious challenges with funding, political commitment, and people’s attitudes towards law enforcement. That’s why the body in charge of coordinating state policing needs to be totally independent from the state’s executive branch. This way, decisions won’t be swayed by politics, and we can have a real system of accountability for state policing in Nigeria. This commission would handle everything from recruitment and training to discipline and overall management of the state police force.”

However, despite the efforts of the police in combatting kidnapping and armed robbery in the country, their success is not fully recognized by the majority of the populace. The Force has reflected the societal decay it was established to combat, aiming to enforce rules and regulations that would promote awareness of the consequences of individuals’ actions and encourage civil behavior across the nation.

In certain regions of Nigeria, the fear of criminal attacks is palpable due to vested interests, frequent property destruction, and citizen harassment. Many individuals are currently grappling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of firsthand experiences with these harrowing criminal incidents. Consequently, there is a pressing need to reassure affected individuals and provide them with the assurance that avenues for seeking redress and obtaining justice exist in cases where their rights are violated.

Regarding instances of abuse of power by rogue police officers, it is necessary for the government to ensure that Nigerians have access to a reliable platform through which they can seek redress if they encounter mistreatment at the hands of law enforcement personnel. By assuring citizens that their interests are paramount to our leaders and to the police, who are entrusted with safeguarding our society, individuals will be more inclined to place their trust in law enforcement agencies, rather than basing their judgments solely on past incidents. Providing such assurances will help alleviate tensions during precarious times such as these.

The primary duties of the police encompass the prevention and detection of crime, apprehension of offenders, maintenance of law and order, protection of life and property, and the enforcement of all relevant laws and regulations, including military duties within Nigeria. Consequently, in order for the police to execute these crucial responsibilities efficiently, effectively, and commendably, the unwavering support of the society or community is indispensable.

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