With four attempts in three years, Nigeria has been unsuccessful in its quest to reform its police force, a situation that has pushed many Nigerians to the streets in pursuit of justice as many now feel threatened by the security agency that was established to protect them turn to be hurting and killing them.
Since 2017 when the first advocacy campaign was…
How can the Nigerian police force become more effective and accountable? What has motivated previous police reform efforts in Nigeria?
The police and other security forces in Nigeria are key players in the government’s efforts to handle the problems faced in the transition to democracy. Ending police abuses and increasing police effectiveness and accountability will help to make democracy more meaningful to the majority of the people, especially the poor and vulnerable.
In common with many other societies in transition from authoritarian to democratic regimes, violent crime in Nigeria is widely perceived to have increased.
Between 1999 and 2004 armed robbery, arson, grievous bodily harm and kidnapping have increased by 24%. A pilot community based policing initiative has been launched in a few states, which is possibly a fundamental departure from previous regime policing strategy.
The project includes training and reform to implement policing with close links to the community and a crime prevention approach. However, there is a risk that the community-based initiative will end up as another isolated project or department if institutional problems are not addressed. These problems include:
- The police are perceived as inefficient and corrupt. The use of private security firms and armed vigilante groups is increasing.
- Previous police reform efforts seem to have been motivated by the need for regime survival, rather than an attempt to make policing more effective
- Political and social factors, such as unemployment within Nigerian society, threaten both police reform and emerging democracy
In order for police and security reforms in Nigeria to be effective, certain structural changes are necessary. key institutional reforms must be implemented for community-based policing to be effective, including decentralisation of authority, a beat orientation, forward planning, performance evaluation, strategies to overcome officer resistance and sufficient funding and Other necessary changes that are if the government is ready for reform: