The Nigerian Police And Crime Management In Nigeria
This study examines the ways in which police authorities manage their personnel, as well as the factors militating against police authorities in managing their personnel for effective crime control and prevention in Nigeria. The study used both quantitative and qualitative designs to attempt to identify the criteria used in posting police officers. Data were obtained through questionnaires from 360 randomly selected respondents complemented by 15 in-depth interviews (IDI) undertaken in three geo-political regions in Nigeria namely: southeast, southwest and north central. The three geo- political regions were purposively chosen based on the incidences of armed robbery recorded in each. The study also used secondary data sourced from the National Bureau of Statistics and the Nigeria Police Force as reference materials. Simple percentages and chi-squared tests were employed to analyse the collected data. The qualitative data were content analysed. The findings revealed that factors such as crime rate, population size, industrial development and land mass or political interference were not clearly defined criteria used in the posting of personnel. The number of police in a region does not equate to more or less crime; effective crime control and prevention depend on proper and effective utilization, as well as management, of police personnel. Police authorities are culpable of mismanagement of police personnel for personal gain to the detriment of citizens; most states are under-policed and under-staffed. This study also found that factors militating against the effective utilization and management of police personnel include: corruption, political interference, ethno-religious consideration, lack of funds and lack of facilities. Thus, the study recommends among other things, that the distribution of police personnel should be anchored to the population size, industrialization and volume of criminality in a particular place; there should be a gross reduction in the numbers of personnel attached to political officials, whereas those attached to individuals who are not entitled to personal police protection must be withdrawn and efforts made to recruit more people into the police force.
1.1 Background to the Study
There can be no socio-economic development in any nation without domestic peace, law and order. Therefore, the pri- mary task of the police in internal security is one of crime control and prevention, as well as the maintenance of law and order (Okiro, 2008). A police force is an agency of government given responsibility for maintaining public order and security. It is just one aspect of the criminal justice system, but its unique responsibility makes it indispensable; without the police, the others – courts and prisons– are inadequate or incapacitated. The unique position ofthe police places them closest to the populace as the chief enforcer of all government rules and regulations. However, ‘in an attempt to fight crime in Nigeria, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has demonstrated clearly that it is ineffective and inefficient in maintaining law and order’ (Iwarimie- Jaja, 2006, cited in Ebeniro, 2011: 31).
This apparent in efficiency and ineffectiveness is aptly demonstrated in the way in which police personnel are managed in carrying out their crime control duties in Nigeria.
Members of the NPF have the legal authority and powers to apprehend offenders, to investigate crimes, to investigate and prosecute suspects, to grant bail to suspects pending completion of their investigations or court arraignment and some other duties, as stipulated in Section 19–26 of the Police Act. However, Alemika and Chukwuma (2004) observed that:
“Due to a combination of structural factors (political oppression and instability as well as economic exploitation, mass poverty, widespread corruption, etc.) and institutional inadequacies (poor quality of personnel, inadequate training, poor facilities, grossly inadequate remuneration and general conditions of service, and hostile police public relations), the country’s police force is ill-equipped to perform its function well and in compliance with the rule of law. Instead, what is evident is that the Nigerian police are highly and visibly subservient to the rich and powerful, even in the rendering of services (cited in Ebeniro, 2011: 32).”
According to Obasanjo (2005:17), ‘every society needs a strong and effective police force to maintain law and order, to promote peace and harmony and to secure lives and property’. As a result, Obasanjo (2005: 16) asserts that his administration will be committed to ‘ensuring the safety and welfare of the people as one of the fundamental prin- ciples of state policy, through a disciplined, well trained, properly equipped, responsible and people friendly police’. This was never achieved because the police continued to be involved in various acts of brutality, corruption, perversion of justice, the use of unorthodox investigation techniques, connivance with criminal elements and human rights abuses. The result was that the crime rate increased with greater intensity, pattern, dimension and dynamics that overwhelmed the police, thereby questioning the ability of the police to effectively control crime and manage their personnel for effective crime prevention in Nigeria.
The police have been criticized for their unfriendly atti- tudes and abuse of human rights (Karimu, 2014; Nwidag Okwendi, 2015; Odinkalu, 2005; Ugwuoke, 2010). This may negatively affect police performance and effec- tiveness in terms of crime control and prevention, because the police cannot do their job without information or clues from the public regarding criminal operations. This was the assertion of Olujinmi (2005: 19), who argued that ‘the tasks of crime prevention and detection as well as prosecution of offenders cannot be successfully performed without the cooperation of the public’. Olujinmi (2005: 19) argues fur- ther that ‘there is no doubt that the effectiveness of the police is directly proportional to the cooperation andsupport they enjoy from the community’. Community poli- cing cannot thrive if the public are completely excluded, intimidated, harassed and brutalized by the NPF. Managing police personnel for effective crime control is possible if the police understands the public it polices. This mutual understanding between the police and the public will go a long way to ensuring that police officers operate in an atmosphere that is free from fear and intimidation. The friendly attitude of the police towards the public ensures mutual cooperation that enable a free flow of information between the public and the police.
