What We Get Wrong About the Nigeria Police Force

Failure to Recognize That The NPF Is Practically Irredeemable And Operates In A Crazy Nigerian Environment. The Unjust Police Killing Of Unarmed Bolanle Rahemm
Feature Article What We Get Wrong About the Nigeria Police Force
DEC 28, 2022 LISTEN

In the aftermath of one more fatal police shooting of innocent Nigerian citizens, this time a Lagos female lawyer, Bolanle Rahemm, by another serving police officer, one hears the demand for law enforcement reform in Nigeria. Is Nigeria crazy? Senseless police shootings, ridiculous police exploitation, fruitless police leadership, and a worthless judicial system: have we grown dangerously comfortable with a nation gone mad? The Nigerian police organization is a crisis within a crisis—Nigeria.

Year in and year out, Nigerians refuse to see why calls for Nigeria's police reform are stuck in non-actualization. It is because the country keeps going crazy. Where a large population of older Nigerians will show dislike or indifference to youths protesting for real police reform.

There is this ultimate perception that, with time, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) will truly change—no, it will not; it has reached a point of no return.

There are many reasons why the Nigerian police force needs to be dismantled and its national presence dramatically reduced; too many of its operatives are seemingly mentally sick. Police officers with untreated mental illness are patrolling our streets and remain a real danger to society.

For a national internal law enforcement body known as Nigeria's police, which has existed since 1820, if after 200 years it's still trying to find its way as a professional environment where police officers work responsibly, then the nation is truly mad.

The Nigeria police force has not effectively or even moderately helped in enforcing laws, preventing crime, respond to emergencies, and provide support services, so why should it not be dismantled.

It is no longer possible for a nation like Nigeria to expect a police officer's primary duty to be to protect people and property.

In Nigeria like many nations police officers are responsible for providing law and order, seemingly keeping communities safe from crime. But in a crazy society like Nigeria, it is just okay that they are used by people in power to coerce their political opponents and do household work.

For far too long, the NPF has remained a broken institution that does not place the average Nigerian’s interest and well-being at the foundation of its general function.

In recent times, the #EndSARS social movement in Nigeria helped reveal to the world the ongoing culture of police brutality, abuse, and impunity within the NPF, as seen in the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), that has reportedly changed in designation mainly.

To the average Nigerian, the police, in their state of demonization and criminalization, have long been notorious for their brutality against citizens.

Its members have continuously engaged in extrajudicial executions, different sorts of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, and dishonesty. But why?

When you have many persons joining a vocation by every means possible just to get a "job," even if it is not their main work interest, possible questions of mental health and soundness arise, and they become the operatives, enforcers, and even protectors of the citizens. So, it should not be surprising when unrestrained police shootings and torture across the country continue.

To the average Nigerian, the police have long been infamous for their brutality against citizens.

Its members have continuously engaged in extrajudicial executions, different sorts of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, and dishonesty.

Even when so-called disciplinary actions taken against erring officers are carried out, they have not yielded the same deterrence as indiscriminate shootings because many have untreated psychological disturbances.

It is no wonder that we saw the ranking of the Nigeria Police as the worst security agency among 127 countries that the World Internal Security and Police Index International surveyed in 2016.

In the survey, when the NPF was measured across the four indices of capacity, process, legitimacy, and outcomes employed by the body, it reportedly scored extremely low way below the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Uganda, and Pakistan.

For many who currently serve in our streets, if anonymously spoken to, one will find, as the media has reported, that real or authentic psychological testing is lacking because they are not done in terms of actual pre- and post-employment psychological assessment as Nigeria lacks adequate and suitable psychological clinicians, and even if there are some professionals who can carry out these evaluations they are not utilized fully.

The police system and its so-called leadership do not focus on the outcomes in terms of psychological, ethical, and integrity clearance of candidates undergoing recruitment and becoming members of the rank and file and officers, as they just need "bodies."

As a result, potential, subtle, or outright insane men and women in police uniform are allowed to carry guns, patrol the streets, and be asked to "maintain orders."

Consequently, the least amount of stress or frustration is bound to provoke hostility in already susceptible and psychologically driven police personnel, who will then prove hostile to the public.

Realistically, how do we start making already serving over policemen and women start going through real psychiatric and psychological evaluations to remove the terribly mad ones from a force that has the strength of more than 350,000 men and women, covering all 36 Nigerian states and the federal capital territory, Abuja? How?

The Nigeria Police Force can no longer be considered the country's primary law enforcement and security organization. It is chronically in a maddening state.

The Nigerian people are in desperate need of psychologically screened and certified law enforcement workers, as well as already-serving functional men and women in uniform. As the saying goes, there is a lesser of two evils in selecting from two law enforcement options.

The Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps, a much newer policing outfit, is known to conduct psychological assessment and evaluation for its recruits and other uniform personnel on a continuous basis.

So, if truth be told, no amount of money and coaching will help remodel the endemic nature of police mismanagement, disorderliness, corruption, and violence.

At this point, there is no "cure" for the membership of the Nigerian police force, and it appears that they will almost never be able to show true change.

The dismantling of the Nigerian police could begin by transforming and limiting its officers to federal protective services and assigning them as Abuja (Federal Capital Territory) officers, airport and coastal police, and other personnel assigned to protect Nigeria diplomatic facilities, national assembly buildings, federal courts, federal higher institutions, federal medical facilities, and other federally related grounds and resources.

Under the Jonathan and Buhari administrations, the adoption of change in Nigerian policing through state policing has fallen on deaf ears, as the corrupt ruling and political elites use a good number of these limited, albeit ineffective, weak abilities as personal goods and to oppress him. Don’t believe that there is anything wrong with it, but the average sensible citizen does.