Curbing Corruption In The Nigerian Police

Opinion

The Nigerian Police was established as a small consular guard in the Lagos colony of 1861. The law enforcement units in the various British colonies of what is now Nigeria, like the Royal Niger company constabulary established in 1894, which eventually became the Northern Nigeria Police force and the Niger Coast Constabulary, which became the…

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The Nigerian Police was established as a small consular guard in the Lagos colony of 1861. The law enforcement units in the various British colonies of what is now Nigeria, like the Royal Niger company constabulary established in 1894, which eventually became the Northern Nigeria Police force and the Niger Coast Constabulary, which became the Southern Nigeria Police force, merged to become the Nigerian Police force in 1930. Like most government institutions during the colonial era, the Police was a prestigious one – worthy of global envy.

But due to corrupt and repressive military governments and its civilian doppelgängers over the last 50 years, the Nigerian Police has become a shadow of what it once was. And feels like an abomination to the people it was chartered with protecting. Today the Nigerian Police conducts its operations utilizing the most brutal methods that would embarrass the Khmer Rouge.

It is common for the Police to torture, and sometimes end up killing suspects just to get a confession. The Police is still known to arrest and detain family members of known absconded suspects so as to bring them out of hiding. A Police man would fabricate evidence just to indict an innocent victim who refused to succumb to extortion. The vision statement of the Nigerian Police according to its website is “to make Nigeria safer and more secure for economic development and growth; to create a safe and secure environment for everyone living in Nigeria”. Practically every Nigerian today would scoff cynically at that statement.

Indeed the Police today is inherently corrupt and backward. So what steps do we take to eradicate – or at least mitigate to manageable levels – corruption within the Nigerian Police.

First, we need an independent police. The Nigerian Police force, currently, is very partisan and highly susceptible to the whims of an incumbent government or the highest bidder; many times ignoring the constitution and court orders all in the name of doing the bids of its overlords. It is common for a rich man to go to a precinct and hire police officers to intimidate his rivals; or for a politician to do the same, but this time harassing political rivals – mostly incumbents intimidating oppositions. This has to come to an end. But how do we achieve this?

The president should no longer have the right to appoint the Inspector General of Police. A Board should be set up to select the IG of police. This board would contain representatives of all political parties that have any elected seat anywhere. No matter how large or small the political parties are, all the representatives would have equal voting rights and powers within the board. This board would also be responsible for approving promotions to the AIG level.

Second, all police stations should have installed in every room, including holding cells, surveillance cameras. These cameras would be controlled remotely. Nobody in a local police station would be able to tamper with the operations of the camera. This would mitigate illicit activities like bribing and police brutality in the police stations, dramatically. The surveillance systems would also extend outdoors. At least 100 metres within the vicinity of every police station would be under surveillance. So police men who would want to be “smart-asses”, cannot to go out to conduct illicit activities.

The surveillance recordings would be audited by a separate body, establish under a separate Act of law or Charter. The Police would have no influence over it. This group could be called the Police and Judicial Crimes Commission. They would, in essence, be the police of the police and would only have the right to investigate and prosecute crimes within the Nigerian Police Force.

Finally, the methods and procedures used in the selection and training of police men would have to be changed. Using the police as a channel to create employment for the general population would be a thing of the past; only the best and brightest would be allowed chosen. A minimum education requirement of a Bachelor’s degree should be put in place. The remuneration of every police officer would be 30% more than his counterpart in any other line of work. Then the Police Academy should be world class – the model of the FBI Academy at Quantico could be a reference point. Police officers would be trained in pristine environments with the best facilities. The ramshackle and dilapidated facilities of the current Police Academies across the country would be a thing of the past.

A Police Officer who comes from a culture of excellence and understands the true meaning of Justice, is less likely to ask for a bribe, extort innocent citizens or offer him or herself up for hire to the highest bidder.

Responses

  1. MPDchic
    O how I hate d Nigerian police! One idiot shot at a cab I was in last year. Fine d cab guy was driving on the middle partition (and I kept shouting o! Chei) but a weapon was discharged and d idiot just walked away! Dint even walk up to d cab! If they have to account for every bullet that kinda BS won’t happen.
    Ive being saying this for yrs, the police force should be scrapped, everybody currently employed fired! Then dey should start an academy and start all over again! Former police officers interested have to re-apply and pass through the academy.
    1. Tam
      Wise suggestion, but firing the police force at once might only make the nation descend to anarchy. Please read this http://www.cbc.ca/archives/categories/politics/civil-unrest/general-27/montreals-night-of-terror.html and you would know why I say so. The absent of any law enforcement, is a horrible thing to a nation.

      A better way is to keep all the police men on probation. Start the reapplication process again, those that meet the requirements would be sent to the Academy. Those who do not would still be on mark time, maintaining law and order as the currently do. So once the first batch is done – out of the Academy – the “mark time” police men would be relieved of there jobs, for the new crop of sophisticated police to begin there duties.

      The just retrenched policemen would still be paid salaries – that is the one they were earning before they were retrenched – for one year, pending the time they get another job. And those who lack skills would be required to undergo vocational training sponsored by the government for that one year.

      This is done to prevent addition to the unemployment pool.

  2. Mrpresident
    This is my first comment on TNC(after following it for over a year now). The article is impressive,however I agree with all the recommendations except creating a Board for appointing the IGP,that will have all political parties represented. The state(nation) is party blind,we already have ministry of police affairs and SA to the president on police affairs. We should not create more avenues for corruption while trying to curb it. At the end you cannot have a corruption free police force if the larger society is riddled with corruption.Are the police officers not from the larger society?
    1. Katniss
      The larger society is corruption-filled because the penalties for these acts aren’t enforced. So whether it’s in the police force, on the roads, civil service, etc we can begin to work towards having an environment that is anti-indiscipline when people are punished for wrongdoings
      1. Tam
        The larger Nigeria population is corrupt, so as many other places in the world. The issue is dealing with a corrupt police and a corrupt judiciary. Because once people lose hope in these two institutions, a recipe for state failure is being served.
        The police is responsible for maintaining law and order, so they must be impervious to the corruption of the larger society. That is they must learn not to accept bribe, or be brutal. Training and personal background can do this. There are many Nigerians who would want the country to be one of “due process”. But Nigeria is a country that being good is almost impossible because of institutionalized would begin to follow suit. Whether we like it or not these two institutions are prescient in moving Nigeria to a better place.
    2. Tam
      Yes the Police are from the larger society. The Board does not contain representatives from any political party, but representatives from political parties that have any seat anywhere. If this might be a problem – if all the political parties with any seat any where are only PDP or APC – several civil societies, could be enlisted for this. The point is to remove the selection of the police chief from the hands of the president so he does not feel any undue allegiance to him. I also made this point in another article stating that the president should not be allowed to choose the INEC chairman and the Chief Justice of the Federation.
  3. Tori
    I like the fact that you did not just discuss the problem, but you also proposed a solution. I agree with everything except the part about Political Parties picking the IGP.

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