Role Of Lawyers And Police In Administration Of Justice
Crime has been a major subject of concern throughout human history. No society is free of crime and criminals. The Nigeria Police Force is an agency established by law to ensure preservation of public order and law enforcement as well as prevention and detection of crime. The police plays vital role in the administration of justice in any society. The police present the entry point into the criminal justice system either through reports from the public or its own investigation and surveillance. It is therefore a fact that an average citizen has contact with the police more than with any other agency for administration of criminal justice.
1.1 Background of the Study
The phenomenon, “crime” has been a major subject of private and public concern throughout human history. No society is free of crime. However, the question often asked is that even if crime is part of inevitable human behaviour, how much of it can a society tolerate? This question is linked to man’s natural instinct for survival, the ability to respond to any threat to his life and property. Crime poses such a threat, particularly in its violent form.
The recent upsurge in violent crimes in Nigeria has created enormous uncertainty in the security of lives and property of individuals and of social stability in general. The incidents of traditional crimes such as armed robbery, arson, drug trafficking and abuse, murder, kidnapping, rape, hired assassinations and ritual killings are examples of the most serious and violent crimes which have been on the increase in the recent past. Correspondingly, White Collar Crimes in the form of Advance Fee Fraud (popularly, known as 419), contract deals, embezzlement and mismanagement in both the public and private sectors are also on the increase. The aggregate of the traditional crimes mostly committed by the less privileged and white collar crimes mostly committed by the highly placed call for a change in the strategies for the prevention and control of crime in Nigeria,
The existing patterns in criminal activities show that criminals are getting more organized, sophisticated and brutal in the manner they carry out their dastardly acts, either in the way they physically attack individuals with dangerous weapons or the method they use in taking advantage of their official positions to steal and stash away millions of public funds in foreign and domestic accounts. Equally worrisome is the new dimension in organized criminal behaviour in Nigeria involving acts of terrorism and sabotage against individuals and public places. Recent incidents, in which some individual were stalked and eventually trapped in the volley of bullets from assault weapons, depict the viciousness of violent criminals. These acts are usually well-planned, orchestrated, syndicated and organized in the mafia-type fashion. In addition to these new patterns of violent crimes against persons, there is also the equally disturbing criminal behaviour against the Nigerian economy leading to the collapse of financial institutions and government parastatals. In short, we are witnessing the emergences of dangerous trends in the nation’s social and economic well-being.
Three bodies are responsible for the administration of criminal justice in Nigeria. These bodies are: the Courts, the Police and Prisons. This research focuses on the police functions in the administration of justice and the manner in which such functions are carried out.
The primary functions of the police are detection and prevention of crime as well as preservation of law and order. The police has constitutional powers of ensuring the prevalence of law and order and the preservation of public peace.
The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria confer on the police force powers and duties for effective oversight and accountability
Added to the above, is the seeming lopsidedness in recent times in the prosecution of criminal offences as it affects the privileged and less privileged members of the society. On a day to day basis in Nigeria, Magistrates and other inferior courts are inundated with minor cases of stealing, cheating, criminal breach of trust and traffic offences committed by Nigerians who in most cases belong to the less privileged class of the society. In fact, some months back, a Magistrate
Court sitting in Lagos attracted attention when she sentenced hundreds of Nigerians, some of whom under aged, to different terms of imprisonment without option of fine for minor traffic and environmental offences. On the contrary, the prosecution of most blue or white collar offences hardly attracted the same level of success or determined prosecution. The prosecutions of several persons alleged to have committed serious crimes of official corruption have dragged on for years without success.
Two factors seem responsible for the above situation – the overriding powers of the president and state governors in the appointment and removal of Lawyers and the refusal of the judiciary in Nigeria to invoke the power of judicial review on the exercise of powers by the Lawyers on the ground that the powers are absolute and subject to no judicial review what so ever.5.
The above background facts therefore, motivated the desire of writing this dissertation. The dissertation looked at the aforementioned problems and offered suggestions towards solving the same and achieving a better administration of criminal justice in Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The Nigeria Police is saddled with the responsibility of maintenance of law and order. It also protects, prevents and investigates criminal activities. In the discharge of these duties, the force has over the years failed. This is by virtue of certain inherent problems and challenges that has militated the force in its application of its powers as have been statutorily provided.
