Prelude I witnessed this scenario played out in court in 2005 at Ikeja High Court, a Nigeria Police Force (NPF) case Investigating Police Officer (IPO) during a trial's examination in chief when questioned by defence counsel rather contemptuously in manner and conduct answered the questions put to him by learned counsel. When learned counsel informed him that he should answer the questions with respect to the court and that he (learned counsel) as a retired Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) deserved respect, the IPO did not depart from his demeanour and continued to answer learned counsel's questions in the same manner and conduct as before. After the trial hearing adjourned, observers in court bemoaned the IPO's conduct and stated that had learned counsel been a retired officer of the Armed Forces, the IPO's conduct would have been different. This in a nutshell sums up all that is wrong with policing in Nigeria the lack of discipline and accountability reflected in the ranks of its officers. These features coupled with the lack of respect and wanton disregard by officers of the NPF for the sanctity of human life through its treatment of the people it is supposed to serve are glaring and noticeable to observers of policing in Nigeria evidenced by past incidents of unlawful killing by the police of innocent civilians too numerous to mention. These killings are not extra judicial they are killings which are unconstitutional and not authorised by the law to describe them as otherwise is to give them a false sense of legitimacy.
Background Effective policing in Nigeria is often handicapped by the huge gulf in precepts and practices in the engagement of the community in policing at the grassroots. In essence it is imperative to redress this balance by actively engaging the community in the accountability of grassroots policing. A strong effective police force is sin qua non to the sustainability of good governance, rule of law and the economic growth and development of a county. There exists a plethora of studies by academics and international bodies, which have indicated this and to elaborate on this would unduly extend the scope of this discourse. In a 174-country world ranking by the United Nations office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Nigeria is placed 151 in Human Development Index (HDI), 62 in the Human Poverty Index (HPI) among 85 countries, and 124 in Gender-related Development Index (GDI) among 143 countries. These indicators are indeed poor and overall, Nigeria is rated among the low human development countries. In achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and improving Nigeria's HPI ranking emphasis are placed on empowering the community in the accountability of state institutions such as the Police. Hence in view of recent observations about the operational effectiveness and capabilities of the Police in Nigeria it is apt to envisage alternatives and indeed proffer solutions to addressing the challenges of policing in Nigeria.
Policing in Nigeria has a chequered history and it is on record that there has been an abysmal failure on its effectiveness and operational capabilities evidenced at home and abroad through the conduct of some its personnel in Missions abroad. Charity it is said begins at home! I dare say that service abroad where the Force has excelled in the Congo and Cyprus in the 1960s and 1970s has been fraught with problems with service lately in the 1990s and later years thereon in missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the former Yugoslavia territory of Kosovo and Liberia. To an extend these failures in personnel conduct also mirrors that of our Armed Forces in Liberia, Darfur, Rwanda and some of the countries mentioned earlier. Whether we have learnt any lessons or indeed instituted disciplinary actions for Police personnel and court martial for service personnel is a question for another day. If this were the case then records of the follow on action by authorities in these incidents are not available in the public domain. If we proceed on the assumption that there were proceedings then the Police have certainly not learnt any lessons by these episodes. This is not a Nigerian issue because there exists a strong and impeccable record of unblemished service in the international public service arena through work in international governmental organisations exemplified and pioneered by the brilliance of distinguished individuals like Chief Simeon Adebo, Dr Taslim Elias (both of blessed memory), Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Professor Adebayo Adedeji and those still in service holding senior positions at the United Nations as Under Secretary-Generals, Head of Missions, Registrar of the International Criminal Tribunals, Vice Presidents of the World Bank and also as Secretary of the World Bank Administrative Tribunal has not transcended into tangible lessons for our Police when they have served in missions abroad. This clearly is a challenge for our government.
Community policing It is essential that restoring the public confidence and trust of the police service should involve a renewed methodology of community policing, partnership with civil societies and best practice models prevalent in democratic societies are essential in driving the agenda for reform and change to policing in Nigeria.
Community policing is based on the willingness of the police service, which is responsive to the needs of the community as indicative from the word 'service' as opposed to 'force'. This is linked with the need to build bridges with the community and society by creating structures, which relate at the local level to the service's command structure. A truly localised police service is responsible and accountable to the community it serves. Hence responsibility is from the state and to local levels. This entails a bottom top approach that sees responsibility being devolved to local Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) who are often the busiest with command responsibility in the police and head operational command of the Police Service at local police stations. The creation of structures aside from the Police Service Commission (PSC) is necessary to ensure that local policing is attentive to local needs. Hence the creation at local and metropolitan levels (depending on the local needs) voluntary service liaison boards or bodies involving other related agencies within the Criminal Justice Service (CJS) such as the Prison Service, State Security Service (SSS), the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NAFDAC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Immigration Service, the Department of Customs and Excise, victims of crime, voluntary groups, societies and NGOs to mention but a few.
