Nigerian system of policing and it’s impact on curbing or amplifying crime rate and the way forward explanation from the criminological lenses.
By Isah Kamisu Maɗachi (Ambassador)
Muhammad K.G. Labaran (Sen. Capacity)
Generally speaking, in criminological enterprise, the concept of crime is inevitable because crimes are committed in all societies of the world due to human nature and dynamism. Some early criminologist have even concluded that some people are born criminals. As such, in every human society, some certain punishments are codified and prescribed to control human actions and practices. Such social control functions are administered by a number of formal and informal institutions and groups. Among these institutions, the most acknowledged and recognized, yet the most cricized, is the police institution.
Going forward, prevention of crime and disorder, protection of life and property and dealing with law breakers are the core objectives of police as put by the father of modern British policing, Sir Robert Peel, in his ‘9 Principles of Policing’ in which he first suggest that “the basic mission for whom the police exists is to prevent crime and disorder”. Meaning, the raison d’etre of police in every society is to ensure conformity.
However, on the course of discharging their duties the police officers has been regarded to a two categorized major systems of policing, namely: incident deriving policing and the problem solving policing.
The incident deriving policing is a typical example of what is being practiced in Nigeria. It’s a system of policing in which the police department is largely reactivate instead of being preventive. The police officers depend on the community members to call and inform them about the crimes in their neighborhood so that they make arrest and prosecution. In this type of policing, the test of police efficiency is measured by the number of arrest police made. Not the number of crime attempts prevented.
On another hand, is the problem solving policing which is the direct opposite of the first one. In this system, police do all the possible to ensure they prevent people from committing crime. They address or suggest government to tackle the underlying conditions leading to crime. Major of which include poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, homelessness, poor upbringing, peer group influence, etc. This system is being practice in most of the developed nations with enough manpower and other working facilities.
PROBLEM SOLVING POLICING AS THE WAY FORWARD TO THE NIGERIA’S CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS.
The problem solving policing is obviously not possible in a country that takes security issues for granted unless that government makes the prevention of life and property of it’s citizens a top priority. Thus, that government provides the police with the needed paraphernalia necessary for discharging their duties effectively.
It is reported that it is only in Nigeria that police officers would be deployed for patrol with a car empty of fuel. They would not even ask for the fuel or money to refill because they already know the business. Others at the top would always tell them to go and get the money to purchase fuel for the patrol. This is, in some cases, the genesis of some police checkpoints where the police collect money to buy fuel. With this, the possibility of emulating problem solving policing is doubtful.
Forging ahead, critical issues like maintaining police welfarism, providing police with adequate arms and other equipment, and improving relationship between police and the communities they serve, are what signalize the begging of problem solving policing. By so doing, the police will, of course, have better understanding of public’s concern and interact with the people affectionately with the common interest of achieving crime-free society.
Let’s examine the pesky issue of yahooism vis-a-vis problem solving policing; and then explain it’s root, why it persists and how to curb it.
In Nigerian context, almost all those engaging in the recently emerged Yahoo Yahoo illegitimate business are sufficiently literates and intelligent people. Mostly, they studied computer and engineering related courses. They struggled hard and used their time, energy and resources to become knowledgeable but at the end they get no promising reward from the government. Government officials do not cease embezzlement of public funds and this serves as an eye-opener and a go-ahead for most to follow suit.
All the same, it is clear that the underlying condition leading to Yahoo-Yahoo is unemployment. Problem solving policing recognizes that people often commit crimes not because they like it but for survival purposes hence it’s a collaborative task between the police and the government. The government on one hand should provide employment to the youth or at least motivates and empowers them. While on the other hand, police should strive to do all the possible to prevent such crime from happening and or at least make sure it is reduced drastically. It’s worthy to note that “the idle mind is the devil’s workshop”.
Nigeria witnessed one of the biggest protests ever in her history so far since her inception in 1914 i.e the EndSars demonstration that almost teared her apart. One may wonder as to what was the exact genesis of the protest. To cut it short, the hostility and animosity between police officers and the public; and, of course, the issue use of excessive physical force by the police force was what caused the protest.
Nigerian Police officials are reactivate not preventive hence they always try to arrest those involved in such business and they use physical force to the extent that it often results in loss of lives. It is reported that they even stereotype particular group of people and label them members of Yahoo-Yahoo and henceforth arrest or kill them based on their preconceived judgement. If the Nigerian government had realized adopting problem solving policing and rehabilitated the Nigeria Police Force, there wouldn’t have been anything like EndSars protest.