Policing The Federating States Of Nigeria; A Critique Of The Law And Policies Involved

Project and Seminar Material for Law

Policing The Federating States Of Nigeria; A Critique Of The Law And Policies Involved


The internal security of lives and property in Nigeria is the paramount duty of designated security agencies such as the Nigeria Police Force. Policing can therefore be viewed as the provision of security and the maintenance of peace. To secure a large Federation of Nigeria with about 170 million population and 36 States and Federal Capital Territory of Abuja obviously will not be an easy task. The security agencies are therefore encumbered with enormous threats to national security and other factors which affect effective and efficient performance of maintaining the peace and securing lives and property. There have been clamor recently for state policing in order for the police force to be more efficient. This is without its own flaws.

The pertinent question to ask at this stage will be:

  1. What is the concept and scope of state policing in Nigeria?
  2. What is the constitutional and statutory structure and functions of the Nigeria Police Force?
  3. What are the challenges of national security faced by the Nigerian state?
  4. What are the factors that militate against policing in the maintenance of national security?
  5. What are the laws and policies governing state policing?
  6. How will policing of the federating states help in solving the problems faced by the Nigeria Police Force?

A critical review of the extant law and policies on policing the Federation of Nigeria by this researcher looked at the adequacy or otherwise of the law and policies in place and the extent it has helped the security agencies to carry out the mandate of securing the federation. The study also looked at the call from some quarters for state police, its relevance and implications, its advantages and disadvantages. Based on the critical review, the researcher pointed out areas of law and policies that require improvement and recommended the way forward for better policing of the Federation of Nigeria.

Chapter One


It is hard to underscore much about the very early history of the police. Policing, maintaining order and dealing with lawbreakers had always been a private matter. Citizens were responsible for protecting themselves and maintaining an orderly society. Uniformed and organised police departments as we think of them today were rare. In fact, modern style police department began in the 19th century in England, and subsequently extended to Nigeria. The pre-colonial societies share a number of features in their social organisation regardless of whether they are politically centralised or decentralised although they share certain common attitudes and values in their social relations regardless of societal type. The societies share certain core beliefs and cosmological practices. The observable unities within diversities and vast linguistic and ethnic pluralism have been articulated into an African culture, African religion, African philosophy, negritude, African socialism, African personality, etc. The pre-colonial societies also relied on a number of other secular and supernatural agencies that monitor social behaviour and impose sanctions against deviation. The following groups were characteristically used in the detection, resolution, and punishment of offences: Youth, Umuada, the Masquerade, etc.

1.1 Background Of Study

Policing has always been a necessity in all societies for the preservation of order, safety, and social relations. There are several accounts of the evolution of the Police Force in Nigeria. From a classical point of view, it can however be observed that in medieval period, prevention, protection and control of crimes and other social vices was the primary responsibility of every adult male in the prevalent community. Nigeria’s police history can be attributed to the need by the British colonial power to facilitate colonial rule in the Northern and Southern protectorates. A security structure was built in order to aid the enforcement of laws and maintenance of order in the protectorates and the Colony of Lagos. The emergence of the Nigerian State as an entity with vast powers and authorities basically for the protection and peaceful co- existence amongst her heterogeneous groups led to the creation of security departments and agencies. The security personnel were put in place to control the use of violence by other groups and have monopoly over the means of legitimate violence in the society.

In Nigeria, the Constitution established the Nigeria Police Force with powers and duties as may be conferred on them by law. The government at the centre has exclusive control of the Police Force as they form part of the executive arm of government subject to laws made by the legislative arm to delimit their powers and provide for their duties. The police therefore has a vital role to play in a democratic state like Nigeria.

There are however several activities by activist groups and insurgents which tend to undermine national security and the role of the police in all of this. On the other hand, the Police Force is faced with diverse maintenance factors which inhibit the due performance of its duty as the protector of the people especially with recent uprisings around the country which threaten national security.

The clamour for state police is also without its limitations. Laws are yet to be put in place and policies formulated to meet the demand for adequate security in the federating states to curb acts of insurgents and extremists which are viewed as threat to national security.

1.2 Statement Of Problem

As a member of the armed services, the Nigerian Police Force is concerned with the prevention and detection of crime, the preservation of law and order, the protection of life and property inter alia, but it is no gainsay that the people who they are supposed to protect has lost faith in their ability to perform their statutory and moral duties. Successive governments have tried several police reforms which have not actually abated the situations on grounds. Scholars and jurists have carried out researches and recommendations were made in order to enhance better performance of the Nigeria Police Force, yet, these problems persist. This lays credence to the clamour for state policing and adequate funding of security agencies. The suggestion for state policing is however, without its advantages and disadvantages. There is also the challenge of whether it is attainable in Nigeria, if it is, how can it be achieved? Fortunately, this researcher is examining the laws and policies governing policing in the federating states of Nigeria in order to identify the relevance, implications and possibilities of states’ Police in Nigeria and recommend it as a panacea out of these shortfalls of the Nigeria Police Force.

