The police force is the most powerful constitutional organ among law enforcement agencies in Nigeria.
The overall operational control of the Nigeria Police Force is vested in the President by the 1999 Constitution and the Police Act.
As stated in Section 214 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, “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”.
The Police Act (2009) also states that the Nigeria Police Force is vested with such responsibilities as the protection of life and property; detection and prevention of crime; apprehension of offenders; preservation of law and order; the due enforcement of law regulations with which they are directly charged; and performance of such other military duties within and without Nigeria as may be required of them by or under the authority of any other Act.
As can be seen below, “police” demonstrations have been trending in the media for several months, particularly in Kwara and Osun State.
“About 1,056 youths recruited as Constabularies into the Nigeria Police Force to complement the police in maintaining Security in Kwara state on Saturday staged a protest in Ilorin over nonpayment of 16 months’ salary owed them by the state government.
“No fewer than 480 people recruited as constabularies into the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) in Osun State yesterday trooped to the streets of Osogbo, the state capital to protest nonpayment of 18 months’ salaries.
Some fundamental components of state development include safeguarding valuable assets and upholding law and order. These highly valued assets include the state’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, human resources, and physical infrastructure. In addition, state and human security comprise the pursuit of freedom from want and anxiety as well as the absence of worry that highly valued assets may be attacked.
The rising crime rate, sophistication in the levels of violent insecurity, and the poor response of the NPF to internal security threats show that the functions of the centralized state security institution need to be devolved. As the norm in the post-9/11 era, policing beyond the police has made community policing a global practice.
Community policing relies on the Police Force building relationships with the people living in their areas of operation who in turn support the officers in their work.
Community policing is a philosophy that started many decades back in the United Kingdom and the United States but did not come to Nigeria until 2004.
This policing strategy has been incorporated into modern policing so that the police will respond to a democratic system of governance.
Community policing should be welcomed not only because traditional policing has been failing because it is reactive rather than proactive, but also because the police personnel are part and parcels of the community that they serve.
Three strategies make community policing quite distinct from traditional policing: community partnership, organizational transformation, and problem-solving.
Looking at the prevailing insecurity in Nigeria, adherence to the principles of community policing will help the Nigeria Police Force to overcome the security challenges.
To overcome these challenges, there is a need for reorientation programs for the police and the community, fighting corruption, and ensure that the rule of law is obeyed by the police, community, and the political leaders
The major constraint on community policing is underfunding.
Community policing requires much greater funding than traditional policing since it requires that all officers be trained and retrained, more modern crime-fighting equipment, and morale-building pay raises for officers.
An additional issue bearing on the success of community policing in Nigeria is the emergence of local vigilante groups to fight crimes in communities where police have done little to maintain law and order. Local governments should promote regular local seminars to enlighten vigilantes on their roles, limitations, and cooperation with the police force.
The FCT Minister, Malam Mohammed Musa Bello recently said that community policing in the capital territory failed because the communities over-relied on the FCT Administration to provide all the necessary logistics.
He urged the traditional and political leadership in the Area Councils to show more commitment to ensure the success of the programme, noting with adequate community policing, a lot of the security challenges currently being experienced in the FCT could be surmounted.
“The reality is that security now is everybody’s business. We have tried as much as possible to encourage community policing in the FCT but we have not had success. The challenge we faced, especially, with the community policing issue, is that many of the communities were just waiting for the federal government or maybe the state and in our case, the FCT Administration to pay for everything.
“As you know, resources are very scarce. If the federal government through the system established by the Nigerian Police takes care of the training and maybe the kitting, other things including allowances should be taken up by the local community,” he said.
“Even if initially, it is the community that is funding their transport, their logistics or even paying for whatever they require, when they go for training, the community will still benefit because eventually, it is the same able-bodied men and women that will be absorbed by either the police or the military,” he added.
I strongly stand with the FCT Minister that the welfare of the Community Policing Personnel should be the responsibility of all especially State and Local Governments as the Federal Government has played its part with President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval of N13.3billion for the take-off of the Community Policing initiative across the country.
Additionally, media outlets should educate Nigerians on the benefits of community policing and draw benefactors’ attention to the welfare of community policing personnel because none of these matters should be placed solely in the control of the government.
Community members must acknowledge the arrival of this community policing and be ready to work with the police in crime prevention, detection, and personnel welfare.