CAUSES AND EFFECTS OF INSECURITY IN NIGERIA: THE CHALLENGES AND RELEVANCE OF THE NIGERIAN POLICE FORCE AS A PANACEA

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CAUSES AND EFFECTS OF INSECURITY IN NIGERIA: THE CHALLENGES AND RELEVANCE OF THE NIGERIAN POLICE FORCE AS A PANACEA

CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION

  • BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

In recent times, Nigeria has witnessed an unprecedented plaque of crisis and insecurity, each leading to loss of lives and destruction of properties. According to Ezeoha (2011:38) in Causes and effects of insecurity in Nigeria, “Security means stability and continually of livelihood, predictability of relationships, feeling safe and belonging to a social group. Internal security, or IS, which is related to security can be seen as the act of keeping peace within the borders of a sovereign state or other self-governing territories. This is done generally by upholding the national law and defending against internal security threats. Those responsible for internal security may range from police to paramilitary forces, and in exceptional circumstances, the military itself.

Insecurity on the other hand, is the antithesis of security which is the concept of insecurity. It has been ascribed different interpretations in association with the various ways which it affects individuals. Some of the common descriptors of insecurity include: want of safety; danger; hazard; uncertainty; want of confidence; doubtful; inadequately guarded or protected; lacking stability; troubled; lack of protection; and unsafe, to mention a few. All of these have been used by different people to define the concept of insecurity. These different descriptors, however, run into a common reference to a state of vulnerability to harm and loss of life, property or livelihood. Beland (2005) defined insecurity as “the state of fear or anxiety stemming from a concrete or alleged lack of protection.” It refers to lack or inadequate freedom from danger.

In the same token, Oshodi (2011) argues that one sure way of tackling the insecurity situation in Nigeria is to accord the field of psychology a pride of place in policy formulation and implementation to promote national cohesion and integration.

However it can be clearly stated that Nigeria has remained more insecure especially during and after the April 2011 presidential elections and has suffered more than ever in history, a battery of ethno-religious-political crises, taking the shape of bomb blasts sponsored by the Boko Haram religious sect.

The unparalleled spate of terrorism, kidnappings and other violent crimes is to say the least, alarming. Religious leaders, churches, mosques etc are not spared in this onslaught. There is no gainsaying the fact that Nigeria is at a cross-road and gradually drifting towards a failed state if this insecurity trend continues.

According to Bavier, a writer who is a frequent visitor to the northern region, told CNN that the

Federal government has completely lost control of the north-east, despite deploying thousands of troops and establishing a Joint Task Force. Now, he says, it looks like this insurgency has broken out of the north-east”. And what’s worrying, he says, is that there’s “not a whole lot of visible effort from the federal government to calm things down (Lister, 2012:14).

From the aforementioned one can posit that Nigeria has witnessed an unprecedented level of insecurity. Inter and intra- communal and ethnic clashes, ethno religious violence, armed robbery, assassination, murder, gender-based violence, and bomb explosion have been on the increase leading to enormous loss of life and property and a general atmosphere of siege and social tension for the populace (Ibrahim and Igbuzor, 2002:2). Furthermore between 2009 to date over 3,000 souls both military and civilians have been lost in the purported “holy” crusade; this have further paralyzed government plans in mapping out an efficient strategy in combating insecurity. Despite soaring security budget, insecurity still pervades the country.

Consequently, Insecurity has taken various forms in different parts of the country. In the South-West, armed robbers have taken over, while in the North, cross-border bandits operate with the ease. However in the South-South there are rampant cases of kidnapping. Also the incessant wave of crime and armed robbery attacks, all point to the fact that insecurity is fast becoming a norm in Nigeria and have somewhat suddenly become attractive to certain individuals in seeking to resolve issues that could have ordinarily been settled through due process. The end-products lead to the decimation of innocent lives, disruption of economic activities, and destruction of properties among others.

Just last year and early this year, the Emir of Kano-Alhaji Ado Bayero narrowly escaped death by the whiskers. His driver and two others were not lucky as they were hacked to death by the assailants. Somewhere in Okene, Kogi State, gunmen said to be sympathetic to the Cause of Islamic rebels in Mali were said to have ambushed and opened fire and killed two soldiers on their way to been deployed to Mali. A faceless new group known as ‘Vanguard for the Protection of Moslems in Black Africa” has claimed responsibility for this attack. Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela’s mother-Prof. Mrs. Kaneme Okonjo was also kidnapped a while ago. It took a demonstration of federal might-deployment of troops for her abductors to free her. Also of recent the mother of Bayelsa State House of Assembly was also kidnapped. These are prominent cases; so many other incidents go unreported probably because the victims lack a voice.

