A national police force like the Nigeria police force came into existence when Nigeria was just a few million in population, but times have changed, with Nigeria now occupied by at least 200 million people.
The coming presidency and the national assembly should engage in reimaging the Nigeria police force (NPF), change the format of the current police force to what I call the Nigeria Capital Police (NCP), a specified federal law enforcement branch in line with other federal police force branches with primary and focused functions: the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Nigeria Corrections Service, Nigerian Custom Service, Nigeria Immigration Service, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, Department of State Services, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and others.
That is, the Nigeria police force should no longer be regarded as the primary law enforcement agency across the nation, but rather as one of several federal law enforcement agencies, as mentioned above. The reason for this is that the best way to preserve a democratic government is to have a law enforcement system that is decentralized and in the hands of the individual states and local governments.
Unlike the Nigeria Police Force, which ‘sells’ its men and women to very important personalities (VIP) as security guards and errand boys and used in their private homes and businesses, state-led policing will respond primarily to local communities and needs.
As in the case of Damini Ogulu, popularly known as Burna Boy, whom the Nigeria police force gave five police officers to serve as private security guards, two of the officers shot two attendees of the Club Cubana in Victoria Island, Lagos while they were guarding Burna Boy.
The private use of scarce Nigeria police officers as domestic servants is happening under the orders of area commanders and state commissioners and with the visible approval of the Inspector-General. Despite directives from President Muhammadu Buhari and previous police chiefs to stop the practice, it continues.
I truly doubt that, under a decentralized police system and state-led police systems with good monitoring systems, officers, after being trained and equipped by their individual state and local governments, will be allowed to become domestic servants or workers for private individuals. In the coming presidency and national assembly, in line with modern democracies, state governments should be the ones licensing security guards armed and unarmed to serve as security guards for any private individual security needs.
In the coming years, the presidency and national assembly should amend the constitution, so the Nigeria Police Force is no longer the national police force with exclusive jurisdiction throughout the country. It should become the Nigeria Capitol Police, like the Department of State’s DSS, in charge of protecting the physical Aso Rock grounds, foreign diplomatic missions in Abuja and other regional areas, and acting as a safeguard for the national assembly. Its officers will be tasked with protecting members of the national assembly, officers of the national assembly, and their families across Nigeria, its territories, and possessions. It should take the primary responsibility for protecting life and property; preventing, detecting, and investigating criminal acts; and enforcing traffic regulations throughout a complex of national assembly buildings, national parks, and roads. It should have jurisdiction over capital crimes, over federal roads, and have jurisdiction over federal level crimes.
Abolish the Ministry of Police Affairs and the Nigeria Police Council as the Nigeria Police for a more efficient and effective use of national resources. will now have a limited and narrowed jurisdiction post-Buhari’s administration.
Under state police, the command should commit its resources in partnership with the community to promote a safe and secure environment, maintain order, provide for the safe and expeditious flow of traffic, and practice the essential values of integrity, respect, service, and fairness. Along with the police service commission, which should be limited to having jurisdiction over the Nigeria Capital Police (NCP), states should establish their own police commission for the purpose of being responsible for the appointment and promotion of all police officers.
Each state police commission will exercise disciplinary control over people holding or acting in office in the service; hear and decide appeals from police officers; develop policies and provide oversight over training in the service; and approve and oversee the implementation of training curricula.
Nigeria can move away from the current sorry state of policing in Nigeria by allowing state and local authorities to manage police functions across localities as it helps foster democracy, and the approaches stated here, if acted upon by the incoming president and national assembly, could result in local democratic policing that is more prone to accountability, integrity, oversight, and better resource management strategies. Let’s remember that the fundamental duty of a police officer is to serve the community; to safeguard lives and property; and not act as domestic servants for ogas and madams in Nigeria.
John Egbeazien Oshodi, who was born in Uromi, Edo State in Nigeria to a father who served in the Nigeria police for 37 years, is an American based Police/Prison Scientist and Forensic/Clinical/Legal Psychologist. A government consultant on matters of forensic-clinical adult and child psychological services in the USA; Chief Educator and Clinician at the Transatlantic Enrichment and Refresher Institute, an Online Lifelong Center for Personal, Professional, and Career Development. He is a former Interim Associate Dean/Assistant Professor at Broward College, Florida. The Founder of the Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi Foundation, Center for Psychological Health and Behavioral Change in African Settings In 2011, he introduced State-of-the-Art Forensic Psychology into Nigeria through N.U.C and Nasarawa State University, where he served in the Department of Psychology as an Associate Professor. I am currently a Virtual Behavioral Leadership Professor at ISCOM University, Republic of Benin. Founder of the proposed Transatlantic Egbeazien Open University (TEU) of Values and Ethics, a digital project of Truth, Ethics, and Openness. Over forty academic publications and creations, at least 200 public opinion pieces on African issues, and various books have been written by him. He specializes in psycho-prescriptive writings regarding African institutional and governance issues.
Prof. Oshodi wrote in via [email protected]