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THE NIGERIAN POLICE FORCE AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE ADMINISTRATION IN NIGERIA-A STUDY OF CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION IN AMAC
The study examined the Nigerian police force and criminal justice administration in Nigeria-a case study of criminal investigation in AMAC. The population of the study consisted of all the populace of Twelve Wards namely, City Centre, Garki, GUI, Gwagwa, Gwarimpa, Jiwa, Karshi, Kabusa, Karo, Nyanya, Orozo and Wuse. Simple random sampling techniques were used to select 383 respondents out of the population. The instrument used for data collection was questionnaire. The instrument was validated by two experts in evaluation and Test. Data from 383 completed questionnaire forms were subjected to independent t-test analysis. the findings showed that there is positive effect of the roles of Nigerian police force and criminal justice administration in Nigeria-a case study of criminal investigation in AMAC. The study recommended that The role of the police as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria, as it concerns crime prevention and control cannot be over-emphasized. The development of a society largely depends on the rate of crime. If the crime rate is high, it could scare away or discourage investors. Also the safety of lives and property is an issue of priority in any given society. Consequently, the government needs to increase its funding for the police so that modern and adequate equipment to combat crime could be acquired. However, such funds are to be properly monitored to avoid diversion into private pockets and also rid the Nigeria police of its corrupt elements.
1.1 Background of the study
Crime is a social canker-worm that has eaten deep into the social fabric of the Nigerian society such that its effect is multifaceted. Although Durkheim (1958) opines that “crime is inevitable and normal aspect of social life, it is an integral part of all healthy societies; it is functional” (Haralambos & Holborn, 2008:322), its functionality in a society such as ours has to be viewed seriously because of the social and psychological problems it has caused many victims. In fact, no matter the functionality of crime in the society, the act of crime is condemnable and unacceptable in a healthy society, no matter the justification criminals may present.
In the 1970s the popular crimes that were prevalent in Nigeria include: armed robbery, stealing, assault, burglary, rape etc; but today terrorism, bomb blasts, kidnapping, drug trafficking, money laundry, child trafficking, assassinations and other criminal activities have become the order of the day. Ekhomu (2010) noted that “Nigeria was beset with myriad of security challenges such as kidnapping, terrorism, civil disturbance, political violence, fraud, assassination, armed robbery, among others” (Utebor & Ekpimah, 2010:11). In spite of stringent laws and punishments to check these crimes, they have continued to be on the increase with the police seemingly helpless and incapable of savaging the situation.
The Police are charged with the responsibility of internal security by ensuring safety of lives and property. But the question here is “have the police been able to carry out their functions effectively and efficiently?” It has to be recalled that in 1986 Dele Giwa, a founding editor of the Newswatch Magazine was killed during General Ibrahim Babangida government through a parcel bomb (Oyeniyi 2007:51), the first of its kind in Nigerian history. Reacting to the assassination of Dino Dipo an Action Congress Gubernatorial candidate for Ogun State in 2007, Yinka Odumakin, National Publicity Secretary of the Party; described Dina’s murder as a shame to the country. He went on to say that “Dina has now joined the league of Bola Ige, Ayo Daramola, Funso Williams and so many other non-prominent people who lost their lives since the inception of do-or-die politics. One common thread in all these assassination is the inability of the police to bring to book the perpetrators” (Akintunde, 2010:31).
The steady increase of crimes and undetected crimes of various criminal activies recently has raised a general feeling of insecurity of lives and property among Nigerians and those in Enugu State in particular. Between 1996-2000, the police recorded a total of 1,072,026 cases. Out of this, 462,058 or 43.1 percent of the cases were prosecuted while 540,899 0r 50.5 percent cases were ‘under-investigation, undetected or unsolved’ (Soyombo, 2005). The implication of this is that a very significant whooping number of 51.0 percent of the cases were under-investigation or undetected or even closed for want of evidence. This is very bad for a police organization that is supposed to be efficient. Similarly, in 2008 a total of 90,156 cases were recorded by the police. Out of these cases, 51,816 or 57.5 percent were prosecuted and 23,589 or 45.5 percent cases were convicted.
