Problems Experienced to Control Crime in Nigeria

Introduction

Nigeria is a beautiful country with varied landscapes. It is such a huge country that the climate varies greatly from one place to another. Rich in biodiversity and tropical vegetations, it is really a tempting place for many tourists to visit. But the crime status is so concerning in the country that tourists have to think many times before heading towards Nigeria. This is because on several occasions tourists have suffered and fall prey to various crimes. Travelling at night is never advisable in Nigeria. This is quite a loss, as far as the country’s tourism is concerned. Not only is a loss to the tourism department, the crime rate in Nigeria is also proving detrimental to the image of the country to the rest of the world. It is not that Nigeria is the only country where criminal activities take place, but the rising rate gives others a chance to state the country’s name as a parameter of wrongdoing. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to have a firm control over the various kinds of crimes taking place in the different parts of the country.

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According to Kristien (2009), “Nigeria, one of the most rapidly growing economies in the world, is the eighth most densely populated country of the world. It is the most populated country of Africa and also most populated among the countries where the population is mainly black” (Kristien 2009). No doubt Nigeria shows a lot of possibilities as per economic growth are concerned but it unfortunately has a prominent and huge problem to deal with. It is the dominance of crimes in the country and the obstacles coming in the way of controlling those crimes. Sharp rise in the rates of all kinds of crimes poses a serious threat in front of the stability of the country. Crime in any form, starting from murder to cyber frauds always keeps the people and the administration of the country in a vulnerable state. It is an unfortunate fact that all kinds of crimes are found to happen in Nigeria. Whenever a mention of crime scenarios are made on a world wide basis Nigeria manages to find a place in the list. This is bound to cause hamper in the development of the country (Maria 2007).

Kristien (2009) notes, crime have many shapes in Nigeria. “Drug Trafficking, murder, theft, housebreaking, robbery, arson, frauds, bribery, assault, rape and many other violent crimes” (Kristien 2009) take place at an alarming rate in different parts of the country. Clashes between local groups leading to communal violence also occur to devastate the lives of people several times. The offenders belong to various groups, and come from different backgrounds. But the main responsibility of keeping peace in the country by controlling crime is on the Nigerian Police Force. The Nigerian Police Force, known as NPF in the abbreviated form has undergone various evolutions since the formation of the force. They are at the charge of crime control in the city since long back. It is one of the most talked about Police forces in the world. But unfortunately the mention is not always for its achievements or efficiency (Alemika 2003).

There are many complaints against the Nigerian police Force regarding their internal corruption and ruthless nature of dealing with different offences. People are not that much integrated with the police force and there is hesitation due to various reasons to seek help or protection from the police. These factors along with several others have erected a strong wall of challenges in front of the Nigerian Police Force. These challenges are hindrances in the way of controlling crime in the country because it is really tough for the police to reach the actual offenders or criminals when they have to deal with the challenges first.

This research paper focuses on those problems experienced by the Nigerian Police Force while dealing with crime control in the country. This also throws light on the past history of the country, its struggles, types of crimes, possible root causes of crime and the areas where most of the crimes are concentrated in order to figure out the possible causes of problems that come to the way of action of the police. After identifying the challenges this paper recommends some measures which can be taken to overcome the challenges to form a better crime management system.

Aim of the study

Along with the aim of the study, it is important to mention the purpose of the research too. The research on the particular subject about the problems faced by the police force in Nigeria aimed at the following things:

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  • The research aimed at figuring out the problems encountered by the police while controlling crime from different angles.
  • In doing so the research had discussed in details the factors hidden in the past and present history of Nigeria that might have acted as root causes of the origin of crime in Nigeria. The purpose of this discussion was to find out any possible solution to the hurdles faced by the police force in Nigeria.
  • The research aimed at exploring the economic, geographical and political backgrounds of Nigeria to establish the relations between the causes of crime and the rate of crime.
  • The research aimed at finding out the prominent flaws inside the police itself to overcome the poor image.
  • Though the Nigerian police have acquired a poor image due to inefficiency and corruption they are recently taking some steps to correct the flaws within themselves. The research has highlighted that also to focus on the willingness of the Nigerian Police Force to overcome the hurdles and improve the relation with people and brighten up the overall image of police in Nigeria.
  • The research has also recommended some measures as probable solutions for overcoming the hurdles while controlling crime.

Thus, as a result, the fundamental aim of the study is to analyse and evaluate the problems experienced by police to control crime in Nigeria.

Literature Review

The topic of dominance of crime in Nigeria is not at all a new one. Several researchers have worked on the topic of the rise in the crime rate of Nigeria and thrown lights on the various root causes of crime there. Nigeria has seen many ups and downs through its way to the current time. The struggle before, during and after the independence of Nigeria has affected everyone in some way or other. This has led to many conflicts, deprivations and grievances among the different groups of people residing in the country. These are some, although not the entire causes of upsurge of crime in the country. Though the origins and causes are different, the outcome is the same. It is the rise in the rate of crime and as a consequence a disturbed and misunderstood image of the country (Maria 2007).

The present scenario is such that Nigeria has become notorious on an international basis for its crime rate and especially the “organized crimes” (Robinson and Olivero 2004). Crimes like drug trafficking, organized cyber frauds top the lists among the other crimes. Though these crimes are now very common world wide these have weakened the image of Nigeria as the country has already a preconceived infamous projection due to its high rate for other crimes. There are instances of senior state officials committing economic crimes. That has made the situation much graver while hunting for criminals.

Other prominent crimes include various serious violent offences performed with arms, either in gangs or as individuals. Particularly during the night time some people use the military and police uniforms to rob citizens and foreign tourists. Tourists and residents have fallen prey to incidents like “mugging, assault, rape, kidnapping and extortion in the hands of armed criminals or offenders” (Reiner 2000). Incidents of house breaking are very common. Residents of unguarded or guarded houses are never safe because there are incidents of breaking houses by armed robbers overpowering the guards quite easily. Apart from houses, institutions like banks, shops and other business establishments and even waterfront compounds are invaded by the armed robbers. These kinds of invasions at the end result in uncomfortable security tightening on roads and different entry and exit points as an effort to get hold of the robbers. But generally the administration is either not speedy enough to react or due to some other reasons the offenders do not come into the clutch. Not only during the night times are incidents of armed robberies take place but they are also not uncommon in broad daylight on rural roadways mainly in the northern part of the country which sometimes results in security harassments which prevent people from travelling to and fro. Slow or no response of investigations from the administrations makes the scenario worse (Kristien 2009).

Crime rates in urban areas are higher than rural areas” (Perlin 2010). This is because of the fact that the cities are over crowded in Nigeria and part of the crowd face various deprivations and have grievances. Being the most populous country of Africa Nigeria can never avoid entry of people from other African countries with false Nigerian citizenship. Over 400 languages are spoken in Nigeria and it is therefore easy to get mixed with the Nigerian population for these people who can commit offences easily herein Nigeria. (Perlin 2010)

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Cases of abductions and violent attacks by armed gang men and robbers are other serious concerns for the foreign nationals travelling or staying in Nigeria for some purposes like business necessities or working in the oil facilities. 93 foreign nationals had been abducted since 2009 in Nigeria from different locations like various oil facilities, roads or residential compounds. This has even led to the death of five foreign nationals. The abduction cases had been reported from different parts of the country including the capital Abuja. Sometimes robbers do not need any reason to launch assault on their victims. Victims can be attacked or shot without any apparent reasons. No doubt foreign nationals need a lot of caution and prior advices to travel to certain troubled locations of the country (Perlin 2010).

Nigeria in recent days has become infamous for the scams or frauds operated from the country. These frauds come in different forms through emails, faxes, or letters. The mails are sent very cleverly to foreigners speaking of some lucrative offers, some big financial deals resulting big commissions or some emergencies seeking help of foreign nationals in return of which financial percentage is promised. Unsuspecting innocent people fall prey to these types of fraudulent offers known as 419s. Sometimes these offers involve credit card uses also. Many people have incurred huge monetary losses and faced other kinds of harassments also.

There will be a better detailed list of crimes generally encountered in Nigeria latter in this paper. But from the discussion and mention of the situation till now it is clear that the country is having real hard times while dealing with its crime rates. Not only the foreign nationals and tourists are afraid of the country but the citizens also live in constant fear of being victimized by various crimes. The positive aspects of the country are overshadowed by this crime rate increase phenomenon. “But the question is why this rate of crime is increasing instead of decreasing in Nigeria?” (Lemanski 2008) Why the Nigerian Police Force is not being able to cope up with the offenders who have kept the normal people always under pressure?