1.3 Research Questions

Some of the research questions, which will be asked in this research, are:

  1. What is the concept and scope of state policing in Nigeria?
  2. What is the constitutional and statutory structure and functions of the Nigeria Police Force?
  3. What are the challenges of national security faced by the Nigerian state?
  4. What are the factors that militate against policing in the maintenance of national security?
  5. What are the laws and policies governing state policing?
  6. How will policing of the federating states help in solving the problems faced by the Nigeria Police Force?

1.4 Aims And Objectives

The aim of this research is to have an analytical overview of policing in Nigeria with the intent of examining the benefits of state policing.

The objectives of this research will include:

  1. To have a succinct knowledge on the concept and scope of state policing in Nigeria.
  2. To understand the constitutional and statutory structure and functions of the Nigeria Police Force.
  3. To identify the challenges of national security faced by Nigeria.
  4. To examine the factors that militate against policing in the maintenance of national security.
  5. To be abreast with the laws and policies governing state policing.
  6. To critically analyse how policing of the federating states will help in solving the problems faced by the Nigeria Police Force.

1.5 Research Methods

The doctrinal research method will be used mostly in this research. The researcher would briefly apply the comparative method in other to evaluate Nigeria’s framework with that of some civilized nations.

1.6 Significance Of The Study

This research would be beneficial to different categories of persons. The data gathered from this research will be useful to the Nigerian judicial system in order to highlight challenges of National security and factors militating against effective performance by the Nigeria Police Force and give judgements having these flaws in mind.
The results of this research will also be useful to the legislative arm in order to enlighten them further on the need for state policing and to the executive arm of government too for prompt implementation of recommended police reforms from this research in order to enhance the performance of the Nigeria Police Force.

Furthermore, this research will be a guide to the teaching of the public on the need for state police as a panacea to solve the problems in the Nigeria Police Force and also serve as a resource base for further studies.

1.7 Limitations And Scope Of Study

The scope of this research will cover the entire basic subject matters on State policing and the Nigerian Police Force. It will also cover the solutions that can be used to solve the problems emanating from encumbrances on the Nigerian Police Force.

The researcher is faced with some limitations and these are:

Time Constraint:

There is insufficient time as the researcher is combining this project with academic works, which sometimes overlap.

Accessibility of Research Materials:

Since this area of law is novel in the Nigerian legal system, it is very difficult to source for materials and statutory provisions and therefore, the researcher is left with primarily, works downloaded from the internet and few works from learned scholars and jurists on state police.

1.8 Definition Of Terms

1.8.1 Policing

Policing means process of maintaining order and enforcing of law. The police is one of the security agencies in charge of performing this duty. The Nigeria Police Force is one of the various agencies in charge of these duties.

1.8.2 State Police

State police is form of decentralised policing in which the maintenance of order and enforcing laws are under the control and supervision of the Governor of that state. It is widely practices in developed countries with the Central government having jurisdiction in external affairs and supervisory jurisdiction.

1.8.3 National Security

National security is a concept that a government, along with its parliaments, should protect the state and its citizens against all kind of “national” crises through a variety of power projections, such as political power, diplomacy, economic power, military might, and so on.

Chapter Five

Conclusion And Recommendations

5.1 Conclusion

The rise of global insecurity, has called to question the centralisation of policing in the Nigeria and clamour for the need to decentralise the force, to ensure that states establish, maintain and control their police formations. Antecedent to this was the idea of community policing, based on the notion of cooperation between police officers and private citizens in communities to grapple with crimes and sundry social vices. Central to the idea is the neighbourhood principle that presupposes that everyone in the vicinity knows each other, thereby making it easy to monitor deviants in the community. Historically, Nigeria used to be one of the relatively secure nations in the West African sub-region. Unfortunately, the nation has suddenly metamorphosed into an abode of serial bombings, hostage taking, kidnapping, armed robbery, cold-blooded murders and ethno-religious conflicts traceable to militant groups with conflicting political and religious ideological leanings. Recently, political tensions are compounded by the reality that although the Nigerian economy has recorded some growth since 1999, this wealth has not been seen or felt by the majority of Nigerians. Nearly three-quarters of the populace live on less than one dollar a day in a country that has earned oil revenues (at least USD 280 billion) over three decades, including the past few years of high oil prices. Ethnic tensions, religious differences, limited economic opportunities, and numerous socio-political grievances are all fuelling the unrest in Nigeria and contributing to flashpoints of violence. Indeed many political analysts are of the opinion that Nigeria is fast degenerating into the state of nature where life is short, nasty, and brutish and living has become an issue of survival of the fittest. Anarchy is closing in while law and order are losing their sting. Hoodlums, criminals, and terrorists have virtually taken over the nation. Most Nigerians now sleep with one eye open as those who are lucky to escape burglars are kept awake all night by booming sounds of gunshots or dins of bomb explosions by those too powerful to be stopped. Some of these groups are the Niger-Delta militants, campus cults, armed robbers and kidnappers, and most recently the Boko Haram insurgent group.