The Nigeria pre-colonial criminal justice system for instance differs both substantially and procedurally from contemporary criminal justice system in Nigeria. While we cannot posit that there was no crime in the traditional society, the justice system procedure involves almost all members of the society (Sa’ad, 1988; Kolo, 2002:13). According to Nweje (1975), it is an indisputable fact that very many, if not most, of the criminal offences and civil wrongs recognized by our laws of today, were also offences known to and administered by our ancestors long before the advent of the Europeans. Murder, robbery, arson, treason, ordinary stealing, burglary, even breaches of the peace and assaults, rape, incest, sacrilege and so on, were all offences recognized, provided for and punished by our native communities before the white man came. There were no established courts; but the village assembly usually met and heard and decided cases that arose between one person and another or between the community and some recalcitrant members. Depending on the arrangement of the particular community the tribunal that first heard the case was the family meeting - in Igbo land called Umunna. From this appeal went to the village assembly or meeting, made up of either just the village elders or the general adult population. Some larger communities (such as centralized monarchies of Benin and Oyo Kingdoms) had higher tribunals. There were differences in details from one community to another but the general pattern was the same or similar all the way (Nweje, 1975:186-187).
The evidence then, just as today as Nweje (1975) goes on to argue was subject to a similar standard or assessment. The eyewitness account always carried more weight than the hearsay. Weight depended on the integrity and credibility of the witness. Age, interest, known reputation and probability of the facts alleged having regard to all other circumstances of the case, were all considered.
If at the end of the hearing the tribunal was unable to say which side was telling the truth, the judgment was shifted from the province of human to that of the divine wisdom. Swearing on some juju was then ordered. Who swore the juju depended on the nature of the dispute. If a man was being accused of doing an act and he was denying, it was he, the accused, who swore that he did not do the act alleged. If on the other hand some property was in dispute, it was the person claiming it who swore. As stated earlier, the order varied from one community to another, but the pattern was usually along these lines.
Punishment for crime varied from beating to death or other form of execution of the offender and burning of his home and belongings, in the case of very serious offences, to fires and, in default, ostracism of not only the offender but also his family and anyone else who continued to associate with him, in other cases (Nweje, 1975: 188).
The above antecedent reveals that there might be less alienation in the traditional justice system of this society compared to the modern ones. As such the modern criminal justice system came up along with a series of changes, both in form and content. Such charges include alienation, deprivation, subjugation, exploitation and domination of the audience by members of the enforcing agencies. The changes which many hoped for after independence remained an illusion, and in fact, the situation has worsened (Kolo, 2002:13). The advent of European administration ushered in an entirely new situation. The Code of Conduct prescribed by the new colonial masters was of universal application to all the communities, which before the colonial era were independent. As earlier stated, some of these new rulers either coincided with or were similar to the ones already prevailing in the various states. This presentation is an exposition of the various theoretical and practical problems of the police as a significant element in the criminal justice system. The paper will equally suggest ways of reforming the police to make it more efficient within the context of criminal justice system in Africa.
1.2 Statement ofthe Problem
The Nigeria Police is saddled with the responsibility of maintenance of law and order. It also protects, prevents and investigates criminal activities. In the discharge of these duties, the force has over the years failed. This is by virtue of certain inherent problems and challenges that has militated the force in its application of its powers as have been statutorily provided. Some of these problems are:
- The abuse of human rights, collection of bribes, corruption in the force, flagrant shooting of suspects and fellow policemen, illiteracy and incompetence of certain police officers to the mounting of illegal road blocks.
- Lack of respect for fundamental human rights of every citizen in the discharge of their duties. These rights and liberties take the forefront in the operation of the rule of law in all democracies of the world today. Sadly, even when the Nigerian Constitution of 1999, reserves an entire chapter (the famous chapter iv) declaring and providing for the protection of these rights, the Police still continue to engage in their abuse from time to time.
- There is police lawlessness which begins with small irregularities or illegalities such as the disquieting features of committing crime of falsifying crime records against accused persons. These sorts of events, actions or inactions indulged in by policemen show an open disregard for the principles of the rules of law and civilized conduct which adversely affect police discipline and make mockery of the Nigeria Police force generally.