There are several reasons behind the incapability of police to control crime with a real effective result. Sometimes people mention the police as helpful on occasions of victimizations by the offenders or assailants but most of the time the complaint goes against them that they are not helpful or quick enough to help after falling victim of crimes, not integrated with the community and lack efficiency in their way of dealing with criminals. People of both Nigeria and outside who have been there accuse the police of being harsh with the normal citizens and foreigners while practicing tightened securities or road blocks. Sometimes foreign nationals staying in the country for business or work purpose or those unfortunately getting involved in the frauds are detained by the police and harassed. As a whole the image of police in Nigeria needs improvement (Lemanski 2008).

All these are not helping the police as well. These are only some of the hurdles that they are facing everyday while trying to control crimes. There are internal problems like corruption and bribery, shortage of staff, lack of motivation and sometimes inefficiency due to lack of training. Political factors are not to be forgotten. It is therefore necessary to understand the country and its journey till today and the role the police have played in that journey till date. This deep understanding can find out the root causes of crime in Nigeria which in turn can provide a precise view of the challenges that give the police so hard resistance on the way of accomplishing their duty. The next section of the paper makes the effort to provide an in-depth understanding of the country and its background.

About the Country

Nigeria has a drawback in the form of its crime rate. Crime rate is a real botheration and its police force is not able to control it effectively. There are numerous aspects that are really positive for the country. It is necessary to understand the country’s positive sides to know the possible solutions that might be brought forward as measures of reduction in crime rate and effective policing as well. Knowing a country better from every possible angle and the existing problems gives a better understanding of the origin of the crimes. Thus, there stays a possibility to stop the crime from growing at its origin. This in turn could help the police to win over some of the stern challenges they are facing to control crime (Doig 2009).

Everything about a country has a roll to play in the development of the culture of the country starting from its geographical location to its political condition. What gives the people of the country happiness or feeling of deprivation or how they have struggled before and are still struggling? All these matter a lot in the way of understanding the needs of people of a country and police can take advantage of this understanding to reduce the problems they face while controlling crime. However, to understand the issue of crime, it is necessary to understand the nature, culture, demography and history along with its political background.

Geographical location of Nigeria and issues related to environment

Nigeria is a country located in West Africa. It is known as the “Federal Republic of Nigeria officially”. It has thirty six states and the capital of the country is the Federal Capital Territory Abuja.

The neighbour of Nigeria at the west is Republic of Benin, Chad and Cameroon are situated at the east and at North there is Niger. Nigeria derived its name from the river Niger flowing through the country. Atlantic Ocean lies at the south of the country. The highest point of Nigeria is Chappal Waddi” (Williams 2009).

Nigeria is a rich country as far biodiversity is concerned. “One of the largest river deltas, the ‘y’ shaped Niger Delta, formed by the rivers Niger and Benue is located in Nigeria” (Perlin 2010). The Central African mangrove vegetation is the main biological attraction of the delta. Nigeria also houses the most diverse population of butterflies in the world. Nigeria along with the neighbour Cameroon forms the habitat of the Drill monkey which is not found any where in the world. The country is huge in size and ranks 32nd in the world according to the size. Because of the large size Nigeria has varied landscapes and climates in its different parts. “Tropical rainforest, Chad Lake, coast lines, forest, fresh water and salt water swamps and hills” (Perlin 2010), all are available within the single country Nigeria. Varieties of climates harbour a variety of flora and fauna in the respective areas, starting from rainforest vegetation to mangrove vegetation. Nigeria also contains the Savannah grasslands in different parts of the country where the rainfall is lesser and desert like environment is common (Perlin 2010).

This rich diversity of landscape and biology faces threats of oil spill because of the oil industry which is situated in the delta region of Nigeria. Definitely this is one of the concerns for the environmental stability of the region. Different kinds of urban developments, industrialization without proper planning, increasing improperly treated or dumped domestic and industrial wastes, deforestations and soil degradations, change in the climate in terms of global warming are hampering the environment of this country. All these improper treatment with the environment will ultimately leave the environment polluted, the waterways and groundwater contaminated and food production impaired in the agricultural lands. When there will be shortage of food in rural areas the already overcrowded cities will become more and more stuffed with people. This kind of urbanization is already a great problem for Nigeria which is bound to get graver with time. The more the number of people per city the greater is the threat of crime there. So, there lies a possibility of increase in crime rate indirectly related to environmental hazards (Tekena 2005).

Short history of Nigeria and problematic issues hidden in the history

The most populous country of Africa, Nigeria, has an eventful past history to tell about. There had been different stages or time slabs in the Nigerian history which show totally different characters. The people of Nigeria have experienced many ups and downs and got coloured in the colours of the rulers in every stage or era. Different reigns of different rulers have imparted varied effects on the people of Nigeria. Some stories of deprivation or suppression are rooted in the histories which are among the root causes of origin and spread of criminal activities in Nigeria.

The history of Nigeria can be discussed under “pre colonial or early history, colonial history, post independence history, Nigerian – Biafran War, Military era and at the end the current era history” (Falola 2009).

The early history of Nigeria – “The early history of Nigeria dates long back beyond the Pharonic period and the earliest proof of their existence were the found in the form of Terracotta sculpture made by Nok people of Central Nigeria” (Perlin 2010). The resemblance of the sculptures with ancient Egyptian sculptures actually denotes similarity of the social structure and religion of ancient Nigeria with that of Egypt.

By 999 different kingdoms northern parts of Nigeria had become a trade point between West and East Africa. Known kingdoms of that time period were “Kano, Katsina, Hausa Kingdoms and the Kanem Bornu Empire” (Falola 2009). The Fulani Empire started in the 19th century, continued till 1903 and then it was divided into different European colonies. “History of suppression is found in the fact that between the time period of 1750 and 1900 a huge population of the Fulani Jihad states was made slaves” (Falola 2009).

The south-western part of the country has history to tell about from around 700. The mention worthy kingdoms was the “Yoruba kingdoms Ife and Oyo. But the most powerful kingdom of all was the Kingdom of Benin” (Falola 2009). Benin stretched its reach up to the city of Eko, which latter became the famous Lagos.

In the south-eastern part of the country possessed the oldest kingdom of Nigeria, the Kingdom of Nri of the Igbo people which flourished around the 10th century and flourished till 1911” (Falola 2009).

Colonial Period of Nigeria –When Nigeria was ruled by the rulers within themselves they had slavery and that definitely was a tale of suppression and suffering” (Falola 2009). But those were within the country itself. People didn’t have to leave the country to serve as slaves. But when Nigeria was colonized by the Europeans the slaves were forced to suffer that displacement also.

The first Europeans coming to Nigeria for trading were the Portuguese, who mainly traded from the ports of Lagos and Calabar. The people started suffering when the Europeans started slave trading with the ethnicities of Nigeria along with other trades” (Falola 2009).

The slave trading was stopped by the British in 1807.

The British established claim over a part of West Africa in 1885, and then they deployed Royal Niger Company to take control of the land.

In 1900 Nigeria came under the control of the British Government and in 1901 it became a part of the British Empire formally. Nigerian people had protested against this by fighting a number of wars in the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries. The British conquered Benin in 1897 and the Anglo – Aro war was fought in 1901 – 1902” (Falola 2009).

But the British rule was established stronger rather than be demolished. In 1914 Niger was integrated with Nigeria.

From the time of British colonization the educational, economic and political scenario of Nigeria had changed forever and had been influenced greatly by the western trend of modernization. There also existed the instances of inequality as the northern part of the country was neglected as far as development is concerned than the southern part. Even slavery continued to exist in the north till 1936.

Independence and Post Independence Period – After World War II the intense demand of independence led the Nigerians to the formation of self governance. Then in 1960 Nigeria got its freedom from the British Empire. The first government of Nigeria was as expected a coalition of 2 conservative groups. The groups were the “Northern and Islamic faith dominated Nigerian People’s Congress (NPC) and the Igbo and Christian faith dominated National Congress of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC)” (Falola 2009). The first Governor General of Nigeria Nnamdi Azikiwe belonged to NCNC. “The Yoruba dominated liberal Action Group (AG)” (Falola 2009) formed the opposition.