The resultant effect has been the destruction of valuable government facilities, loss of lives and property, and an increase in budgetary appropriation and expenditure on security. This portends devastating consequences for sustainable economic development in the country. The Federal government has continued to appropriate huge funds for defence and internal security in the national budget; a trend that has denied sectors like the education, health, agriculture and infrastructural the needed attention and capital. In all these, the government has not addressed the fundamental immediate and remote causes of these manifestations. All that have dominated the government’s security policy have been redeployment of police top brass and other security personnel without much attention to the issues of political/religious intolerance, high unemployment, escalating impoverishment and the population’s despondency, etc. that have become unbearable to ordinary Nigerians.

This research has exposed the urgent need to revisit the current skewed centralized policing arrangement. Daily, cogent reasons emerge that give verve to the importance of restructuring the existing system so that constitutional powers, resources and responsibilities of policing are devolved to the state levels. From many instances so far, the NPF has been powerless or at best has demurred in the handling of civil/religious crises in Nigeria due to some militating factors beyond their control. In the Niger Delta for example, the NPF could not cope with the intransigence of the militants, who practically took over some states, including the creeks, where they set up military camps, leading to the deployment of the Joint Task Force (JTF) to keep the peace. In the Jos Crisis, the NPF also failed and JTF had to come to the rescue. In the north east the NPF failed to stem the rising steam of Boko-Haram until the JTF intervened. Currently, many villages and communities pay monthly salaries or contributions to vigilante groups for communal security even while the current police formation exists. The answer to these failures is the establishment of state police, which will be better placed to undertake quick response to local crises.

5.2 Recommendations

This research work therefore proposes that a transitional scheme that will enable it materialize be put in place as a matter of urgency. To effectively ensure the security of lives and properties the following recommendations are also proffered;

  1. There is need to amend the provision of section 215(3) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria. These provisions relate to the powers of the Federal Government regarding the control of the police relative to the state governments. These provisions have been a source of controversy as well as conflict between the governors and the federal police authority. The provisions of section 215(4) of the constitution appear to undermine the powers and integrity of the state governor relative to the management of the police. Thus, it is recommended that the provision be amended to confer on the state governors being the chief security officers for their respective states power to be able to give directive to the Nigeria police for the contingent in their states and such directives to be promptly carried out without seeking approval from either the president or ministers.
  2. The Federal Government of Nigeria should establish the American-styled or Indian-styled police structure and oversight offices in the 36 states to maintain Federal laws and complement the activities and functions of the state police. There should also be a Federal Criminal Investigation Branch (FCIB) established at the federal, and State Criminal Investigation Branch (SCIB) at the state level. While FCIB are to be responsible for national/international criminal investigations, the presence of SCIB will ensure that ethnic sentiments do not come to play in the dispensation of justice, especially where non indigenes are concerned in the states.
  3. Structures of checks, balances and clear-cut disciplinary measures which insulate the state police officers from partisan politics and control by political office holders should be put in place to encourage efficiency and effectiveness.
  4. A Police Regulatory Board (PRB) should be put in place to regulate and standardize police training so that a minimum national standard is maintained throughout the state police forces. The PRB should be established at the federal level to control all training schools in order to equip highly training security agents and give them at least, a good, educational background.
  5. To get the effective performance of police functions in Nigeria, corruption must be exposed and sanctioned appropriately and those who live above board should be rewarded in order to enhance the integrity of the force. To deal with corruption in the NPF, the government should dismantle road blocks and dismiss police officers caught in corrupt acts.
  6. Agencies such as the EFCC, ICPC, FRSC, NAPTIP and NDLEA duplicate police functions. This is inimical to the effectiveness of NPF because they not only deprive the NPF of the already scarce material resources, but also deplete its pool of human resources. This should be discouraged and agencies performing similar functions merged for effectiveness or in the alternative, there should be cooperation amongst them to better enhance our security system.
  7. The training curriculum of the police should be reviewed to include new and all encompassing vistas of policing such as crime scene management, forensics, human rights, police prosecution, professionalism based on ethics and values, election policing, information technology and public order policing and so on. Each area of training should be developed with specifics based on separate curricula manuals and levels of specialization or degrees of complexity.
  8. Recruitment exercises should be transparent, rigorous and include psychological tests for profiling and determining the mental stability of recruits. Police officers must meet set standards of physical fitness, with regular fitness tests. To ensure this, every police station should have access to a fully equipped gymnasium.
  9. All members of the police force should be given public relations training in order to be better equipped to communicate and relate with members of the public in ways that uphold human dignity while preserving police authority.
  10. The unsanitary conditions that pervade the environments of police stations, unhealthy and untidy appearance of police officers, and the filthy and dilapidated police barracks have created a deep contempt for the police in the minds of the public. Senior officers within the stations should carry out regular inspections, with sanctions for dirty and unkempt premises and offices. Police officers should be adequately remunerated and motivated to reduce the low self-esteem, aggression and corruption that erode the junior and some senior ranks.

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