Some of these problems are:
- The abuse of human rights, collection of bribes, corruption in the force, flagrant shooting of suspects and fellow policemen, illiteracy and incompetence of certain police officers to the mounting of illegal road blocks.
- Lack of respect for fundamental human rights of every citizen in the discharge of their duties. These rights and liberties take the forefront in the operation of the rule of law in all democracies of the world today. Sadly, even when the Nigerian Constitution of 1999, reserves an entire chapter (the famous chapter iv) declaring and providing for the protection of these rights, the Police still continue to engage in their abuse from time to time.
- There is police lawlessness which begins with small irregularities or illegalities such as the disquieting features of committing crime of falsifying crime records against accused persons. These sorts of events, actions or inactions indulged in by policemen show an open disregard for the principles of the rules of law and civilized conduct which adversely affect police discipline and make mockery of the Nigeria Police force generally.
- There is also the problem of police extortion at road checkpoints, arbitrary arrest and detection, torture of detainees, administrative cover-ups are a few of the crimes committed by the police force in their pursuit for justice which they claim to uphold.
- Again, the Nigerian Police in the modern age seem to be handicapped in the face of current realities. It has been noticed that despite the teeming police personnel, the force is still bereft of manpower in certain quotas. There have been situations in which the police complain of shortage of staff when issues are reported to them.
- Another problem is the lack of scientific and technological equipment for detecting crimes by the police.
- The police are handicap on the following aspects: Shortage of manpower
- Inadequate transport facilities
- Lack of scientific equipments for detecting crime
1.3 Aims and Objectives
The aims and objectives of this research work are:
- To examine the role of the Nigeria Police and Lawyers in the administration of justice.
- To identify the inadequacies of the police in the discharge of their functions.
- )To proffer practical solutions for combating crimes in Nigeria.
The importance of this research work cannot be over emphasized. It analyses the role of Police in the Administration of Justice in Nigeria in order to give the public clearer views on police administration. Also, the research is necessitated to show case the indiscriminate violations of human rights by the police and the gross increase of crime rate in the country which often leaves much to be desired.
With the above issues, this research will serve as a viable source of information to all and sundry. First, it will benefit the police, those engaged in the administration of justice, law enforcement agencies and the court. It will also provide relevant suggestions on how best to curb the increase of crimes; it is also of immense benefit to policy makers, government officials, academicians, students and anyone interested in the peaceful co-existence of the Nigerian populace.
1.5 Scope of the Research
This research is limited to the Role Of Lawyers And Police In Administration Of Justice in the administration of justice. It will also look into the issues of crimes prevention and mechanisms for control crimes in Nigeria. But, reference shall be made to the former colonial master (United Kingdom) who introduces police administration in Nigeria. Analysis was also made to other police organization to enhance more knowledge on this area.
1.6 Research Methodology
The methodology employed in this research is doctrinal. That is, both the primary and secondary sources shall be employed such as the examination of statutes, Case laws, law reports, textbooks by renounced scholars. Other library materials such as journals, newspapers had been made reference to. Of course, internet sources were considered for current trends on crime detection and prevention. Encyclopedias, thesaurus and police diaries have been made reference to.
1.7 Literature Review
This work examines an institution of great historical and political interest and significance. Together with the judiciary, civil services and the military, the police constitute one of the key institutions of a modern state. In particular, the origins, development and role of the police have not only prevented, detected and crime, they have also maintained law and order, preserved public safety and generally buttressed the existing governments, which were at first British and later Nigerian.
Alcock, R.N. in his book, “Police Instruction Book” discussed very fundamental issues on crime prevention and detection. His work is indepth on the role of police in the prevention of crime, but failed to address to the minute detail of issues of enforcement of law. Also, his work, though relevant for this research, it is not in tune with contemporary issues as they obtain in Nigeria.
