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Review Of "Obstacles To Effective Policing In Nigeria" By Emmanuel C. Onyeozili

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The article chosen for review is "Obstacles to effective policing in Nigeria" by Emmanuel C. Onyeozili. It follows the changes in the policing system in Nigeria from pre-colonial to post-colonial systems. It aims to add support to the claim that colonialism and the methods of colonial policing were not in the best interest of the people native to the areas that became Nigeria. The information presented in the article is based on an ethnographic observation of happenings from independence, the Nigerian civil war, military regimes and representative governments as well as data analyzed from magazines, newspapers, academic articles and other documents as well as convenient sample personal interviews. Colonialism involves the rule or taking of territory of one people by another and without their consent. It is a highly controversial topic and the positive and negative aspects have been heavily debated. Expounders of colonialism use former colonies such as the United States of America, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong as expamples of post-colonial success. However these are not typical examples since they were settler societies or tradepost cities and do not reflect the normal course of colonialism. Critics point point out that the acquisition of land and subsequent mistreatment of the native people far outweigh the professed benefits of education and civilisation. Despite arguments put forward by colonists their presence did more harm than good, harm which remains ingrained in Nigeria and other African nations today. The change from traditional values and institutions to harsh corrupt control of the colonists did nothing to help the native and in fact burdened their peoples more.

When colonial control was extablished the eventual emergence of a foreign and illegitimate ruling class led to the need to subdue and monitor the indigenous people to prevent any organized rebellion. So that communities that resisted the new colonial master were dealt with using military force. It was said that the change from traditional values and institutions was necessary since they were seen as unruly and lawless, an image purported by the slave trade and colonialism. It was fitting therefore that the first modern police force in the area was known as the Hausa police and were in fact paramilitary in nature. They dealt with mostly military duties and were perpetually attacked by the public that resented their presence. The police came to be known as the Armed Hausa Police Force and courts were established that sought the interests of the colonists. This movement away from the traditional systems of control where self control was encouraged instead of forced military control was not to the benefit of the people but did make controlling the population substantially easier for colonists. These tactics of brutality and terror have been maintained by post-colonial governments and used against their opponents. The police underwent further changes and had goals and clearly delineated duties, "the prevention and detection of crime, the repression of internal disturbance, and the defense of the Colony and protection against external aggression" Even though the Lagos Police ha these duties law-and-order maintenance and riot suppression remained the main emphasis over social services. After that the amalgamation of the police of the Colony of Lagos and the Southern Nigerian Protectorate was important to the establishment of national police in Nigeria although their main duty remained the management of colonial disorder making Nigerians amenable to colonial exploitation and administration, policies continued to be formed to suppress and repress the need for freedom from the colonial interests. To perform these duties better they continued to be semi-military in nature. This was necessary because of the opposition of several chiefs and their people who continued to fight for their rights so that the execution of the powers of the police was widely criticized. Corruption ran rampant throughout the police system and was partially responsible for the emergence of "ethnic armies".

After independence the influences of colonial socialization continued to plague the society as was demonstrated with the perpetuation of the inherited policing policy instead of a return to traditional value. The relationship of the early Hausa police and the population had set the mold for future relationships. The police forces continued to be the "local arms" of the parties in power so that persons aligned with the ruling party would never face criminal charges. The reasons for these lapses in proper policy are numerous. Cited factors include nepotism, ethnicism, corruption, early socialization and language differences. Institutional constraints also contributed such as inadequate manpower, insufficient education among other poor conditions. Ethnicism was a prominent factor in the break down in law and order , in addition the problems of religious and inter-communal conflicts also played a role since the police often took sides thereby intensifying conflicts and tarnishing police reputation. Ethnic nationalism had the potential to be a positive force but deep seated animosity and easy access to arms and ammunition fueled the battles. Corruption in the form of "God-fatherism" involved the protection of the "connected" criminals from prosecution. This kind of corruption plagues numerous countried of the third world and further discourages public faith in the police. When there are unslved assassinations of high profile persons and police are rumoured to be involved directly of indirectly by turning a blind eye to these crimes only demonstrated the obvious police corruption present. This corruption in fact infiltrated all facets of the police force. Another part of the corruption identified by former minister of Police Affairs, David Jemibewon identified the "Nigerian Factor" where promotions and appointments were not based on performance but given to friends and relatives whether or not they are qualified to hold such a position. The problem of miscommunication also is quite a problem. When the many peoples of the semi-illiterate society use their "mother tongue" it creates a situation where outsiders can not effectively communicate with the native people. There are also constitution problems where the police are concerned, especially where th police under the command of an executive president and have been used to silence opposition forces. The involvement of police in political governance usually creates a situation where the neutrality of the police is compromised. This can be seen in the participation of the police in stae political governance during the military regimes of 1966-1917 and 1984-1999. The efficient performance of duties of the law enforcement process is very important to the effective functioning



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