The post independence period was not a stable one for Nigeria. The differences between the different groups persisted and that too quite sharply. “The difference became clear as southern Cameroon joined the Republic of Cameroon in 1961 and the northern Cameroon stayed with Nigeria. In 1963 Nigeria declared itself Federal Republic and Azikiwe was declared the first president” (Falola 2009). Election was held in 1965 but the fairness of the elections was questionable in nature. Though self control was gained by the country stability was far from coming.

Nigerian Biafran War (The Nigerian Civil War) – The stability of Nigeria was further disturbed by a chain of military coup attacks, killings and political unrest. The beginning of the coup was in 1966 by the leftists after the elections were charged with corruption. The Nigerian Army then took charge of the country’s administration. Military coups and counter coups did not only kill the fighting military officers but also of innocent civilians.

In 1967 the eastern region declared autonomy and formed Republic of Biafra” (Falola 2009). It was the beginning of the three years old civil war in Nigeria as the Biafran Republic was attacked by the western and northern Nigeria. Till 1970 one million people lost their lives due to this civil war (Falola 2009).

The Military Era – Since 1970s Nigeria had been suffocated under ruthlessness of the several military rulers. The production of oil increased during this period and Nigeria joined the OPEC. Though the revenues from oil increased the Nigerian people became poorer and the economy badly affected as corruption had become really deep rooted in all the levels of government. A trial to bring back democracy was made in 1979 when Shehu Shagari got the power from the hands of previous country head Obasanjo but that government was also overpowered by Mohammadu Buhari on charges of corruption. The latter too was removed from power by a coup in 1985. From then it was the reign of Ibrahim Babangida, who continued till 1993 when an attempt to return to democracy was made. Another coup attack was launched and power was snatched by Sani Abacha, the most ruthless ruler of Nigeria. Due to his reign, violence was so common that there was no trace of peace and race in the lives of civilians. Corruption and bribery was at the peak. In short it was such a time no Nigerian would like to remember. This period had done limitless harm to the country.

The current era – Nigeria could return to democracy in 1999 as the suspicious death of Abacha proved to be a boon for Nigerians in 1998. Previous military state head Obasanjo became the president. But all the elections of 1999, 2003 and 2007 were charged with wide spread corrupt practices. In 2007, “Umaru Yar’Adua of the People’s Democratic Party” (Falola 2009) came to the power. “Yar’Adua passed away on May 5, 2010 and Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan” (Falola 2009) became president in his place.

Now Nigeria has a democracy. They are trying to repair the damage done by previous corrupt rulers and government level corruption could be controlled to some extent. But there are miles to go before corruption can be uprooted. Nigerians are fighting today with the consequences of the previous rulings as they have to face violent ethnic fights over the Niger delta, lack of basic infrastructures and the outcome of all these, that is increased rate of crime (Tekena 2005).

Differences in Ethnic groups, Culture and Religion

Being a vast country Nigeria offers diversity among the different ethnic groups, culture, languages spoken and religions practiced over the different parts of the country. There are 250 ethnic groups in Nigeria who represents different religious beliefs. The main ethnic groups are “Hausa – Fulani of the North, Igbo of the southeast and Yoruba of the southwest” (Falola 2009). These together comprise of about 68% of the population. Other ethnic groups are also there who have their own set of beliefs. Among other groups “Edo, Ibibio, Ijaw, Kanuri, Goemai, Pyem, Kofyar” (Falola 2009) are some. Along with the original Nigerian people there are populations of people living in Nigeria who have come to stay there from other different countries.

It is apparent from the number of groups and subgroups that the determination of the actual population of Nigeria is difficult as it might provide confusing figures to present their own group as superior in number.

The official language of Nigeria is English. But there are about 521 native languages spoken by the different groups of Nigeria. Among them some are living, some are extinct and some are living but have no native speakers. Even in the same group in some parts more than one language is spoken. It is an easy condition for any body from any other part of Africa to get mixed within the population of Nigeria if some or other languages are mastered. Most of the urban people know English in Nigeria as a result of British Colonization there. It is a requirement there to keep a common language known by all to tackle the problem of being a multi linguistic country. But in rural areas English is not spoken and communication is carried out through the local language generally (Perlin 2010).

The variety of ethnic group and languages point towards a variety of religious beliefs as well. Nigeria is a host of Islamic and Christian religions along with traditional beliefs which is somewhat suppressed in some places.The distributions of Islamic and Christian believers are different in the different parts of the country. The northern part of the country is mainly Islamic with some states incorporating Sharia Law in the legal system and the middle part hosts both large numbers of Muslims and Christians. Traditional beliefs are practiced throughout the southern region along with Christianity.

The main religions have divisions among themselves also. Muslims are divided into “Sunni, Shia, Sufi and a small group of Ahmadiyya” (Falola 2009). Of them Sunni is the main predominant group. Christianity also has subgroups like the Catholics and Protestants. Some populations of Yoruba are Anglican. Some people practice the original traditional religion only.

So many groups and sub groups, religions and sub groups within religions are not easy to tackle and they often indulge in conflict within themselves. These conflict leads to communal clashes leading to heavy losses.

Economy of Nigeria and issues related to it

Nigeria does not have any deficiency in its natural resources. It is a rich source of petroleum. “It is one of the largest producers and exporters of petroleum in the world” (Guichaoua 2009). As previously stated it is also a member of OPEC. “Petroleum plays a big role in the economy of Nigeria” (Guichaoua 2009). However, it is not been utilized the exporting capacity to the fullest due to some “agitations in the Niger delta petroleum accounts for about 80% government earning of Nigeria” (Falola 2009).

The other important sectors of economy contributing to the earning of Nigeria include telecommunications, agriculture, mineral resources and some manufacturing industries. Telecommunication market is one of the most flourishing ones in the market. Many big telecom operators have their main centres based in Nigeria. Nigeria also has a satellite observed from Abuja and based on that the Space based communication systems are being designed.

In recent times the banking and other financial services sectors are also emerging as potentially big contributors to the economy.

Except the petroleum, telecom and banking sectors the other sector having potential to make big contributions to the economy is the agriculture. Agriculture has fetched foreign exchange for Nigeria previously also. Quite a large population in the rural areas has the main occupation in the form of agriculture.

The main agricultural products are “coconut, groundnut, cocoa, sugar cane, different fruits, millets and palm oil” (Falola 2009). In agriculture, also just like petroleum, the fullest potential is not used in terms of land use. It might have given more earning to people if fullest land potential could be used.

Nigeria also has a rich mineral resource like “natural gas and coal and minerals like tin, lead, zinc, gold, limestone and bauxite” (Falola 2009).These could earn good money for Nigeria but the potential of mining industry also is really under utilized.

Some contributions are made to the economy by the different manufacturing units producing different items in the country. Alongside, it should be mentioned that “Textile, leather, car, plastics and processed food are manufactured” (Falola 2009) in different parts of the country.

From the above discussion it is clear that Nigeria has real promises in the field of economy and has all the possible reasons to flourish with prosperity. According to the World Bank Nigeria is currently reached the middle income status. It definitely is an emerging economy. But still it has so many issues which erect walls in the way to better growth. Due to the previous dictators and corrupt rulers immense harm has been caused to the economy of Nigeria. Apart from that there are ethnic group clashes involving the Niger delta and agitations on the charges of poor management of the oil resources. That prevents the country from utilizing the full potential of petroleum production and indirectly blocks roads of earning by people. Agricultural lands are underutilized; mining industry is in the primitive state. A full utilization of all these resources is necessary to stop people to migrate to cities and resulting overcrowding because of the lack of occupations (Tekena 2005).

Flourishing of Crime

The history of Nigeria stated above shows the different extreme conditions through which Nigeria had to pass. From the commencement of detectable history of Nigeria there have been examples of elites of the society suppressing the others and putting them to slavery. From that time only the normal Nigerian citizens started to live in some fear or other. During the period of colonization the innocent people lived under the pressure of the foreign rulers who used to reap the profit away to their countries, treated the native people as slaves and even traded them as commodities and left them dry. Next after independence the crime among their own countrymen surfaced to aggravate their sorrow (Guichaoua 2009).

During post independence period corruption was at the rise which peaked in the military ear like anything. Each and every government coming to the power successively was charged of corruption. The rulers in power had no time to see whether the people of the country were getting any benefit or not. What could be expected of the people of a country where the government itself was so corrupt? Lack of education, occupation, suppression, lack of no proper planning for the future for the country and fear of getting harmed are the main causes that led normal people to take the avenues of crime.