The Police Service does not exist within a vacuum in the society it serves hence the relationship it builds in engaging with the local community through different groups, societies and bodies are part and parcel of a successful approach to policing. Successful democratic societies have a police service whose powers and duties are subject to scrutiny and oversight by bodies mandated for such purpose within the ambit of the law primarily the Police Act 1990 and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (CFRN 1999). In essence this requires NPF as a police service to maintain at all times fairness, objectivity, justice, impartiality, neutrality and respect in its dealings with stakeholders. Stakeholders for the purposes of the service are the other CJS partners and the community.
STEP Factors STEP an acronym for Social, Technological, Economic and Political factors, which influence change to state institutions of which the police service is an integral part is of particular relevance to understanding the foundations of building and sustaining an efficient, effective and accountable Police Service.
Social factors, which impinge on policing in the community, include aspects of diversity, gender and ethnicity. This is enhanced through effective public awareness, public education and school programmes that prevent violence against women by promoting equality, cooperation, mutual respect and shared responsibilities between women and men. Responsible policing should be in tune with the diversity in the community they serve through initiatives like promoting positive conflict resolution, redressing marginalisation and social exclusion. Social programmes should employ education and public awareness strategies to foster a culture of lawfulness and tolerance.
The technological factor can be evidenced in the increased use of GSM Mobile phones. Nigeria is generally reckoned to be one of the fastest growing markets in the world after China and India and in Africa the market with greatest potential in terms of subscribers to the Mobile telephony network. The advent of the Internet age has fuelled the boom in Internet cafes though Internet access is currently in the low numbers this is bound to pick up with the development of mobile telephony networks to support Internet access. The importance of the latest developments in technology as seen with mobile telephony cannot be overemphasized in enhancing effective, responsive and efficient policing to the community. For a country the size of Nigeria with localities often cut off from main cities and major towns the latest advances in mobile telephony surely enhances the role of the police service. The emergence of satellite and cable television service augments communication in the community enabling access by the community to understanding what the Police service stands for, its role in society and its relationship with service users. A program of change necessitates that those 'in the know' to those who need 'to know' disseminate communication. These technological advances at the forefront of the challenges bring about Nigeria. As a country, which pioneered the TV age in 1959 with the first TV station in Africa new technological, advances the country is used to adapting to such changes.
The economic concept is based on such factors such as employment, earning power, lack of opportunity and poverty. A correlation can be readily established with the factors mentioned and the trust placed by society in the police service. Those at the lower spectrum of the economic scale are least likely to trust and confide in the police service for obvious reasons in a society where a lot of emphasis is placed on the creation of wealth. On the other hand those at the higher spectrum of the economic scale have more trust and confidence in the police service than those earlier cited it certainly should not be portrayed as a vote of confidence in the police service.
The political concept examines the police service as a state institution in a modern democratic society. The police service should be seen as being at the service of the people in a democratic society. The political environment is micro-scoped within each of the state's local government areas. The political factor is also influenced by the will of the government and the support given by the three arms of the government to the Police Service. There is a synergy linking the STEP paradigm. Social factors are influenced to a large extent by favourable economic factors. Similarly advances in technology improve social and economic well-being. Political factors particularly in form of legislation influence social, economic and technological factors. Understanding the paradigm and its synergy is of great relevance to the role of the police service in Nigeria. A correlation of these factors is prevalent in the classic SWOT approach enunciated in section below, mainly as an objective to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats presented in community engagement to grassroots policing.
Legal basis and the handicap of Federalism The legal basis of the policing in Nigeria is provided for in Section 214 (1), CFRN 1999 which states inter-alia that, 'there shall be a police force for Nigeria, which shall be known as the Nigeria Police Force, and subject to the provisions of this section no other police force shall be established for the Federation or any part thereof'. Section 215 (2) further states that, 'The Nigeria Police Force shall be under the command of the Inspector-General of Police and contingents of the Nigeria Police Force stationed in a state shall, subject to the authority of the Inspector-General of Police, be under the command of the Commissioner of Police of that state'. The provisions of the section 215 (4) states that, 'Subject to the provisions of this section, the Governor of a state or such Commissioner of the Government state as he may authorise in that behalf, may give to the Commissioner of Police of that state such lawful directions with respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order within the state as he may consider necessary, and the Commissioner of Police shall comply with those directions or cause them to be complied'.