In an interview with Guardian Newspaper in united kingdom, marking late Prof. Chinua Achebe’s 80th Birthday, he was quoted as saying, “Nigeria is on the brink of a precipice” and that “we urgently have to face up to our responsibilities before it is too late”.

Accordingly, Ogebe (1991) observed that the current problems facing Nigeria is not the only rising incidence in crimes, but also the gradual shift in the categories of crimes committed from less serious to a more serious and heinous crimes of violence. This poses a great challenge to the police as well as raises questions of the police accountability and effectiveness.

The Nigerian police have been highly criticized for its inability to stem the rising tide of crimes in Nigeria because of series of endemic problems in recruitment, training and discipline and lack expertise in specialized fields. Corruption and dishonesty is also widespread in the police force thereby engendering a low level of public confidence by the public, leading to failure to report crimes, and tendencies to resort to self-help by the public. Ash (1971) observed that perhaps the police performance has been entirely dissatisfactory because there is confusion concerning what police men actually do on the job and what they reasonably can be expected to do to achieve a more effective police force. The range of services that police provide are vast and crime prevention account for only 20 to 30 percent of police work. In many cities today police work often seem to consist mainly of reaction to emergencies. It sometimes appears that the original emphasis on crime prevention has been lost (Awake, 2000). This has greatly accounted for the alarming rate of crimes in the country.

Corroborating the aforementioned, a total of sixteen (16) policemen were arrested of recent in Gusau, the Zamfara State capital by the Inspector General of Police Anti-robbery Squad for allegedly releasing Police weapons and ammunition to armed robbers terrorising people of the state. The affected police officers are from various ranks, especially Inspectors and Sergeants attached to Zamfara State Police Command. In the same vein, the squad arrested a retired military officer based in Gusau who specialized in selling ammunition and other sophisticated weapons meant for the security personnel in the state to armed robbers and people of Plateau and Kaduna States.

Subsequently, Aside from the bad eggs in the Nigerian police force, the poor welfare of the police, military and paramilitary personnel, with lack of adequate working tools, inadequate personnel is another factor that promotes insecurity in Nigeria. Olonisakin (2008:20) captures this when he posited that the police- population ratio in Nigeria is 1:450. At a minimum, citizens ought to have easy access to the police and feel safer as a result of the protection they offer. Yet Nigeria has failed to meet the standard set by the United Nations for effective policing.

Today the incidence of police brutality, corruption, violence murder and abuse of power has punctuated almost every aspect of the society. Armed robbery in Nigeria operate almost freely in the society, using deadly weapons without being challenged and detected by the police and where the police are dully informed, they give flimsy excuse that they do not have weapons to fight armed robbers. Even the ordinary man on the street who is expected to be supportive of the police often have serious misgiving when confronted with the massive mutual aids granted to the criminals by the police force. Apart from the aforementioned, Incidence of shooting of innocent people in retaliation to policing policies has also constituted a serious problem that has impeded police efforts in crime prevention in Nigeria.

Research have shown that most of police work is taken up in responding to crime after it has taken place and the police force do not have the resources to intervene in the circumstances which lead to crimes being committed. The traditional approaches to crime prevention also do little to address the causes of crime. They assume that the high rate of crime is inevitable and that the public must endeavor to defend itself against it.

  • STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Insecurity which is a feature of the Hobbesian state of nature, when life was said to be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short, and the weak and common man lived at the mercy of the strong. This trend is exactly the case in the country today, if not close. According to Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) In his book entitled Leviathan and published in 1651, he explicitly stated that in the state of nature nothing can be considered just or unjust, and every man must be considered to have a right to all things, even the right to take other people’s lives. Hobbes says that the State of Nature is a hypothetical state of affairs existing prior to the formulation of ‘society’ (which arises with the signing of the hypothetical ‘Social Contract’).In the State of Nature, Hobbes thinks everyone acts selfishly. He calls it a war of all against all.

The book looks at the structure of the society and legitimate government, and is regarded as one of the earliest and most influential examples of social contract theory. Leviathan ranks as a classic western work on statecraft comparable to Machiavelli’s The Prince. Written during the English Civil War (1642-1651), Leviathan argues for a social contract and rule by an absolute sovereign. Hobbes wrote that civil war and situations identified with a state of nature and the famous motto Bellum omnium contra omnes (“the war of all against all”) could only be averted by

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