Root causes of the origin of crime

Crime in Nigeria may be visible from outside as an ever growing menace. All possible types of crimes are found to take place in the country. No body is spared of the fear of being a victim of crime, be it a Nigerian citizen, somebody of a different country staying for work purpose there or a foreign tourist. Police is not being able to tackle the surging rate of crime with the utmost efficiency needed. There are so many hurdles that come in the way of action of police which are hard to cross. But before crossing the hurdles it is absolutely necessary to understand the root causes of crime so that the possibility of evolution of newer crimes can be demolished at the root by destroying the source itself. When the roots of crime would be taken care, crime will stop originating in newer forms and it will be easier for the police to concentrate on the existing menaces.

From the above discussion and many other pieces of literature several reasons are clear which can be denoted as the root causes of the origin of crime in a country like Nigeria. The causes are summarized in a bulleted form below.

  • Years of suppression and negligence giving rise to large number of deprived people – A part of Nigerian elites, actually a very small portion had treated a huge section of the people as slaves and suppressed them immensely till quite late in the history. This deprivation was obvious to give birth to a sense of great deprivation and a tendency to snatch what was kept aside from them. This is a tendency till date due to which a big part of the society is still suppressed with an intense deprivation while a small part of privileged people enjoys all the facilities (Tekena 2005).
  • Lack of stability and insecure future during the civil war – Human life demands stability to flourish in peace. Nigeria had gone through coup attacks and a devastating civil war. There was no trace of stability and the whole civil life was put under unrest. People took the avenue of crime with no job in hands and no surety of future.
  • Destruction of economy in the hands of corrupt military rulers – The military rule was the nightmare of Nigeria. The oil production and revenue from it increased significantly during the military period. But due to the corruption of the military rulers the countrymen could not get any benefit from that revenue. The economy of Nigeria was destroyed due to the military rules. If the government of the country is so corrupt it is expected that the criminals of that country are going to take the advantage by bribing the officials and getting rid of the charges. Along with the existing criminals some of the new criminals were added during that period and the total pool of criminals increased (Guichaoua 2009).
  • Underutilized agricultural and mining sectors – the more are the scopes of rewarding occupation of the people of a country utilizing the promising natural resources the less is the number of unemployed youths flocking in the cities. Nigeria is very rich in natural resources. It had fetched foreign exchanges for the country in the past by exporting many agricultural products like groundnut, coconut and palm oil. But the agricultural sector is really under utilized as far the fullest capacity is concerned. Same with the mining industry. The mining industry is in a primitive stage in Nigeria. In spite of having “rich deposits of coal, natural gas, gold, tin, bauxite and limestone the mining sector” (Esharenana 2008) is not able to provide as number or jobs as it is capable of. The huge unutilized resources lie idle while people from rural areas gather in the cities to earn a living. The cities become over crowded and number of people indulging in crimes in absence of a proper occupation increases.
  • Difference among religious beliefs, ethnic groups and political parties leading to violent group clashes – Nigeria has a huge number of ethnic groups who speak different languages and believe in different religions. They are rigid with their beliefs and like to declare superiority of their own groups in different ways. Those differences of opinions and fight of dominance spark group clashes and communal riots several times in the country spilling blood on the roads. “Fights occur over the Niger Delta among ethnic groups” (Siguaw 2008). This internal difference only had led the country to a civil war before and still there is no respite of it whenever there is a reason of conflict available. These groups along with the political parties with different ideologies have become intolerant of each other and believe in obliterating the opponents physically instead of competing in a fair way (Siguaw 2008).
  • Youths getting influenced by the wrong image set up by leaders – One of the most prominent reasons for which the youths of Nigeria are turning to crimes.. When youths are provided with the visible example of the power enjoyed by the notorious stalwarts like “Gani Adams or Asari Dokubo” in big cities like Lagos they are attracted to that kind of life instead of leading one full of hard work, deprivation and suppression which is due to lack of proper leadership before them. The example of this type of group of people is the Area Boys who have kept the citizens of Lagos under constant terror. They do number of crimes like political killings, arson, drug abuse and rape and let nobody voice any protest against them. Unfortunately their image has become popular and children of the next generation are getting influenced by them. If this is allowed to happen this nuisance would never come under control.
  • Weakness of police department – This point is to be taken quite seriously by the Nigerian Police Force. People have a number of complaints against the police. It is a subject to consider that if the police are efficient then why the criminals are flourishing in this way? Along with being understaffed the police department also lacks proper equipments and appropriate training. Corruption, association with the criminals and even involvement in the crimes are the major internal problems of the police. In this given circumstances crime is bound to thrive in peace (Williams 2009).
  • Elite people getting protection and normal citizens are not – Crimes thrive in the areas where there is no provision of security. The security provided by the police in the cities is mainly concentrated around the public officials who utilize the public fund for arranging security devices like the bullet proof cars as safety measures for themselves. The security of the large number of normal citizens stays neglected. The unprotected citizens are left on the mercy of notorious criminals and crime continues unchecked.
  • Lack of motivation and channelling of energy for the youth – if the youth of Nigeria are provided with the proper channels to propel the immense stagnant energy within themselves they will not get interest in indulging in violence and other crimes like drug abuse. The channels might be anything, sports music or anything else that diverts the direction less minds of the Nigerian youth to a proper direction (Tekena 2005).
  • Lack of political motivation to wipe out non violent crime like corruption – The people of Nigeria suffered the consequences of corrupt governments because the government itself lacked the will to uproot the practice of corruption from its origin 5. Corruption had not been taken as a serious offence even by some of the successful governments coming to power. In this condition the corrupted people gained the courage to continue unchecked with their activities and keep on harming the country as much as possible. Within two decades nobody was tried in any superior courts on the charge of corruption. It is not at all surprising that corruption has now become so deep seated in the system that it is really hard to get rid of. It has become a stigma for the Nigerian people on the international basis and image of every Nigerian is portrayed as a corrupt one (Siguaw 2008).
  • Easy access to the arms – It is evident from the rate of armed robberies and other violent crimes that fire arms are available very easily to the people committing crimes. If the sources can be traced and dried then controlling armed crimes will be easier.
  • Too rapid urbanization – After the ‘Oil boom’, the cities of Nigeria started bursting with population.

During 1970 and 1980, the number of people living in the urban areas grew with the rate of 16 to more than 20 percent. By 2010 the people living in urban Nigeria were expected to account for 40 percent of the total population of the country. In Nigeria in 1990 there were 21 state capitals each of which had a population capacity of about 100,000 people. But fifteen of them had a population of 200,000” (Esharenana 2008).

  • The population went doubling every fifteen years. People mainly moved to the cities in search of occupations either in production or assemblage units or different financial institutions. In cities like Lagos the consequences of such overcrowding is evident in forms of slums, poverty, filth, traffic harassments, unemployment. This is a very ideal condition for crimes to take place.
  • Role of the family – A child gets influenced by the family at the most than any other associations like the peer group and the school. The maximum effect of the family is exerted on a child in the early formative stages of development. If a child finds the parents and other family members involved in the criminal offences or if not taken care properly that shapes the child’s mind and determines whether the child in future will become a criminal or not. The opposite might happen if a child is cared properly in a family and sees the surrounding behaving in an orderly and just manner (Williams 2009).
  • Media also has a role to play – Unfortunately crime news coverage is very popular with the general people. People like to savour crime news just like delicacies in the news paper or the electronic media. News channels covering this kind of news get heavy profits. That is why media finds the crime situations attractive and tempting. But the root causes of crime interests nobody as a result it remains unnoticed that the youth involved in the crimes are victims of poverty and unemployment. Many youths associated in political assassinations, kidnapping and armed robbery are unemployed University Graduates who are denied ‘the good life’ in the society. If the root of crime is to be uprooted the media would need to take some positive responsible part in the process.

Types of crime

In Nigeria one can find all kinds of crimes flourishing with ease. Both kinds of violent and non violent crimes are seen in Nigeria. Violent crimes might be murders, political killings, house breakings, armed robberies, piracy, arson, rape or communal or sectarian violence. Non violent crimes generally include the corruption and cyber crimes. All the crimes are done with perfection and the police department finds it quite difficult to cope with the frequencies and accuracy with which the crimes take place. The citizens of big cities like Lagos live in a constant fear of crime and because of the inability of the police to cope with the situation they are able to have faith on them (Tekena 2005).