It is worthy of mention that, as of October 2008, police strength in Nigeria was 371,800 police officers for 160 million Nigerians, compared with the United Nations’ stated average 1 police officer for 400 civilians (1 Police officer to 400 civilian is the average (standard) recom- mended by the UN for proper and effective policing of citizens.) (Okiro, 2008). In February 2011 the then Inspec- tor General of Police, Mr Hafiz Ringim put the strength of the NPF at 337,000, saying that 107,700, of this number were ghost workers (non living individuals who are pre- sented as if they are living and actually working and col- lecting wages or individuals who are living but not working in an organization but someone else is collecting salaries on their behalf) (Daily Sun, 2011, February 8). This means that the force had a working strength of only 229,300 police officers. When juxtaposed with 314,362 officers given as the police working strength in 2007, there was a shortage of 85,062 police officers in 2011. It is absurd that between 2008 and 2011, the working strength of the police decreased by 85,062. What might have caused such short- fall? Either something is wrong with police management or the police are deliberately under-staffed, enabling criminals to operate while the police corruptly enrich them- selves by manipulating police manpower or receiving part of any criminal gains. When these conditions are con- sidered, we can only imagine that the type of insecurity experienced in Nigeria and the difficulty faced in policing the states effectively are due to manipulations by the police authority.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Extant studies on the management of police personnel for effective crime prevention have been carried out in Western and European countries (Bayley, 1994; Dawit, 1995; Giller, 1991; Mekonen, 2002; Swanson and Territo, 1983; Tesfa, 1976 ). Most of those who have studied police and crime management in Nigeria were more or less inter- ested in identifying several factors that militate against the effectiveness of the NPF in controlling crime such as: lack of professionalism, indiscipline, lack of manpower, lack of technological knowhow, poor salary, lack of quality train- ing, inadequate funding, lack of facilities, corruption and political interference (Igbinovia, 1982; Oyemwinmina and Aibieyi, 2016; Ugwuoke, 2010). Some researchers havelooked at the leadership of the NPF and their commitment to crime control (Nwidag and Okwendi, 2015), whereas others have focused on the police and crime control and prevention (Karimu, 2014; Karimu and Osunyikanmi, 2012; Okeieneme, 2010). However, none of these scholars dealt with the way in which police personnel are utilized for effective crime control and prevention in Nigeria, particularly as canvassed in this study.
Although acknowledging that con- temporary crime fighting or prevention goes far beyond the physical presence of police personnel and includes the mod- ern application of technological innovations and strategies, we emphasize that Nigeria as a whole lacks the utilization of modern technology in fighting crime. Hence, crime control and prevention in Nigeria are overly dependent on the phys- ical presence of police officers. It is this background that informs our interrogation of police management with regard to effective crime control in Nigeria.
1.3 Objective of the Study
The aim of this study is to
- Determine how police authorities manage their personnel with regard to crime control and prevention in Nigeria. The motive is to assess effectiveness in the utilization of police personnel for the advantage or disadvantage of citizens, and the criteria used when placing police officers in a place/state.
- The study also examines the consequences of effective and ineffective management of personnel on crime control and prevention,.
- The challenges militating against the efficient utilization of police personnel for effective crime control and prevention.
1.4 Research Questions
- How do the police authorities manage their personnel with regard to crime control and prevention?
- What are the consequences of effective and ineffective management of personnel on crime control and prevention?
- What are the challenges militating against the efficient utilization of police personnel for effective crime control and prevention.
1.5 Significance of the Study
The study will serve useful to the Nigeria Police force as the recommendations outlined in this study will be useful on a long-term. The study is an academic contribution. It will serve as a resource for further studies.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study is limited to the Nigeria police force. Findings, results and recommendations highlighted in this study may not be useful to other forces such as the Nigeria Army, Navy, Air-force or other para-military. This gap can be bridged by conducting further studies.
Conclusion and Recommendation
We have looked at police postings in line with the population of each state. We have also looked at the distribution of police personnel and police stations, as well as divisions. We found an uneven distribution of police personnel, police stations and posts in relation to population, crime rate and levels of industrial development. However, there seem to be no definite policy guidelines as to the distribution of police personnel. It is certain that the prevalence of crime and the population of an area did not have any important role in the distribution of police personnel. This is a large flaw in the management of police personnel for effective and efficient crime control in Nigeria.
More importantly, we cannot ascertain the standard that was used in the posting of police officers. We thus suggest that what- ever principle was used, the following should be considered:
- The nature of the state in terms of the intensity of criminal activity.
- The development of the state in terms of its urbanity.
- The migratory nature of the state in terms of its heterogeneous nature.
- The commercial nature of the state.
- The population of the state.
- The importance of the state to the The class of people that mostly live in the state.
- The operational manpower of the police.
Carrying out patrols, criminal investigation and traffic regulations comprise most of the essential modern operational policing activities of police personnel across the globe, and Nigeria is no exception. It is imperative that police management consider a reduction in the large numbers of police personnel attached to public office holders and private individuals, and those not engaged in essential duties in order to provide adequate security for the public. There is need to provide the police with adequate funds, while efforts must be put into place to ensure the efficient management and use of such funds. There should also be an internal control mechanism to monitor the use of police funds.
Finally, the police reform programme should be intensified to ensure that the police align themselves with the community and the people they police. If they are to earn public respect, the police should see citizens as customers who must be satisfied. The police should be aware of citizens’ fundamental human rights because this will boost the relationship between them and the public, thereby improving crime control and security.
In addition, the police must see all citizens as equal and, on the basis of this, ensure that all receive adequate and effective protection.
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