Nigeria Police Force, Corruption and Human Rights Violation
By Dennis Anombem Ikedikwa Soeze
The Nigeria Police Force is established under Section 214 of the 1999 Constitution. The aim of the establishment is not for the purpose of business but for protecting the lives and properties of the citizens. With what is viewed from the Force today, it seems to show that the main aim of its establishment has been rejected, abandoned or forgotten. Maybe the aim of the force has been changed in the modern time since it was established in 1930, who knows?
The abstract belief is that police is the friend of the people. In fact, the motto of the police is: ‘’the police are your friends’’. Wait, whose friend?
One doubts the authenticity and reliability of this motto with the way and manner the Nigeria Police performs its duty. The notion of an average Nigerian or almost all Nigerians is that: police is the greatest enemy of the Nigerian citizens. They have caused more evil than good to the good people of Nigeria.
If one is to study corruption in Nigeria, the Nigerian Police Force should be the leading case-study. On the infringement of fundamental human rights, the police are always on top of the list. For convenience, there is need, therefore, to discuss the two highlighted issues one after the other.
On the issue of corruption, the Nigeria Police Force is not left out. The truth is even that, the synonym of corruption is the Nigerian Police Force. The whole system seems to be very corrupt. Even, if corruption is the ‘volkgiest’ of the Nigerian nation that does not mean it should eat so deep into the fabric of the Nigeria Police.
When those meant to fight ‘corruption’ are also very corrupt, what is expected of such body to deliver the expected goods? Never! until Christ comes. What even amazes me the most is that, the process of recruiting candidates into the Force is corrupt and that is more reason why the force is having the serious problem today – corruption.
Many of the men who are into the Force are there, not because of the passion they have for the job, but for the extra gain that comes from it. Look, if they are to start lynching daylight robbers in Nigeria, the highway policemen needs to be lynched first. This is highlighted not to promote jungle justice but to showcase how the policemen have been causing harm to the citizens.
The policemen seem to have metamorphosed the Force to a business concern. Their main aim is no more to do their job but to make financial profit into their tattered pocket. They extort vehicles drivers and even give serious threat on vehicles owners. They delay the precious time of the people without any good reason. What they need is just a token of fifty or hundred naira. In fact, our roads have been ‘’nairalised’’. No naira, no thoroughfare – this is just a total sorry case!
Whether we believe this or not, that is the way the Nigerian police operate. To keep your soul from trouble, one just needs to ‘settle’ these men. If not, things funny can happen. There have been series of cases where police that are meant to fight criminal activities in the society are caught involving in the same ridiculous act. It is no more news to anybody; it is known to all and sundry. We have heard news of how policemen cut-short the lives of those that have refused to bribe them. Uncountable cases of how the police have being colliding with criminals; all because of money. Many a times, criminals have been operating successfully due to the corruption spirit in the police. Once they are ‘settled’ they forget about the main purpose why they are on duty.
The police stations are the home of corruption too. No one visits the police station without dropping something. In fact, to get matter settled in your favor, the only thing to do is to be the highest bidder. Where your bid is lower, even if the case in the real sense is in your favor, the highest bidder will always be favored. Virtually all the DPOs are aware of these corrupt acts – they all share the profit in their business; and this is the reason why the police can never be trusted by the common man. This indicates the fact that the Nigeria Police Force looks very much like a business concern with the way things are done.
On the area of human right, they are the key violators of rights. One of the functions of the police is to serve as the agent of government protecting people’s rights. What is seen in Nigeria is a very different case. The policemen violate the rights of the citizen than any other person or body. They are just too inhumane. They have killed, injured and dehumanized many without apology and with immunity. Take it or leave it, if this persists, definitely, jungle justice will still continue in Nigeria. Without respecting the provision of the constitution pertaining to fundamental rights (CHAPTER TWO), they encroach on people’s rights in public. The sorry part of this is that: when, even after breaching the human rights provision of our constitution, they will take you to their police station, you apologize and even pay them to bail yourself. Nothing and nobody goes for nothing in the police station.
It needs be noted before continuing with this piece that the Nigeria Police Force have, at least, some responsible officers. There are men of transparent honesty and proven integrity in the Force, but they are only few. And since the greater percent of the Force are all guilty of the charges levied above, there is need for the overhauling of the Force. You know, when palm oil is splashed on a part of white handkerchief, the handkerchief completely losses its usefulness.
First, government needs to finance and improve the Force. Mere seeing some policemen, at times, one just needs to ‘’settle’’ them because they look so ‘hungry’ and a hungry man is an angry man. Some of them wear uniforms that are as tattered as that of the mad men walking on the street of Ajegunle. All these signal the fact that the Police Force is not really catered for and that is why the government needs to do something – as urgent as possible.
The policemen also need to be given training and orientation on what it takes to be a policeman. This is needed because many of our police don’t even know what they are really into. They see the Force as a limited liability company that makes profit. This is not so, and many of them are not aware or pretend to be unaware.
They just need to be reoriented through whatever means, maybe by seminars, workshop, sanctions, etc.
There should also be dismissal of reported and investigated weeds painting bad image to the Force. Also, those to be recruited must be made to pass through the due process, if not, the problem will certainly persist.
Those to be recruited should be made to understand what it means to be a police and not to imitate their seniors. Above all, the Force needs a reform.
Dennis Soeze wrote from Warri. He can be contacted via 08106354655