Non violent crimes

Corruption – Corruption has been a problem with Nigeria since it has gained its independence. Nigeria has passed through military coups and counter coups in a mad rush to acquire control over the power. Different rulers have come in power, but all of them were charged with corruption by others. Nigeria is an OPEC member, being fortunate enough to have deposits of oil and natural gas. The production increased significantly during the 1970s. Oil is such a sector which earns very high revenues for the country. Nigeria is not an exception. 80% of the government earning is through oil. But still, Nigeria could not take advantage of that earning and poverty continued to prevail forcing more and more people to take the easy route of crime to tide over the disgraceful life conditions. This continues because of the corruption in the higher level is leading to misuse of public fund, the powerful and rich become richer and the poor grow poorer (Siguaw 2008).

Cyber crimes – Some people in Nigeria have come to the news headlines for using the internet, but unfortunately not for any correct reason. Nigeria has become infamous for its involvement in the cyber crimes in the recent times. The cyber 419 frauds and some other crimes have become well known and have affected people from all over the world through the use of internet. This in turn has damaged the image of Nigeria so badly in front of the world that every Nigerian is getting suspicious look from people of other countries.

The cyber crimes include the infamous “419s, email scams, hacking, data theft, dissemination of virus and worms, frauds and impersonation” (Esharenana 2008). Internet is the fastest way to reach the people anywhere in the world. People conduct various activities using the internet including business, money and data transfer. This opportunity is grabbed by the cyber criminals for duping unsuspecting internet users. People are sent emails with different lucrative offers with unbelievable packages, mails with the information showing somebody has won huge amount of lottery, attractive deals with big commissions, some desperate urge for help from somebody in some sort of emergency offering big money in return. People who respond are asked to send some money as some fees payable to get the reward in hand and when they do as directed they are duped of the money. All these offers are fraud and ways of earning money by cheating people. Many people have become the victims of such frauds all over the world. The mails are sent so cleverly that they at first give no hint of suspicion (Tekena 2005).

These frauds along with the hacking, data theft and other cyber crimes are giving Nigeria itself a dreadful time. Cyber crimes are intelligent crimes and need a particular level of skill to control those. There is a dearth of necessary skill among the security providers of internet and that has to be fulfilled with better skills than the offenders. Cyber crimes are very much needed to be controlled to make a correction in the image of Nigeria (Williams 2009).

Violent Crimes

Violent crimes, be it an assassination or a communal clash, have been a headache for Nigeria ever since. Murder, robbery, house breaking, arson, there are many to name. Violent crimes are seen mainly in big cities which are the hubs of economic activities and have huge populations. Groups of armed people known as the area boys are the nightmares of the citizens living in Lagos.

Piracy – Incidents of piracy are common in the waterways of Nigeria. Piracy is generally reported from the Niger Delta area. Ships carrying the oil company employees and materials are attacked more than the merchant vessels carrying cargo. “From January to October in 2007 twenty six ships were attacked by the pirates” (Siguaw 2008). Control of pirates is difficult because of abundance of waterways in the area and weak law enforcements.

Area boys – Area boys are groups or gangs of young street children or teenagers based mainly in Lagos State of Nigeria. They mainly are Yoruba youths, mainly male but may consist of female members rarely. They mainly extort money from people passing by in the roads, drug abuse and sometimes other violent crimes. Sometimes they also do odd jobs in return of money, like working as informal security guards (Siguaw 2008).

Murders – Murders are the most brutal of all crimes which involve violence over somebody. Murders are mainly common in bigger cities like “Lagos, Lagos Island, Mushin and Kosofe” (Esharenana 2008) which are the centres of different economic activities. Murders can be “politically motivated, planned, unplanned or as a consequence of some robbery or other violent crimes” (Esharenana 2008). In a survey conducted in 2003, 1% of all households in Lagos reported the murder of a member of the family.

House breakings – Nigerian citizens, who can not afford guards or guarded campuses, are always in the threat of housebreakings. Armed group of burglars or individuals break into houses to take money and other valuable things away. Affluent people resort to the consolation of iron gates or burglar proofs or security guards. But if the burglars are determined enough no security guards or walled compound can prove to be a problem to them (Tekena 2005).

Confraternities – Confraternities are various groups of university based students performing secret ‘campus cults’. Originally started as a group of promising students the confraternities became groups with violent activities. By 1990 these groups had started operating as criminal gangs. These groups get involved in political violence among other crimes. In 1999 the Obafemi Awolowo University became infamous for murders by some secret cult members. In Niger Delta these cult members carry on different types of crimes, including kidnapping foreign oil workers for ransom. Even in recent days there activities are at peak. In 2008 – 2009 the monthly campus cult related deaths in Benin City were reported to be 40 (Williams 2009).

Drug trafficking – Drug trafficking is one of the most important crimes in which the Nigerians are involved. The ethnic Nigerians staying in India, Pakistan and Thailand account for the 90% of drug trafficking taking place all over the world. “The Nigerian drug traffickers deal mainly in heroin and cocaine which they trade to and fro Asian countries, Europe, America, South America and South Africa” (Williams 2009).

Communal riots and group clashes – Looking at the vastness of the country it becomes evident that there obviously a huge number of differences of opinion among the different groups residing there. It has been previously stated in the research that Nigeria comprises of more than 250 ethnic groups, equally divided religious population of Muslims and Christians and group of people who believe in traditional religion of Nigeria. All these groups like to hold their own group up as the superior to the close competitors. As a result conflict surfaces and sometimes take the shape of blood shedding violence.

Clashes among groups caused a nightmarish civil war spanning three years in Nigeria killing thousands of people. Then came the military rule when there was violence also due to political unrest and repeated coup attacks. Since Obasanjo came back to the power in 1999 as the President in the democratic Nigeria the country had lost the lives of ten thousand Nigerian people.

The main cause of group clashes and communal riots are distrust and intolerance to each other. But there are other reasons too. These reasons include political motivation and the fight of dominance over the Niger River delta. Much blood has been shed of people and still the groups are ready to pick up any reason for fighting with each other.

Crime hit areas

The most crime hit areas of Nigeria are the urban areas which are overcrowded and shelter a huge number of unemployed people. In some cities there are segregation among affluent areas and areas which are poor, having under developed infrastructure or areas having heterogeneous populations. The rate of crime is greater in the affluent areas due to the possession of valuables by the residents. But in cities where the division is not clear, every type of household is prone to be victimized by crime. A survey conducted by Etannibi. “EO Alemika and Innocent C. Chukwuma for Cleen Foundation” says, theft of property from car was generally widespread across the LGAs but nonetheless highest in Apapa and Mushin, and virtually non-existent in Alimosho on the periphery of Lagos metropolis. Victimization in terms of burglary was highest in Ajeromi – Ifelodun, Lagos Island; Ifako-Ijaye and Shomolu. All the LGAs, with the exception of Lagos Island, are relatively densely populated areas, while the Island is a commercial center with high concentration of financial institutions, merchandise stores, and offices. Higher levels of robbery were reported in Lagos Island, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Ojo, Agege, Apapa and Mushin. Respondents across the LGA reported high levels of theft, with those in Apapa, Oshodi- Isolo, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Ifako-Ijaye, and Mushin reporting high levels of victimization(Alemika and Chukwuma 2005). Lagos Island according to the statistics seemed to be a heaven for various crimes scoring highest in murders, extortions and automobile thefts, while though experiencing some extortions cases and automobile hijacking Alimosho showed the least number of crimes in all aspects.

The Nigeria Police Force

Nigeria is having a real hard time with all the crimes going on in the country where the lives of people are uncertain with the fear of crime. The possible ways of coming out of the situation is not visible and law and order situation is not able to bring back faith in the minds of people. The keepers of peace in the country are themselves under question from people. People are charging police of harassing the normal people only along with tourists instead of grabbing the real offenders. In the true sense the Nigeria Police Force is facing some crisis (Gunnar 2007).

It is not that the police are not trying to overcome these weaknesses through some reformative actions. They have taken steps to figure out the problems and have succeeded in the job to some extent also. If the Nigeria Police force is to be talked about in order to find out their flaws which are creating barrier in their way, some basic information about them should be acquired. That will help in the better understanding of their strength and weaknesses (Williams 2009).

