The Police Nigeria needs

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By Emmanuel Onwubiko

The fundamental idea behind the coming into being of an organized human society is for the protection of their (humanity) lives and property.

Hitherto, man in his natural state was lawless, violent and primitively selfish but later found out that the only way to ensure self-preservation and inter-generational survival was to set up the community of people to be modeled after a society governed by law and order.

In many studies, historians have often made claims to the effect that the oldest profession in the human community is prostitution.

However, I differ from this over generalization in such a way that I am convinced that the policing institution should rank amongst the earliest organized professional careers in the human environment since security of lives informed the organization of a human society ab initio.  We will embark on a search of philosophical minds to justice the above conclusions.

Basically, the philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) took a great deal of time to research into human’s state of nature which for the specific purpose of affirming the primacy of law enforcement, would serve as our key reference point in this reflection.

On The State of Nature, Samuel Enoch Stumpf says that- Hobbes describes men; first of all, as they appear in what he calls the state of nature, which is the condition of men before there is any state or civil society.

In this state of nature Hobbes says all men are equal and equally have the right to whatever they consider necessary for their survival.

Equality here means simply that anyone is capable of hurting his neighbor and taking what he judges he needs for his own protection.

Differences in strength Hobbes recalled can in time be overcome and the weak can destroy the strong.

The “right of all to all” which prevails in the state of nature does not mean that one man has a right whereas others have corresponding duties, ‘ he recalled. 

Hear him: “The word right in the bare state of nature is a man’s freedom “to do what he would, and against whom he thought fit, and to possess, use and enjoy all that he would, or could get.” 

The driving force in man is the will to survive, and the psychological mood pervading all men is fear, the fear of death and particularly the fear of violent death, says Thomas Hobbes. 

“In the state of nature all men are relentlessly pursuing whatever acts they think will secure their safety. The picture one gets of this state of nature is of men moving against each other, bodies in motion, or the anarchic condition Hobbes called “the war of all against all.”

This Hobbesian affirmation on the fundamental position of the institution of law enforcement also finds support in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 (as amended) which is the supreme law of the nation state.

In section 14(2) (b) the grund norm affirms as follows: “The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”

With a view to give consequential effect to the aforementioned primary role of government, the constitution in section 214 brings into being the policing institution as follows: “(1) 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. (2) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution – (a) the Nigeria Police Force shall be organized and administered in accordance with such provisions as may be prescribed by an act of the National Assembly; (b) the members of the Nigeria Police shall have such powers and duties as maybe conferred upon them by law; (c) the National Assembly may make provisions for branches of the Nigeria Police Force forming part of the armed forces of the Federation or for the protection of harbours, waterways, railways and air fields.”

As a body created by law, the Nigeria Police Force must operate within the confines of the law.

But there are trending issues that have called into question the proper understanding of the place of the police in the affairs of our nation and especially amongst the hierarchy of the Nigerian Police Force under the command of the Inspector General of police Alhaji Adamu Mohammed.

First amongst these worrying trends in the police of Nigeria at the moment is the failure of the police hierarchy to eradicate corruption and abuse of office as stipulated in section 15(5) of the constitution.

There are too many rogue elements in the Nigerian Police Force and there is indeed no verifiable mechanisms put in place to check these abnormalities. Even the Police service Commission set up by law as the Ombudsmen to check the excesses of the Police is actively being undermined by the IGP probably supported by the Federal Attorney General and minister of justice Abubakar Malami under whose watch agencies of government and his appointing authority the President have violated binding court orders and have ridiculed the primary of the rule of Law in Nigeria.

In fact, there are certain actions the current Inspector General of police has adopted and implemented that lays credence to the fact that there is no will power to end the presence of criminal elements within the ranks and file of the police.

These important disturbing steps include the illegal recruitment of about ten thousand recruits which is reportedly carried out against established laws single handedly by the office of the Inspector General of police in which case the list was heavily padded to favour the North of Nigeria. 

By law, the Police Service Commission (PSC) which in section 153/158 of the constitution is an independent institution is charged with the duty of enlistment and recruitment of police operatives and promotion of police operatives up to the rank of Deputy Inspector General of police.

Part II of the PSC Act which spell out the functions of the police service Commission (PSC)  states as follows: “(1) The Commission shall- (a) be responsible for the appointment and promotion of persons to offices (other than the office of the Inspector-General of Police) in the Nigeria Police Force: (b) dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over persons (other than the Inspector-General of Police) in the Nigerian Police Force; (c) formulate policies and guidelines for the appointment, promotion, discipline and dismissal of officers of the Nigerian Police Force; (d) Identify factors inhibiting or undermining discipline in the Nigeria Police Force; (e) formulate and implement policies aimed at the efficiency and discipline to the Nigeria Police Force; (f) perform such other functions which in the opinion of the Commission are required to ensure the optimal efficiency of the Nigeria Police Force; and (g) carry out such other functions as the President may, from time to time, direct. (2) The Commission shall not be subject to the direction, control or supervision of any other authority or person in performance of its functions other than as is prescribed in this Act.

