Nigeria -Police And It’s Colonial Mentality.
August 17, 2010
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Nigerian Police Vehicle
A creation of the colonial government,the Nigerian police began life as a consular guard which was expected to protect and facilitate colonialism.It was more of an occupation than a citizen force.It’s orientation and training,were not geared towards securing the approval and respect of the indigenous populace.Instead,the colonial police was an instrument for the subjugation of the people,as it was deployed to strike fear into the hearts of the people.In it’s dealings with the people,it favoured the use of maximum force rather seeking the co-operation of the public,through appeals and persuasion.It’s vision and character,could not have been more different from the police force that Robert Peel envisioned and founded many years ago(1829).
The tragedy is that almost 50 years after independence,the mentality of the police has not really changed.It still acts like an occupation force which must intimidate and subdue the “enemy”.In fact,having lost any sense of decency that it might have had under the colonial masters,as the larger society itself has grown more corrupt and decadent,it is now even more brutal,aggressive and reckless towards the public than ever.Examples of it’s hostility towards the public abound:beating people,extortion,checkpoint violence and harassment,”accidental discharge”,usurping the role of the judiciary in punishing and incarcerating people,at the behest of the wealthy or those who can pay for it,e.t.c.Unless there is a fundamental change in the mentality of the police,gratuitous police related violence and deaths will continue to be our lot.
As well as improving the quality of the personnel,great emphasis should be placed on the re-orientation of the police.The police must be indoctrinated to recognize that they are members of the public.One of the principles of policing enunciated by Robert Peel,was that “the police are the public and the public are the police,the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence”.The police need to be friendly in it’s relations with the public,choosing favour and seeking co-operation with the public in fulfillment of it’s duties.If the government puts it’s mind to it,it can turn the police around.The blame for the shortcomings of the police,therefore,lies at the government’s door.