Brief History of the Nigeria Police Force

The background history of Nigeria Police Force is quite old. The Nigeria Police Force had started its journey as a consular guard of thirty members way back in 1861 in Lagos Colony.

In 1879 formation of 1200 member Hausa Constabulary took place. Subsequently in 1896 and 1894 Lagos Police and Niger Coast Constabulary came to existence. Royal Niger Company had formed the Royal Niger Company Constabulary in 1888 in Lokoja part of which in turn became the North Nigeria Police in 1900s while part of the Niger Coast Constabulary became the Southern Nigeria Police. An amalgamation of the North and Southern Police force took place in 1914, but the actual merger took place in 1930 when the Nigeria Police Force came into existence. The headquarters were in Lagos. After the independence in 1960, first regionalization and then nationalization of the police force took place” (Esharenana 2008).

It should be mentioned that “Section 194 of the 1979 Constitution of the country designated the Nigeria Police Force to have exclusive jurisdiction all over the country” (Esharenana 2008). Constitution also provides for the establishment of separate branches of Nigeria Police Force for protection of specified areas like “harbours, waterways, railways and airfields. One such branch of Nigeria Police Force is the Port Security Police” (Esharenana 2008). However, “The Nigeria Police Force was handed over the responsibilities of the internal securities, handling the prison, customs services, immigration and military duties inside or outside Nigeria” (Cleen Foundation 2009). The police are the institution which is responsible for the maximum protection of the citizens.

Apart from a responsible one the police force is supposed to make an attractive career. But the Nigeria Police Force has a number of issues to face within them. They have problems related to “recruitments, adequate training, indiscipline among themselves, inefficiency or lack of skills in some specialized fields” (Esharenana 2008). The problem of corruption and dishonesty had created a distance between police and the common people. Police have a tendency to fail to report crimes and resort to self help perform paramilitary duties which needs the use of force than the community functions like crime prevention and investigation. Police needs to build up sound relation with the public in order to achieve better control over crime and give up corrupt practices to deal with the poor image and performance of the police department.

Duties of the Nigerian Police Force

There is a provision for a central police force in Nigeria in the 214 (1) of the 1999 Constitution 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” (Cleen Foundation 2009).

The Nigeria Police Force is the institution responsible for the safety, security of the general people of Nigeria along with keeping the peace in the country. Police has duty of providing service to the community as well as performing the paramilitary duties when necessary. “There is a definition of the duties of Nigeria Police Force in the Section 4 of police Laws, Cap 359 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990” (Cleen Foundation 2009). This is as follows:

the police shall be employed for the prevention and detection of crime, apprehension of offenders, the preservation of law and order, the protection of life, property, and due enforcement of all and regulations with which they are directly charged and perform such as military duties within and without Nigeria as may be required of them by, or under the authority of this or any other Act” (Cleen Foundation 2009).

There are some other duties to be performed by the police as well:

The objects of the Police service are to prevent, combat and investigate crime, to maintain public order, to protect and secure the inhabitants of the Republic and their property, and to uphold and enforce the law” (Barnard 2010).

If the duties of the Nigerian Police are presented in a precise way they will look like the following:

  • Apprehension of offenders,
  • Preservation of Law and order
  • Protection of lives
  • Protection of properties
  • Perform military duties within and without Nigeria
  • Looking after Traffic
  • Prevent, combat and investigate crime
  • Maintain public order” (Esharenana 2008).

Problems faced by the police in Nigeria as found out from the research

The objective of all the above discussions aimed at one thing which is to find out the problems faced by the Nigerian Police Force while trying to deal with crime. Why the criminals are able to give trouble to the police and why the police are not trusted by the people in general, all have their roots in the above discussion of the history and geography of the country, the history of the police force, the origin of crime and the duties of the police force.

The rate of crime is so high in Nigeria and the fear in the minds of the people is so deep seated that that they find the police department actually inefficient. There is a huge gap between the public and the police due to various reasons. The police are not integrated with the other parts of the society so the public also fumes over the harassments they have to face at various checkpoints. Tourists find it harsh on the part of police when they are by chance subjected to interact with the police. The police department also has certain internal problems which they are not still being able to overcome. Corruption is wide spread, bribery is common, motivation is low and they have to work under political pressure and other pressures too. In short the Nigerian Police has to face problems that are both within them and outside them (Yakabu 2006).

Though the police force is blamed for the situation getting worse and a poor image has been formed of the Nigeria Police it has to be understood that they also face huge challenges to fight with the problems in their work field. Just like the public feels harassed by the police due to security reasons the police also face a lot of problems due to the non cooperation of public. They also fall victims of ill treatment by the criminals and the public as well. The challenges or problems the Nigerian police force is facing can be divided into two sections; firstly, problems encountered from outside the police force and secondly, problems encountered within the police force.

Problems encountered from outside the police force

  • The vastness of the country aids in hiding – Nigeria being a vast country offers difficulty in dealing with crime taking place all over the country. Such a huge country which is the most populated in Africa offers a number of opportunities to criminals from neighbouring countries of Africa to travel to Nigeria and getting mingled with the Nigerian populations staying in the slums of overcrowded cities of the countries. That is definitely a tough situation for the police as along with the existing criminals the outsiders also contribute in the rise of the crime rate. The offenders from one state can also flee to other states.
  • Multi linguistic country helps in disguise – there are more than 500 languages in Nigeria which can easily be mastered by anyone seeking to hide after committing a crime. Nigerians and outsiders from other African countries can camouflage themselves.
  • Unemployment – Though this is an indirect reason it has its share to play in the process of increasing the number of criminals in the country. The police are quite busy with the existing criminals and any new advent in this field means a new hurdle for them.
  • Easy access to firearms to the criminals – Nigerian violent offenders get hold of firearms very easily and that is why they are not afraid of encountering the police or fighting with them. Police might have limitations in using firearms indiscriminately but the criminals don’t worry about that. That is indeed a big hurdle for the police.
  • Easy availability of bail to the criminals – The liberalization of bail granting procedures is another hurdle the police have to overcome. The police put a lot of effort to grab hold of a criminal and he manages to get a bail. After returning to freedom he takes revenge on the policemen who had arrested him earlier or starts committing crimes again with full vigour directing his wrath to the public.
  • Political pressure and guarding the elites – The Nigeria police had been formed in the colonial period and had served as the colonial rulers. The police were used as an instrument of oppression against the indigenous people. Till today the police are used as a means of crushing the oppositions by the rulers of the country. The police are seen to guard the VIPs or elites to provide security to them from crimes mainly and the normal people are left insecure. This kind of use of police is also a hurdle to the police force itself as this encourages crime rate to soar and deteriorates the image of police in the eyes of the community.
  • Understated rate of crime – The major reported crimes or high profile crimes consist of only 10% of the crimes in Nigeria. It is easily understandable how many crimes go unreported. If the police are not able to know about the crimes it is not possible for them to control them effectively (Olajide 2003).
  • Relation of police with public – The greatest challenge before the police is probably this one. Police, since it was formed in the colonial period has been used to suppress the voice of the people of Nigeria. Therefore they had become extremely unpopular with the general people. Corruption has been a problem in Nigeria high ranking officials in past and present also. Police was not an exception. They are charged with corruption, brutality, incivility and ineffectiveness by the people. This perception of police is common is most parts of the country but there are variations in the degree of this negativity. People of areas like “Lagos Island, Agege, Mainland, Mushin and Shomolu” (Esharenana 2008) have a more or less positive mentality about the performance of police while people living in “Alimosho, Apapa, Kosofe, Surulere and Ajeromi – Ifelodun” (Esharenana 2008) thought the negative way.

Due to this unhealthy relationship between the public and police the people of Nigeria don’t want to go to the police to report a crime and thus it remains understated. People fear of insensitivity in case of sensitive issues like the sexual offences or doubt the effectiveness to get back lost property.

One more fact which contributes to the growing distance between the police and the public is the violence between police and public. Police unleash violence on public on different occasions like “crowd control, arrest, detention and investigation”. This violence increases the hatred against police every time. Sometimes local groups of people and groups like the “Bakassi Boys or the Yoruba OPC retaliate by charging police personnel with various offences like aiding in robberies and lynch them violently” (Esharenana 2008). And, unfortunately this kind of lynching is greeted by people instead of condemned.