- There is also the problem of police extortion at road checkpoints, arbitrary arrest and detection, torture of detainees, administrative cover-ups are a few of the crimes committed by the police force in their pursuit for justice which they claim to uphold.
- Again, the Nigerian Police in the modern age seem to be handicapped in the face of current realities. It has been noticed that despite the teeming police personnel, the force is still bereft of manpower in certain quotas. There have been situations in which the police complain of shortage of staff when issues are reported to them.
- Another problem is the lack of scientific and technological equipment for detecting crimes by the police.
- The police are handicap on the following aspects: Shortage of manpower
i) Inadequate transport facilities
ii) ii) Lack of scientific equipment for detecting crime
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The aims and objectives of this research work are:
1) What is the role of the Nigeria Police in the administration of justice?
2) What are the inadequacies of the police in the discharge of their functions?
3) What are practical solutions for combating crimes in Nigeria?
1.4 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
1) To examine the role of the Nigeria Police in the administration of justice.
2) To identify the inadequacies of the police in the discharge of their functions.
3) To proffer practical solutions for combating crimes in Nigeria.
- There is no significant effect of the role of the Nigeria Police in the administration of justice.
- 2. There is no significant effect of the inadequacies of the police in the discharge of their functions.
- 3. To proffer practical solutions for combating crimes in Nigeria.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The importance of this research work cannot be over emphasized. It analyses the role of Police in the Administration of Justice in Nigeria in order to give the public clearer views on police administration.
Also, the research is necessitated to show case the indiscriminate violations of human rights by the police and the gross increase of crime rate in the country which often leaves much to be desired. With the above issues, this research will serve as a viable
source of information to all and sundry. First, it will benefit the police, those engaged in the administration of justice, law enforcement agencies and the court. It will also provide relevant suggestions on how best to curb the increase of crimes; it is also of immense benefit to policy makers, government officials, academicians, students and anyone interested in the peaceful co-existence of the Nigerian populace.
1.7 Scope of the Study
The study was delimited to the Nigerian Police Force and criminal justice administration in Nigeria.
1.8 Limitation of the Study
Difficulty in gathering materials especially relevant to the study was a challenge since the study is not common. This caused scarcity of relevant research materials from local papers. Hence, the researcher had to rely greatly on the foreign materials in order to put up this work.
Another challenge faced by the researcher was lack of fund and limited time for the undertaking and submission of this work.
1.8 Definition of Terms
The researcher is of the opinion that there are some terms used in this research work that might not be so easy to understand by the reader especially these with little or no knowledge of police terms. Therefore, for the sake of convenience, some important terms are defined below.
- 1. POLICE: According to Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary, the police refers to an organization whose job is to make people obey the law and to prevent and solve crime.
- 2. COMMUNITY POLICING: This means that the police should partner with residents, business owners, community leaders, government departments etcetera in solving and improving the quality of life of members of the community.
- 3. ORGANIZATION: According to John Gavs, organization is the relation of efforts and capacities of individuals and groups engaged upon a common task in such a way as to secure the desired objective with the least friction is done and those engaged in the enterprise.
- 4. CRIME: This refers to activities that involve breaking, the law
- 5. INVESTIGATION: This is the process by which the police carefully examine the facts of a situation especially crime to find out the truth about the crime as it happened.
- 6. POLICE STATION: This is a police office which is commanded by an officer not below the rank of sub-inspector.
- 7. POLICE POST: A police post is the lowest branch in the structure of police and is commanded by an officer of not below the rank of corporal.
- 8. ARMS: These are weapons which be used by the police in fighting crime, example guns.
- 9. ON SPOT ASSESSEMENT: This is the ability of the police to go to the scene of an incident to determine how the incident occurred.
- 10. PROSECUTION: This is the process of trying to prove in a law court that somebody is guilty of a crime.
- 11. BEAT: The usually path followed by someone (police) on duty.
- 12. ARREST: This is the process of taking somebody into custody so as to answer chargers of crime.