THE ATTITUDE OF THE PUBLIC TOWARDS THE NIGERIAN POLICE

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THE ATTITUDE OF THE PUBLIC TOWARDS THE NIGERIAN POLICE

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background to the Study

The police institution is a generic human service establishment saddled principally with the task of safeguarding internal security and safety in almost civil societies. In Nigeria, the police are officials of government and society, responsible for the prevention and control of crimes and disorders as well as the detection, apprehension and prosecution of perpetrators of crimes and violence in the country (Alemika, 2012). As such, there is probably no other security control organization that has an intimate dealing with the large segment of the Nigerian populace as the police. Essentially therefore, law enforcement or social control is the generally agreed responsibility of the Nigeria police. They must be available in case of need of almost any kind and demonstrate absolute commitment at all times to render the best possible service to the public. Conversely however, the reverse is arguably the case in Nigeria.

The police and police work present an alternate image to the generality of the people in the country. This is because the police in Nigeria have always been viewed and characterized as brutal, corrupt and ineffective Iwah, (2013). The ordinary man on the street greets them with fear and hatred, perceives them as inept and high-handed and never sees them as allies or friends of the people. The inappropriate policing styles and repressive possibilities often exhibited by them in the discharge of their great task of security management have also not helped the matter. Thus, the prevailing belief is that the police is not likely to be effective in crime abatement, prevention and control or at least reduce the incidence of crime in the community at large. On account of these, the Nigeria public is unwilling to cooperate with the police.

Defending the police performance in the country Alemika, (2013) stated that a combination of structural, political and socio-economic and cultural factors as well as institutional inadequacies prevented the Nigeria Police Force from adequately performing their duties satisfactorily and in compliance with the rule of law at all time. These deficiencies are in fact responsible for the deepening crime rate in the country. Dalhatu, (2013) reiterated that the Nigeria Police has a very serious image problem in the eyes of the public; it hopes to protect and serve. Throughout Nigeria history, the police had been a tool of the state, mistrusted and feared by the people instead of being friend to the general public. As such, the public at large still see the police as an instrument of the ruling class that are always ready to unleash terror at the slightest opportunity.

Presently, Nigeria is suffering from a growing crime-problem, which is progressively threatening its sovereignty, security and development (Alemika, 2012). Despite the constitutional powers granted the police to maintain general security, public safety and peace, the quality of security provided by them has nothing to be proud of. Their roles in many cases denigrate the law, endangering the citizens and blotting the institutional reputation of the police that they represent.

According to Ogunwale, (2004) the Nigeria Police Force falls short of optimum performance. Consequently, in the course of performing its statutory functions to the larger community, the Nigeria police have often been indicted in several ways. This is manifest in the widespread inefficiency, corruption, unfairness in dealing with suspects, occasional over-use of legitimate force, bad temper, bullying and other abuses of citizen’s rights with impurity. Till date, despite the constitutional powers granted the police to maintain public tranquility, safety and general security in Nigeria, the quality of crime prevention and control is nothing to write home about. Police officers are accused of brutality, abuse of human rights, aiding and abetting of criminal activities and engaging in bribery and corruption (Omisakin, 2008)

Opined that the police institution in Nigeria still have a long way to go in meeting its expectations especially in the areas of crime prevention and detection. The police are often not polite to victims of crime, because they are treated as mere sources of crime evidence and not as human beings. Most violent conflicts had occurred due to the ineptitude and inefficiency in the performance of police statutory duties.

Odinkalu (2004) stressed that the capacity of Nigeria police in monitoring and managing the social space in the nation are disappointingly sub-optimal and will continue to remain unless a new relationship of honest and genuine interdependence is built between the government and the governed and between the police as an institution of government and civil society as those from whom government derives its legitimacy. Thus, the thrust of the study is that, despite repositioning of the Nigeria Police Force to ensure safety and security of the people and individual property, their level of efficiency seems to be at a pitiful level. The need therefore arises to explore the public attitude towards Nigeria police.

Statement of the Problem

The Nigeria police are granted enormous powers by law and the constitution to take preventive measures against the commission of all crimes in Nigeria. In this sense, the law allows them to use such reasonable force as may be necessary for the prevention of crimes. In the exercise of this authority, they have in various ways malevolently violated the rights of members of the public with impunity. This practice has earned the Nigeria police different derogatory names, hatred and constant collision with the members of the public to whom they sworn an oath to protect.

So far, it has been observed that the relationship between the police and the public in Nigeria is not cordial. The police are more accountable to the government rather than to the members of the public whose interest they were statutorily established to protect. In Nigeria, the public attitude of the police is warped based on the misuse of powers vested in them. This misuse of powers which creates negative police image and police-public relations is manifested in police corruption and brutality which had been their regular hallmark.

Till date, despite the constitutional powers granted the police to maintain public tranquility, safety and general security in Nigeria, the quality of crime prevention and control are nothing to write home about. Police officers are accused of brutality, abuse of human rights, aiding and abetting of criminal activities and engaging in bribery and corruption. It is on this backdrop this research tend to investigate the attitude of public towards Nigeria police.

Aim and Objective of the Study

The aim and objective of the study is to examine the attitude of the public towards the Nigerian Police.  From this broad objective, the study seeks to explore the following specific objectives which are to:

  • Determine the perception of public and police relationship in crime prevention
  • Identify the types of assaults suffered by the public from inappropriate policing styles and strategies and
  • Assess the public perception of the effectiveness of police performance in crime prevention and control

Research Questions

The following research questions were raised from the objectives

  • What is the perception of public and police relationship in crime prevention
  • Identify the types of assaults suffered by the public from inappropriate policing styles and strategies and
  • Assess the public perception of the effectiveness of police performance in crime prevention and control

Research Hypotheses

The following null hypotheses are raised to guide the study; Based on the broad objective of the study:

Ho:    Public support and cooperation are not likely to enhance police performance in crime management.

H1:    Public support and cooperation are likely to enhance police performance in crime management.

Significance of the Study

          The Nigeria police are granted enormous powers  by law and the constitution to take preventive measures against the commission of all crimes in Nigeria. In this sense, the law allows them to use such reasonable force as may be necessary for the prevention of crimes. In the exercise of this authority, they have in various ways malevolently violated the rights of members of the public with impunity.

The significance of the study is that it will enlighten the public and police why their relationship should be cordial. And explain the attitude of public towards the Nigeria police.

The police are more accountable to the government rather than to the members of the public whose interest they were statutorily established to protect. This study would enlighten the police why they should be accountable to member of the public.

The study would also add to the exiting literature and serve as a guide to student who may want to carry out research on similar topic.

Scope of the Study

The scope of this study will examine the attitude of public towards Nigerian police. The study would also examine how crime can be prevented and management in Nigeria. The study would cover  ???????????????? local government of ????????/ State in Nigeria.

 

 

Operational Definitional of Terms

Police: The civil force of a state, responsible for the prevention and detection of crime and the maintenance of public order

Attitude: A predisposition or a tendency to respond positively or negatively towards a certain idea, object, person, or situation. It can also be referred to as a settled way of thinking or feeling about something.

Public: Refer to people in general, or to all the people in a particular country or community.

Crime Prevention: Is the attempt to reduce and deter crime and criminals. It is applied specifically to efforts made by governments to reduce crime, enforce the law, and maintain criminal justice

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