The powers of the State Governor to issue directives, instructions and orders to the State Commissioner of Police are qualified and subject to superintending authority of the President or a Federal Minister who is acting under the authority of the president in that regard. The constitution is somewhat silent on the issue of which instructions will prevail in the event of conflicting and contradictory instructions from the Inspector General of Police (IGF) and the State Governor. The points in issue are that whatever constitutional guarantees there are for the Governor of state with respect to control of the police contingent in his state, it is somewhat limited, qualified, constrained and subject to the dictates of State Commissioner of Police, Inspector General, the President and a minister acting under the authority of the president and not in accordance with the holders of such offices acting in good faith or in the public interest.
It is respectfully submitted that the framers of the Nigerian constitution whatever the good intentions they had, failed to envisage the problems Section 215 (2) and (4) would cause in defining the powers of the State Governor with respect to the police contingent in their state. This is no doubt influenced by the restrictions placed in Section 4 (2) and Part 1 of the Second Schedule of the Constitution. Section 4 (2) of the constitution which states that, 'The National Assembly shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation or any part thereof with respect to any matter included in the Exclusive Legislative List set out in Part 1 of the Second Schedule to this constitution'. Item 45 of the said list states, 'Police and other government security services established by law'. The provisions of Section 215 (4) are completely at odds with Section 193 of the constitution which sets out the duties of the State Governor which include 'determining the general direction of the policies of the Government of the State' Section 193 (2) (b). The general direction of the State Government policies with respect to Security, Law Enforcement and Police powers are severely curtailed by Section 215 (4). In a truly federal state in which power is divided between a central authority and constituent political units (in our case, the states) the Governor should have superintending authority of the Commissioner of Police. Herein lies one of the most significant shortcomings and challenges of community policing at the grassroots level of the constituent units of Nigeria.
In practice as witnessed in events within the current fourth republic civilian dispensation - in the first instance where a State Governor was evicted from his official residence and removed from office by police officers acting obviously contrary to his directives nor under the instructions of the State Commissioner of police but under the command of the state's zone Assistant Inspector General who purportedly was acting under the instructions of the Inspector Police and in the second instance a State Governor directed that police officers falsely imprison or place under house arrest two former state Governors and a serving state Governor for a number of hours in the residence of one of the former state Governor (in his residence he was hosting them as guests), in that instance it was reported that the State Governor did not issue the directive to the State Commissioner of Police but sought the directive from the Inspector General. The points in issue are that whatever constitutional guarantees there are for the Governor of state with respect to control of the police contingent in his state it is somewhat limited, qualified, constrained and subject to the dictates of State Commissioner of Police, Inspector General, the President and a minister acting under the authority of the president and not in accordance with the holders of such offices acting in good faith or in the public interest.
A comparative analysis in other countries such as the United States of America, Federal Republic of Germany and Australia operating a Federal system of government reveals that the constituent political units are empowered by their respective constitutions to establish state law enforcement agencies. In the United States the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution provides for 'powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or the people'. The powers not delegated to the United States Federal Government includes the establishment of State law enforcement agencies, Federal Law Enforcement agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) being agencies of Federal Departments in the cases mentioned the Department of Justice. In fact the courts in the United States have consistently maintained that this amendment is explicit in limiting the Federal Government only to the powers it is granted in the constitution, which excludes state policing powers.
The Constitution of Germany the Germany's Basic Law states in Article 73 item 10 states inter-alia, 'the Federation has the exclusive power to legislate on…cooperation of the Federation and the Laender (Laender or Land being the states/regions – emphasis mine) in matters of
(a) criminal police, (b) protection of the free democratic basic order, of the existence and the security of the Federation or a Land (protection of the constitution) and
(c) protection against activities in the federal territory which, through the use of force or actions in preparation for the use of force, endanger the foreign interests of the Federal Republic of Germany, as well as the establishment of a Federal Criminal Police Office and the international control of crime'. It is interesting to note that nothing in the exclusive power of the Federal Government of Germany precludes the Land authorities from establishing and maintaining their own forces. In fact Article 35 of the German Basic states that all Federal and Land authorities render each other mutual legal and administrative assistance. In practice there is mutual cooperation and assistance between the Federal Police and the State Police forces because the German's basic law does not place the powers or authority of the Police in the hands of individuals but in the Bundesrat (its Federal Parliament and State Parliaments).
