It is no newer to the Nigerian fellow regarding the brutality of the Police force, persistent public outcry has failed to stem the tide of extra-judicial killings by the police. The unfortunate scenario is the police now kill themselves, the Nigeria policing needs to be revisited. A thorough prosecution and sanction of police personnel found guilty of murder should not only reside in the books, but it should also be implemented. Of course, in recent times, the IGP of Police and tried his best to maintain decency in the force. However, consistent training should be done to engage the force including a psychological test. To teach this force, ethics regarding public pressure.
In recent times, few policemen were seen beating a lady in Osun for not using the facemasks. Not only that, a reckless police officer also murdered a girl in Lagos in her house. This is becoming alarming. This killing is just a few out of many. Before now, police personnel has been involved in reckless and brutal killings of innocent citizens. This tragic insane act of police has been captured by the Amnesty International report, which is titled “Nigeria police kills at will”. The body documented cases of torture and shooting of suspects.
These brutalities are often meted out to the citizens, under different guises. The police personnel shoots at citizens who fail to oblige them a bribe on demand. This could be as little as N100. Thus, rather than protect the citizens the police have turned their guns on Nigerians. Therefore, there is an urgent need to make the Nigeria Police personnel revert to their primary duty of protecting the citizens. To be sure, the leadership of the Nigeria Police may have tried at different times to instill discipline and steer men and officers from the path of routine killings of innocent citizens. But such efforts have not been too successful. For instance, even though different inspectors-general of police have warned their officers against mounting roadblocks, this practice continues. In fact, most of the extortions and extra-judicial killings take place at illegal roadblocks mounted by police personnel.
The police need re-orientation from their fixation on violence. Such re-orientation should begin at the point of recruitment when the emphasis should be placed on character. But this has not been possible over the years because the recruiters who ought to administer the character test are themselves sometimes worse in corruption than the recruits. Sad tales of applicants who pay bribes in order to be enlisted into the police are commonplace. Even though some of the personnel have university degrees, they need re-education; and their values should be changed through regular training. The culture of brutality against citizens is so deeply entrenched that all the different units of the police are guilty of it: the regular police, mobile police, traffic police, among others. New curricula in police training schools should reflect the ethos of the society, the importance of Nigeria in the life of a police officer, contentment, character, and a well-defined guiding philosophy of the country.
One way the police can check the escalation of the Police brutality is to restrict the use of arms to special units and those who deal with the public should not be allowed to carry arms indiscriminately. Those who deal with the public should be trained in unarmed combat and the use of communication technology as well as less-lethal weapons like pepper spray. In this regard, they would only need to send for reinforcement from their armed colleagues in situations they cannot handle without arms.
Police brutality most times involves the rank and file but it is obvious that the culture of impunity in the police has been sustained by the complicity of the superiors. In most cases, it is the divisional police officers and even higher authorities that shield their junior officers from investigation and prosecution. And in many cases, these superior officers are known to share from the reward of the crime of their junior officers. Thus, for a change of values to be effective in the police, senior officers must model good behavior, sanction their erring officers, end the era of shielding men and maintain core values of policing.
The welfare package of the police as it exists today is certainly not an incentive for optimal performance. The police personnel is poorly remunerated and some even pay for their own uniforms and kits. The inadequate funds that the government makes available for their welfare are further fraudulently depleted by some superior officers. In the rare cases where they are accommodated in barracks, the living conditions are deplorable. And because they are few compared to the population, they are overworked. All these conditions imbue the rank and file with psychology that sees the citizens as their enemies. In this regard, the government should ensure that the police personnel is properly kitted, well remunerated and their post-retirement welfare fully guaranteed.
Ultimately, for the country to get effective policing, it must embrace true federalism and the police must be decentralized.