  • Police in comparison to crime is not covered by media enough – When a crime is committed it is covered by the media with so much interest because these kinds of news make sensation. In that comparison police is not that much focused upon. Police has the main responsibility to curb crime in the country. It is therefore necessary for the police to normally face the situation during investigating a crime.

Problems within the police force

The above stated problems are those which the police have to face from the outside factors. But there are numerous factors that are deep seated within them only which act as the big hurdles in their own path of performing duties.

  • The police lack adequate funding for the procedures of crime prevention, detection, investigation, communication and data gathering for any necessary research..
  • The police department is understaffed (Esharenana 2008).
  • Irregularities in the recruitment procedure of the police personnel which can be described as ‘improper, inefficient and sometimes corrupt’ leading to recruitment of personnel who are not proper eligible.
  • Inadequate length of training period results in dearth of skill in the police which obstructs their way while dealing with tough criminals.
  • Improperly designed training curricula which stresses mainly on ‘mechanistic’ teaching of law and police work, drill and paramilitary training.
  • Recruits are exposed to specific police stations and to ‘professional police officers’ only.
  • Insensitivity towards the general people and reluctance to deal with the reports registered by them.
  • Police is prone to the temporary successes of the ‘episodic raids’ rather than the systemic ones and reorientation programme for the police is also absent.
  • Police is prone to show unnecessary aggression leading to harsh behaviour with the public and destroying their own image. They have a tendency to show a ‘know – all – about – crime’ mentality.
  • Corruption is a widely accepted hurdle in the way of police to get success. Bribery is wide spread and sometimes charges of helping criminals are also there on police. The negative examples of the police sometimes provoke people not to keep the law as it is natural to think that when police is so corrupt there is no need to obey the law at all (Esharenana 2008).
  • Underpayment is one of the major concerns for the police. Along with that promotion, rank mobility is also discouraging. All these together create a non motivating working condition for the policemen. Sometimes frustration might come in the psychology of police personnel due to these factors resulting in unnecessary aggression.
  • Political interferences sometimes hinder the way of police even if there is will to take action in some cases (Femi 2001).

The research design: Descriptive, abstract and non experimental

The research on the topic ‘Problems experienced by police to control crime in Nigeria’ is a descriptive type of research in nature. The design was to form a general pattern of the background of Nigeria at first, citing all the relevant geographical and historical incidents and chain of events. As the topic was about crime it had been seen as a deep seated problem in the Nigerian society. Therefore study was done on the root causes of crimes, crime types and crime hit areas. All these proved to be linked with the root topic that which is experienced by the police to control crime. The history and duties of the police also were considered to find out the deviation of the police from their basic duty. After analyzing the collected data recommendations were made to tide over the problems. The research is non experimental in nature as there were no scope of generating data by using control groups or other experimental methods (Creswell 2003).

Qualitative Research methods

For conducting the research the qualitative research methodology was used. Qualitative research method was chosen over quantitative or mixed method because the topic was related to the activities of police which have direct impact on the society but there was no chance to compare any data with another to result in numerical values. The research was for finding out some factors which are troubling the police force which mainly involved reviews of existing literature instead of generating numerical data through field research and thus qualitative method proved to be the best option than quantitative or mixed ones (Yin 2003).

Secondary Research

The research has taken a descriptive non experimental research method for analyzing the research topic. The research has been conducted by collecting data from the existing literatures, news and articles, works of other researchers and other available data. It can be called as a secondary research. As the time for the research was limited, primary research in which data is collected by conducting direct methods like interviewing was not preferred. It is obvious that the direct method applied by the research worker like interviewing and sampling can yield interesting and varied data, but data collection conducted hurriedly when time is limited might result in low quality research findings. It is therefore better to review and analyze the existing data pool for a better research result. With purpose to conduct a solid research and yield effective research findings secondary research method was implemented.

Scope of the research

The research paper has sincerely tried to find out all the possible points in bringing forth the problems encountered by the Nigerian Police Force by exploring all the probable angles. The problems faced by the police are directly or indirectly related to the background of the country, its economy and political activities. The research took the way of finding out the hidden causes of the origin of crime in the past and how today the country is paying price for the mistakes made in the past. The research was done with a secondary method that is by reviewing and analyzing the already existing data, works of previous researchers and the articles and literatures available over the internet. Internet being a very rich source of information has provided detailed information about the various aspects of the country. With the help of the useful information the cause and origin of crime were easily figured out. Detailing of crime in turn proved useful to figure out the actual problems the police are facing and recommend the possible solutions of those problems. But the statistics were not much focused upon as the main concern was to discuss the hurdles of the police rather than providing the numeric data about increase or decrease in crime (Chukwuma and Odinkalu 2002).

The research has its own limitations also. Though the reasons of the origin of crime were discussed in detail, the research conducted dealt mainly with the general pattern of crime. The research did not focus on the crimes committed by separate genders separately. The main crimes in totality were considered. Different gender might have different causes of origin which stayed out of the consideration of the research. One more aspect not dealt within the research was the psychological aspect of both criminals and policemen. Psychology can play a great deal in somebody’s behaviour resulting in normal or unnatural behaviour. Likewise the mental state of a policeman can also result in the way he deals with crime. The average mental state of police force will have an impact on the performance of the police force. This aspect itself is so vast that it can result in a full research paper, so though mention has been made of the subject it is limited in the form of just an introduction.

Analysis of the research findings

The findings of the research bring forward several factors that act as the hindering objects or the problems working against the police force trying to deal with the problem. There are certain problems within the police department itself and there are certain problems coming from external sources. They are almost equal in proportion. Whatever the reason of problem is, the outcome is the same that is the upsurge of crime rate and citizens living in constant fear of victimized by the criminals (Chukwuma and Ifowodo 2007).

The main obstacle in the way of police has emerged to be the poor image they have created in front of the public due to the improper and corrupt behaviour. The situation has been worsened by the political condition which forces the police to focus on the security of the elite people leaving the general people unattended. Political uses of police for dominating over the opposition have also turned the image of police down to the public as the latter have grown the habit of showing unnecessary aggression. There are certain lenient laws like granting the bail of criminals which stand in the way of police as well. If corrupt practices are not curbed within the police force the situation will never improve (Theen 2001).

There is also need for motivating police as well. Low payment, lack of promotions etc make the job of police unsatisfactory which in turn take away the initiative from their work. Media does not focus on their problems and there is no other way that can provide proper impetus to their career. A sound and motivated mind is a must while performing some duty and police should take note of that.

The economic situation of the country is also a factor that keeps on increasing the problem of police in every way. Overcrowded slums in the big cities, unemployment and optimum condition add to the flourish of crime in the country. The police have enough problems dealing with the current ones and the new ones add to the misery only. One more factor is the ability of criminals from other countries of Africa to mingle and hide among the countrymen of Nigeria. It is really hard to track down those external people from within the multi –religion, multi – linguistic country (Coomassie 2004).

Crime data of Nigeria

One of the biggest breeding grounds of organized crimes and drug trafficking Nigerian criminal groups are real headaches for the governments. Nigeria is a transit point for heroin and cocaine which go to Europe, and Asian markets and also the North American market is one of the most favorite spots of the gangs. Nigeria is a safe heaven for all types of criminals as described by the CIA, and the narcolifters of Nigeria work worldwide. It is one of the most important money laundering centers of the World, where there is massive corruption and criminal activities (CIA 2010).

The most important type of crime in Nigeria is Drug trafficking. The rates of these crimes are going up in Nigeria in recent times. We will be giving some graphs later in our discussion to show the intensity of the drug related crimes in Nigeria.

Perceptions

Generally in the 1960s the intensity of these types of crimes was low throughout the country. The trades were dominated by cannabis and other derivatives of these types of drugs. But the scene changed thoroughly in the 1980s. But the 1980s changed the scene completely. (CLEEN Foundation 2010) African drugs were easily substituted by heroin and cocaine and other psychotropic drugs. They found the sources from the Indian sub continent and the market in United States and other European countries and also some Asian countries. The rate increased significantly in the 1990s. As there were many news of arrests the groups decided to move the drugs in a more complicated but a much safer way. More over, the drug peddlers also gained access to the South American drug corridors around the 90s.