The Australian Constitution established the Commonwealth of Australia in which 'the legislative power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in a Federal Parliament'. The Australian Constitution outlines a range of powers and responsibilities of the Federal Parliament particularly in Section 51. The powers not stated in this section are known as residual powers, which reside with the States. This division of powers between the central and State governments is at the heart of its Federal system including separate State Constitutions, Parliament and Government. Each state in Australia has its own police force, which is under the control of the States. The Australian Federal Police which was a recent creation enforces Commonwealth criminal law, and protects Commonwealth and national interests from crime in Australia and overseas. It is also Australia's international law enforcement and policing representative, and the chief source of advice to the Australian Government on policing issues.
In a modern federal state and with the delays in responding to directives in times of emergency, natural disasters, our poor infrastructure and communications facilities particularly in isolated and remote areas it is adverse to the principles of Federalism that states being constituents units of Federation should be heavily reliant on the central authority in matters which affect the public safety, security, law, order and welfare of its citizenry. The powers of constituent states/regions in Australia, United States and Germany as can be seen is in direct contrast to Sections 4 and 214 of the Nigerian Constitution where police powers are exclusive to the Federal Government of Nigeria. The principle of Federalism unites separate political entities/states within a single national system, but allows each political entity/state to retain its independence. Federalism ensures that government remains close to the people as the constituent units are more in tune with the daily needs and aspirations of the people. In addition Federalism encourages the development of the nation in a decentralised and regional manner and allows for unique and innovative methods for tackling social, economic and political problems. However it can be inferred that whilst in theory the states of Nigeria are independent units of the Federation in line with the principles of Federalism what obtains in practice when compared to the aforementioned Federal countries is totally at odds with the spirit of a truly Federal state. In essence a single Police Force is not and cannot be said to be compatible with principles of Federalism, which by its very nature devolves more powers to its constituent units. The learned Professor Ben Nwabueze in his book A Constitutional History of Nigeria opines that, 'a strict application of the federal principle would also have required a separate police force for each government for the enforcement of its laws and maintenance of order. However the demand for the regionalisation of the police was refused by the British'. So it can be said that a single force is one of the vestiges of colonialism and our colonial masters approach to such issues that one cap fits all. That we have continued with this approach to Federalism is a clear departure from one of the core principles of Federalism because of the over concentration of power in the centre to the detriment of the constituent states.
The International NGO, the Crisis Group in its 'Nigeria's Faltering Federal Experiment' report of October 2006 surmised that, 'The lack of democratic space and the poverty of public discourse, compounded by security sector shortcomings, are manifestations of the failing federal experiment'. The Group further states that, 'the constitutional designation of all police as federal, without state or local counterparts, is controversial. Little democratic space exists for the public to grapple with the complicated issue of balancing governmental power with governmental accountability'.
Rhetoric and actions Whilst the rhetoric and strong support and commitment by the senior command of NPF at the Federal and state levels could constitute key strengths in adopting community policing what obtains in practiced in entirely different. Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fasola in his inauguration day address, 29 May 2007, recognises that government's primary duty, 'is to ensure security of lives and property for all residents' and that effective law enforcement and transparent justice are essential in sustaining democracy and developing a progressive society'. Similarly Lagos State Attorney General, Olasupo Sasore (SAN) in his Criminal Justice Reforms outlined in October 2008 and the State's Criminal Justice Administration Law 2007 has imposed new responsibilities on agencies including the police to ensure that the overall objective of an efficient, fair and speedy administration of criminal justice is achieved.
The NPF at the Federal level states on its website http://www.nigeriapolice.org that Community Policing is 'to focus on improving the public perception and image of the Force', 'empower Field Officers operationally by devolution of powers'. Furthermore NPF recognises the, 'fact that incidents of crime are still high in our midst…., the pursuit of community policing would be further re-invigorated and sustained'. NPF identifies public partnership as vital to community engagement to make policing more effective and efficient as a tool to preventing and detecting crime. This the NPF states is 'Police/Public synergy and that the involvement of communities in policing' would be enhanced.
NPF further acknowledges that its public image is at 'low ebb' as a consequence of its internal challenges of conduct and behaviour of its officers though emphasis is placed on a somewhat lack of public support, cooperation and engagement. The strategy of the NPF led Police Community Relation Committees to increase the synergy of the community with policing is to all intents and purposes an endemic failure. It is respectfully submitted that within its present structure there is currently no accountability of the NPF by the community and a top down approach to scrutiny, community engagement is lop sided and not fit for purpose.