Adebayo M.A., while writing on the powers of Lawyers in the institution and conduct of criminal prosecution, observed that the powers of
Lawyers are too wide and subject to whimsical exploitation by the political class in Nigeria. He opined that as the Lawyers combines the office of the Chief Law Officer and Chief Legal adviser to the government of either the Federation or the State (which automatically makes him a member of the executive council) it will be very difficult for him to go against the will of his appointer in matters of personal interest to the appointer. This arrangement according to him is very dangerous to the administration of criminal justice in Nigeria since the powers of the Lawyers may be invoked by the executive to compromise criminal prosecution against their political supporters; whilst at the same time using the power to whimsical advantage in haunting political opponents with criminal prosecution. He therefore, suggested that as the powers of Lawyers is not reviewable by any court of law in Nigeria, “the provisions of section 174 and 211 of the Constitution should be amended to allow the court to have the power to review the exercise of the powers of Lawyers where it is found out to be grossly abused or where the exercise of such power will engender injustice to any member of the public.”
Conclusion, Findings and Recommendations
5.1 Suggestions and Recommendations
Consequently, the following suggestions and observations are made:
- 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 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.
- The selection and screening process for recruitment into the Nigerian police especially at the junior level and the curricula for the training of the police is narrow in scope and should be reviewed presently, the emphasis is more on physical excursive, drill and stamina. The content of the training is limited in subject such as sociology, psychology law, social relation and human rights. These inadequacies associated with selection, screening, testing and training adversely impact on discipline orientation, attitude, performance and conduct of the Nigerian police.
- In the course of this study, lack of awareness of the exact power and function of police and general ignorance of the importance of human rights education as well as observance of the rule of law has been implicated as a major fact that has affected the role of the police in the administration of justice in Nigeria. Hence, we recommend that police must be trained and educated in some basic concepts such as rule of law, human rights and limits of the powers of the police. In the part of the general public, there is need for awareness campaign or public enlightenment on the need to support the police in the administration of justice. Once these have been put in place, the public will truly be the police as a friend and will collaborate effectively to fight crimes in Nigeria.
- There is the need to establish Police Board at the local and state levels to replace the moribund and weak police community service committee. The new board once established, will promote partnership communication and cooperation between the community and the police ion problem identification, find problem solving. They should monitor police conduct, and performance as well as public complaints against police malpractices, including production of quarterly and annual repot for the Inspector-general of police, police service commission and the Nigerian police council presently, characterized by deep suspicion and sometimes violence.
- The police should be properly equipped with modern and sophisticated equipment. Government must provide good condition of service to the police, this include recruitment of adequate number of policemen, attractive salary and accommodation. This will improve the image of the police and thereby boosting their morale.
- It is axiomatic that achieving an ideal Nigerian police force can indeed be challenging, particularly that enormous resource is required from the government which has other responsibilities. In this regard, it is recommended that government should ensure sustained political commitment for improving the Nigerian police. By sustained political commitment, government is required to show genuine concern on police problems by enacting workable laws and fully implements police policies to address and deal with the problems.
- It is also the recommendation of this research that all the security agencies in Nigeria particularly the police, the armed forces, state security service and so on must cooperate and complement other in the administration of justice in Nigeria. To facilitate this, a coordinating mechanism should be put in place that should
encourage sharing of security information, tips and intelligence. This mechanism will equally stamp out rivalry which presently is one feature amongst security agencies in Nigeria. Once this is achieved, law enforcement agencies in Nigeria rather than being reactive will become more preventive in their approach as obtainable in other advanced jurisdictions.
- Finally, improving the quality of the Nigerian police in the administration and provision of security cannot be resolved by proliferation of ad hoc committee, panels or task force, there is no alternative to putting in place a permanent mechanism as have been recommended herein to address the challenges of law enforcement and administration justice in Nigeria.
5.2 Concluding Remarks
It is axiomatic that the Nigeria Police are striving to maintain peace, order and good governance over the years, but they are seriously saddled with a lot of challenges. The government of the day is very much concern with the issues of security. The general publics are perturbed with lack of efficient maintenance of law and order and blame both the police and the government for not providing adequate security for the protection of lives and properties. Although the government are trying their best to satisfy these yearnings by embarking on several reforms of the Police Force but, it appears as if the problems are insurmountable. The way forward is for the Police, civil society and the government should put all hands on deck to address all matters of security because, the maintenance of law,
peace and order lies on everybody in the country.
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