Recently they started using more complex route and also using multiple carriers. A simple description of a drug peddler’s journey is as follows. He always has two passports. The Brazzaville/Abidjan route is the most convenient route to take drugs to Asia and Latin America. One passport is used while going and the other is for return journey. According to recent reports one of the most important drug routes in recent times is Nigeria- South Africa – Rio de Janerio. The emergence of South African drug dealers in the market in late 1990s have been a boom for their Nigerian counterparts and they have also made frequent bases in African countries like Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo and other small countries. The international police have reported that during 1994 to 96 there were 390 drugs related arrested among which there were 311 Nigerians and 686 peddlers among which there were 595 Nigerians. The three most important drugs in Nigeria are Cannabis (conventional African drug, the most supplied drug from Nigeria), heroin (according to reports every year around 81 kg heroin were seized from Nigeria to the World), and cocaine (in recent years 55 kg of cocaine only seized by the police, so one can imagine the amount that were supplied around the World) (CLEEN Foundation 2010).

Another important crime in Nigeria is Human Trafficking. The Nigerian Police force has reported that between March 1999 to April 2000 1126 women were trafficked. Also a survey shows that at least 4 girls in Nigeria are trafficked from Nigeria every month. Mainly they are sent too many European countries and other third World countries too.

Household Experiences

In a recent graph the domestic violence scenario of Nigeria is showing really frightening results: (CLEEN Foundation 2010)

Here we have to remember some thing. Nigeria was under military rule and it has got civil rules in the year 1999. But this has added up two very important problems for the country, corruption in every aspect of the life and also bad governance. According to many acknowledged persons, the main problem with Nigeria lies in the fact that in the country corruption rises from the power, as the people in the power use that for personal gains and it ultimately results in country wide corruption. The common country men are the most sufferers in all these cases.

One thing is very interesting in the aspect. Here in Nigeria, corruption and crime have become almost an acceptable way of life and this is one of the most devastating things to happen in a nation’s psyche (CLEEN Foundation 2010). Ultimately, in Nigeria, crime is becoming a rewarding career choice for teenagers. In the following chart we can see the motivations behind crimes in Nigeria:

Performance of Law Enforcement

And the other graph shows the performance of the law and order agencies of the country and it will clearly show the situation of crime in Nigeria: (CLEEN Foundation 2010)

Other than that there are several gangs present in Nigeria. And in recent times the gangs are engaged in a bloody war to take the control of the streets are also attacking the police forces and killing without any questions. Lagos, which is the commercial capital of Nigeria, is one of the worst hit places in the country. Official statistics show that only in Laos, in the last six months 273 civilians and 84 police personal were killed and more than 130 police personal were severely injured. With really sophisticated arms and also huge manpower the gangs are providing a new direction in the organized crime scene of Nigeria.

Location

As we have discussed that crime is becoming a profession in Nigeria, it is also showing its effects on the total structure of the country. Excess of crime leads to corruption and the general collapse of the structural unity of a country and that is exactly what happening in Nigeria. Due to the unemployment problems many are generally turning to crimes. The most important aspects of the crime in Nigeria are that the criminals have made strong bases every where in the country and it is really tough to uproot the bases by the police and the officials. Along with the corruption running along the Government will also add to the difficulties to control the situation. The organizations like NATO and Red Cross are also helping the Nigerian Government with their forces and other resources, but still now there is no significant success. The country needs a throughout change to wipe out the widespread malice of corruption from their lives (CLEEN Foundation 2010).

According to CIA, Nigeria is:

a transit point for heroin and cocaine intended for European, East Asian, and North American markets; consumer of amphetamines; safe haven for Nigerian narcotraffickers operating worldwide; major money-laundering center; massive corruption and criminal activity; Nigeria has improved some anti-money-laundering controls, resulting in its removal from the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF’s) Noncooperative Countries and Territories List in June 2006; Nigeria’s anti-money-laundering regime continues to be monitored by FATF ” (CIA 2010).

Recommendation

Though the situation is grave there are steps that can be taken to help out the police force to tide over the problems. The recommended steps include reforms within the police force itself along with the social reforms. Political leaders and rulers need to take the matter seriously to implement changes in those sectors so that the present situation is improved and the citizens are able to feel integrated with the police and are able to feel confident and safe against crime (Soyinka 2000).

  • The first step should be taken to motivate the police personnel by re arranging the total structure of the police department which would encourage better promotion and rank mobility.
  • There is an ardent need to improve the salary structure by making the fees attractive. To some extent this will help to curb the habit of accepting bribes.
  • Lack of training and specific skills sometimes can prove fatal. So there should be a revised training curriculum providing training for the adequate period and whenever necessary on specialized fields.
  • The police department should recruit adequate number of staff in a fair way so that the eligible candidates get the better chance to make a better police force.
  • Efforts should be made to help the policemen to curb unnecessary aggression through various counselling and if necessary psychological orientation.
  • Police should treat the reports registered by the people with sensitivity and lessen significantly the harshness in the behaviour while dealing with the common people and avoid any kind of violence against them. That would help them to come near the public and get cooperation from them (Forrest 2002).
  • Political pressure should be removed from the police to perform suppression against the opposition of the ruling party and they should not be forced to guard the VIPs heavily leaving the public without any protection.
  • Police must get rid of the corrupt practices. Corrupt officials should be removed and the department should set example of fair behaviour in all aspects.
  • Unemployment, intrusion from other countries and rapid urban growth are not going to go easily. But efforts in piecemeal have to be made to help out police by reducing the origin of newer offenders (Esharenana 2008).

Conclusions

The people of Nigerian had seen limitless violence throughout the journey to the present. Clashes between ethnic and religious groups are nothing unusual for them and unfortunately these occur even today regarding different issues. In the period of colonization fights for independence was fought. But the real bloodbath was witnessed by the country after independence. The country has passed the phase of civil war spanning over a period of three years killing a million of people including the innocent civilians. In the military era back to back coups and countercoups had destroyed the peace of the country totally. After seeing so much blood shed the country is now witnessing violence in the “forms of robbery, murders and other armed crimes” (Esharenana 2008).

The crime rate touched their highest point in the 1980s when the crime taking place took almost the form of an epidemic. Lagos, being a big city and a centre of numerous economic activities, was a centre of violent crimes also. That was the time when military rule was going on in the country and normal citizens were left somewhat unprotected. Lack of facilities and services for the people coupled with deprivation and any kind of law and order enforcements left the whole country totally disorganized. Corruption was at its highest and police being inefficient was actually busy to suppress the statistics of crime. They were mostly working with the offenders either to help them or to engage in criminal activities themselves. The situation aggravated to that extent that foreign people staying there in order to work or tourists travelling to Nigeria are not at all spared by the criminals from committing the violent crimes (Williams 2009).

People then also had complaints against the Nigerian Police force and they still have many. Police is charged with “inefficiency, understaffing, being poorly equipped and poorly trained” (Esharenana 2008). They are also charged with harassing the innocent citizens and tourists by blocking roads and the check points are still the most notorious problems recognized by people during travels.

Consequence of crime anywhere is not good anyway, be it is Nigeria or any other place. But for a crime hit country like Nigeria the consequences are more dire and pervasive. Crime forces the victims to incur loss of either life or property or both. Not only in houses and on roads, crimes take place even in the sacred places like the Mosques, Churches and cemeteries. People enclose their homes in very high metal fences in an effort to make their homes safer. “Nigerians are said to sleep with their one eye open” (Esharenana 2008).

Crime leaves behind a chain of consequence both for the offender and the victims. A victims and the victim’s family face “the loss of property, physical harm and psychological draw backs” (Esharenana 2008). Constant “feeling of insecurity, fear of harm, sense of loss, mistrusts on the community members” (Esharenana 2008) is the psychological changes a victim of crime experiences. But the perpetrator of the crime and his family also suffers “certain psychological and economical” consequences. The offender suffers “job loss, alienation, reduced property values, trial, attorney bill” (Esharenana 2008) etc. Crime never does any good to anybody except bringing in unrest in the society. So to build up a mentally stable society the rate of crime has to be brought down. The responsibility lies on the Nigerian police (Brick 2003).

However, the Nigerian police force is charged with the protection of lives and properties of the people of the country. Formed in the colonial era the police have practiced suppression over the public which some how still persists in their behaviour. The police are aggressive but the aggression has not been able to control the crime rate in the country. They are accused of corruption and inefficiency, the relation of people with the Nigerian police is frustrating. But it has to be remembered that the police are also facing certain hurdles while dealing with crime. They are taking certain steps to improve the condition already and have succeeded to some extent. The situation can be improved by taking certain steps (Igun 2009). The only need is of the cooperation from all the sectors concerned.

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