Absence of quantifiable data The weaknesses includes the lack of community engagement designated staff in the Police at all tiers of government at local, state and federal levels coupled with an absence of adequate resources by government. There is a dearth of relevant crime statistics and if any at all, poorly documented evidence of community engagement. Obi N.I. Ebbe in the Nigeria section of the World Fact book of Criminal Justice Systems, UNODC Nigeria Country profile http://www.unodc.org/nigeria/en/social_context.html and the Library of Congress – Federal Research Division Country Profile: Nigeria, July 2008 concur that crime data is unreliable, grossly understated and in some cases unavailable for certain classes of crime. Data on Street, property crimes and crimes against the persons including homicide, sexual offences, and serious bodily assaults are also not available at state and local levels. This presents huge and enormous challenges for measuring policing performance, preventing and detecting crimes for a police service numbering 371,800 officers as of June 2007 (Library of Congress – Federal Research Division Country Profile: Nigeria, July 2008). There is a strong correlation between police force size and reported crime level and countries with the best-staffed police enjoying the lowest levels of violent crime. The correlation is even stronger if more serious crimes such as murder are weighed more heavily. For example, England and Wales have few police relative to population (272 per 100,000) and one of the highest crime rates in the European Union (10.4 serious crimes per 100,000). Italy has about twice as many police per capita and about half as much serious crime (The Rule of Law in Independent Kosovo International Crisis Group Europe Report N°204 – 19 May 2010). Nigerian policing levels are significantly low and should be increased to reflect the UNODC standard. Furthermore in Nigeria there are no readily visible key performance indicators to assist and evaluate the community engagement in policing. Similarly there are no voluntary and statutory mechanisms to effectively engage with victims and witnesses of crime. The police community forums are moribund or ineffectual to engage with key civil society groups.
These present opportunities to improve performance on policing assessment and raising the profile of the police service at community grassroots level. Increasing participation by the community would improve witness attendance at court and recognise the need to care for victims and witnesses. It would also encourage the development of key relationships with a number of key priority groups. The threats include loss of public confidence in the police service and the rigid and dogmatic application of statutory legislative provisions in respect of community engagement in the accountability of grassroots policing.
Community engagement Community engagement of grassroots policing involves joint working and cross partnership, in close collaboration at state levels through the State Security Council whose members includes the State Police Commissioner replicated across the local government areas and the input of the organised private sector, trade unions and associations, representative citizens of communities, CJS agencies in concerted action through a Police Community Forum. This is what the UNODC defines as the establishment of government structures and what is practised in successful community policing models in United Kingdom (UK) and countries of Western Europe. These consists of establishing centres or focal points with expertise and resources; crime prevention plan with clear priorities and targets; linkages and coordination between relevant government and agencies or departments; and seeking the active participation of the public in crime prevention by informing it of the need for and means of action and its role.
Effective policing and the accountability of the community engaging with state institutions is a key measure in empowering the citizenry at the grassroots level and developing partnership in improving the quality of life and ensuring safety, security is sustained in society. It is widely acknowledged that society's sustainable development is hindered by crime caused by obsolete and poor policing models. The UNODC Guidelines for the Prevention of Crime states that,' there is clear evidence that well-planned crime prevention promotes community safety and contributes to the sustainable development of countries. Enhances the quality of life of all citizens. It has long-term benefits in terms of reducing the costs associated with the formal criminal justice system' (The UNODC, 2006 Compendium of United Nations standards and norms in crime prevention, New York 2006). Community engagement in grassroots policing accountability provides a holistic approach to modern policing techniques and methodologies through embedding local community structures to policing.
Tangible benefits This is targeted to achieve short, medium and long terms. Firstly, a demonstration of that the police leadership is engaging the community at all the state tiers of government at grassroots/local government and state levels.
Secondly to identify the range of community engagement in place, evaluate its activities and feedback to community groups being engaged.
Thirdly the engagement of the community results in tangible improvements in policing operational delivery at the grassroots.
The model in use in the UK, which mirrors the UNODC Model, provides a successful approach in this regard. This model through training and capacity-building through supporting state and Federal further and higher educational bodies to provide courses in collaboration with experts including Nigerians working in diaspora in fields of law and criminal justice, promoting the capacity of communities to develop and respond to needs of grassroots policing.