Therefore, the illegal acts reportedly committed by the Inspector General of police has multiplied the credibility crises afflicting the Nigerian police to an extent that for the first time in recorded history, the police service commission and the Nigerian Police Force are in court to seek interpretation of the roles of each in the area of recruitment of police even when the laws are as clear as the daylight. This legal conflict is happening right under the nose of President Muhammadu Buhari who appointed both the IGP, PSC board and also is the boss of the AGF alleged to be fueling the litigation.   

The conflicts between the Inspector General of police and the PSC have also resulted in the arbitrary appointment of police commissioners by the IGP which violates the constitutional law that compels observance of Federal character principle. These appointments are discriminatory against the South East of Nigeria in clear breach of section 42 of the Constitution. 

These appointments by the IGP are so lopsided that the South East of Nigeria got just one person even when the North got over 30 commissioners. This has also heightened tension between the IGP and PSC.

The Police Service commission, led by a former Inspector General of Police, Musuliu Smith, and the police are already in court over the alleged violation of the powers of the commission on the recruitment of 10,000 constables ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The media reports correctly that there have been mounting concerns over the lopsided deployment of commissioners of police across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), leading to a situation where some states have four commissioners of police manning four state commands while some states do not have a single commissioner of police in charge of any state command.

The lopsidedness in the posting of commissioners of police to command positions, with the North-west topping the list of the geopolitical zones with the highest number of CPs in command positions.

The posting showed some states have more than three CPs heading state police commands while others have none contrary to the provision of Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution(as amended),which forbids domination of one section of the country by the other.

It states: “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic of other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies.”

The latest redeployment of commissioners of police effected November 14 fell short of the equitable policy requirement.

The subsequent minor reshufflement that affected the CPs of Ogun and Akwa Ibom States did not follow the policy objectives either, the media observed.

Whilst the PSC and IGP battles for supremacy, the levels of professional indiscipline within the police keep increasing by the day with a lot of criminal elements amongst the police embarking on kidnappings and armed robbery.

In Lagos, the State Police Command said on Wednesday that it had arrested the cops, who abducted a fashion designer, Joseph Ejiro, and recovered the N185, 000 extorted from him.

Media had reported how Ejiro was allegedly abducted by the policemen attached to the Festac Police Post and made to pay a ransom of N185, 000 before he was released.

Ejiro had gone to make a delivery to his client in Festac on November 21, when he was accosted around the Second Rainbow junction by one of the cops, who said his boss was waiting in a vehicle to see him.

In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Ejiro alleged that he was pushed into the vehicle and beaten by the cops when he refused to give them his phone, adding that he was asked to pay N500, 000 to secure his release.

Ejiro further alleged that he was made to transfer the sum of N185, 000 to an account provided by one of the cops before he was released after spending eight hours in their custody. The state Police Public Relations Officer, Bala Elkana, had asked the fashion designer to come to the command headquarters in Ikeja with details of the incident and promised that the matter would be investigated.

Elkana said that the state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, had ordered that the cops must be fished out, adding that they had been identified and were in custody. He added that the money extorted from the fashion designer had also been recovered and would be returned to him.

He said, “The fashion designer came and we listened to him and the CP gave an order that the policemen should be fished out within 24 hours and that was done. We identified them; we have five of them in custody.

“The fashion designer and the police officers have made statements and we have commenced investigation into the matter. We have recovered the N185, 000, which will be handed over to Ejiro.”

The other day Justice Chima Nwosu Iheme of the Benin division of Court of Appeal was kidnapped by men dressed up in police uniforms. In the South East of Nigeria armed policemen are seen practically all over the major roads manning extortion points whereby these rogue officers of the law are seen practically robbing motorists of their hard earned resources. Extortion are also rife all across the Police commands just as extra-legal killings of suspects by police operatives have made the Nigeria Police stations appear to be killing fields. 

The question to ask is when the Nigerian political establishment will become responsible and introduce measures to make the Police accountable and the IGP to respect the laws of the land and to stop behaving like he is above the laws. Nigeria needs comprehensive police reforms for efficiency, competency and effectiveness in crime prevention and comprehensive law enforcement.  The time to actualize these noble goals is now.

*Emmanuel Onwubiko heads HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and blogs @www.emmanuelonwubiko.comwww.huriwa.blogspot.com,www.thenigerianinsidernews.com

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