Crime prevention should be used to enhance knowledge of community partnerships engaging through clear and transparent roles. High visibility community beat policing, using officers walking not driving to patrol in neighbourhoods to reassure communities' safety, security and crime free. The government should ensure that it creates an enabling environment of partnerships at different levels and across sectors. Furthermore policing leaders should inform and consult the community on crime prevention strategies.
The government at all levels in conjunction with other funding bodies should aim to achieve sustainability of demonstrably effective crime prevention programmes and initiatives including strong participation and involvement of the community.
In developing the knowledge base methodology, government and civil society should facilitate crime prevention by providing the information necessary for communities to address crime problems, supporting the generation of useful and practically applicable knowledge that is scientifically reliable and valid through verifiable and accurate crime data gathering. The development of data systems capturing data at local government level to manage crime prevention more effectively through surveys of the general public, victims and witnesses of crime. The thematic analysis of crime problems, their causes, risk factors and consequences, in particular at the local level through clustering, highlighting and monitoring targeted high priority crimes. There should be the process of sharing of knowledge between relevant parties and applying this in replicating new initiatives and being proactive in envisaging the problems of crime and its prevention.
Agenda for Legislative changes and structural reform
A raft of legislative changes are required to ensure that policing in Nigeria is in tune with modern policing concepts of the 21st century including the need to establish a statutory body charged with investigating police officers complaints of misconduct, abuse of office and human rights similar to the UK's Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) reporting directly and superintended by the National Assembly at Federal level and the State Houses of Assembly at state levels. There should also be similar reporting structure within the states for the body to report to the relevant local councils. This body should work in conjunction with the Human Rights Commission where there have been violations of Chapter IV Fundamental Rights provisions of CFRN 1999. To avoid an overlap and duplicity of functions this investigations commission should also be statutorily responsible for the other ancillary enforcement agencies including SSS, NAFDAC, EFCC, FRSC, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Immigration Service and the Department of Customs and Excise.
The functions of the present Police Service Commission (PSC) which to put bluntly has been an abject failure should be limited to recruitment, appointment and selection of officers of the service.
Furthermore the powers of the IGF to issue unconstitutional directives and orders including its controversial Force Order 237 the use of lethal force in apprehending suspects should be curtailed and subject to intervention of the courts. Operational methods of the NPF should conform to the provisions of CFRN 1999 and where these conflict with the law then such provisions should be void as to their inconsistency per the provisions of Section 1 (3) of CFRN 'If any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution, this Constitution shall prevail, and that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void'. The oversight and scrutiny powers of the legislative bodies committees responsible for policing and ancillary matters should be used effectively in ensuring that the command responsibility of the NPF as well as other statutory bodies responsible for policing are accountable and subject to the laws of the land. The composition of these commissions should be based strictly on merit, not to ruling party apparatchiks and should be a reflection of distinguished experts from a cross section of society.
Criminal Force Torture, Abuse, and Extra judicial Killings is the title of the recent 134 page report by the Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN) and the Open Society Justice Initiative Criminal Justice New York, USA
http://www.soros.org/initiatives/justice/focus/criminal_justice/articles_publications/publications/nigeria-police-abuse-report-20100519 makes for bitter but truthful reading with facts that are indeed very hard to rebut. To state the contrary by the police command and the government is to entirely miss the point. If we continue with this attitude we will never lessons from our failures. Without sounding very much like a broken record, failing to plan is planning to fail. Hence I suggest that its recommendations should be adopted carte blanche by the government and made essential reading for officers of the NPF, and Criminal Justice experts in Nigeria.
The government should without delay ensure that salary and other emoluments of Police personnel are raised to be at par with that of other forces in Nigeria. In addition it should provide benefits of housing, educational subsidies and health benefits for dependants of serving officers. It should also have in place a benevolent fund for officers who die in active service and a generous pensions scheme for who retire from service.
The government should provide increased funding in equipping officers with renewed emphasis on modern policing techniques including training on forensic science, psychology and the use of DNA and Ballistics techniques.
Nigerian Experts in diaspora are often accused of not being in touch with reality but in the case of their areas of expertise this accusation often lacks merit. To build the capacity and effectiveness of Policing in Nigeria the government should adopt the concepts proposed. This coupled with the encouragement of technical assistance from capable and seasoned Nigerians professionals in the fields of Policing and Criminal Justice through tenures of secondment from where they currently serve would ensure that their knowledge and expertise in policing takes the police in Nigeria to new heights of excellence and service.
*Omoba Oladele Osinuga Esq. an International Criminal Lawyer works in the Mission of a leading International Governmental Organisation in Europe writes from Dagenham Essex UK.
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