The police play important roles without which the sustenance of order, legality, development and democracy may be difficult. Therefore, any pro-poor change initiative must take account of the facilitative and inhibitive roles, of the police in society. The primary role of police is policing - securing compliance with existing laws and conformity \\ith precepts of social order. But the police are not the only agency involved  in policing, in the broad sense of the term. Policing has always been necessary in ,ill societies for the preservation of order, safety and social relations. The necessity of policing becomes even more evident in modern societies characterized by diversities and contradictions arising from population heterogeneity, urbanization, industrialization, conflicting ideologies on appropriate sociopolitical and economic form of organization. However, the emergence of the police, a body of men recruited and paid the state to enforce law and maintain order, is a recent development in human history (Reiner. 2000).   

Traditional, policing was the responsibility of all adults in community. In medieval society, all adult males are obliged to contribute towards the prevention and control of crime and disorder under the systems of ‘hue, cry and pursuit' and the "watch and ward that preceded the emergence of specialized police forces as organs of the state. But the emergence of the state, with its vast bureaucracies anchored on centralization, hierarchical authority/power structure, and professional staff (Weber 1968) changed the traditional policing philosophy rooted in the idea of policing as everybody's business. I he emergence of the state as an entity with claim to the monopoly over the means of legitimate violence in society (Weber 1968) resulted into the creation of specialized agencies such as the police and the armed forces for controlling the use of violence by other groups. According to Susan Martin (1990:6):
Police work invokes a variety of tasks and responsibilities. Officers are expected to present crime, protect life and property, enforce the laws, maintain peace and public order, and provide a wide range of services to citizens ... A common trend unifying these diverse activities, however, is that potential for violence and the need and right to use coercive means in order to establish social control (Bitner. 1970). Understanding that the police act as the representatives of the coercive potential of the state and the legitimate users of force helps explain a number of their attitudes and characteristics.
Broadly, modern police forces are assigned the primary duty of law enforcement and order maintenance. But the content of law and what constitute order vary widely across time and nations, and are determined by the political economy of societies. The concrete roles played by the police are defined by law and conception of order in accordance \\ith the political and economic interests of the dominant or ruling groups in society Robert Reiner (1993) stresses this point:

Modern societies are characterized by what can be termed police fetishism the ideological assumption that the police are a functional prerequisite of social order so that without a police force chaos would ensure. In fact, many societies have existed without a formal police force of any kind, and certainly without the present model. ... It is important to distinguish between the ideas of 'police' and 'policing'. 'Police' refers to a particular kind of social institution, while "policing" implies a set of processes with specific social functions. 'Police are not found in every society, and police organizations and personnel can have a variety of shilling forms. 'Policing', however, is arguably a necessity in any social order, which may be carried out by a number of different processes and institutional arrangements. A state-organized specialist police organization of the modern is only one example (emphasis added).
The police are agents of the state, established for the maintenance of order and enforcement of law. Therefore, like the state, the character, roles and priority of police forces arc determined by the political and economic structures of their nations. Similarly the form and activities of policing by state and non-state agencies are also dependent on the character and composition of the political economy of society. The tasks of police are dictated by the contradictions and conflict of interests among groups and classes in society which if not regulated can threaten the preservation of the prevailing social order or status quo . In very substantive ways, the police mirror the contradictions and conflicts as well as human cooperation in society. According to Coatman (1958:8)
... A student of the political institutions of any country desirous of understanding the "ethos" of an\ country's government can hardly do better than make a close study of its police system, which will provide him with a good measuring rod of the actual extent to which its government is free or authoritarian. I he political economy frame of analysis is therefore appropriate to the analysis of police and policing in any society. There are different political economy models of analysis. However, there are common grounds among them, the principal ones being
(I) that there is intricate linkages between political and economic structures of society:
(2) That the political and economic structures of u society determine its general values., cultures and norms as well as the direction and practice of governance, and
(3) That a more robust analysis of society is provided by an understanding of the linkages between the economy and polity and their dialectical interrelations with other structures and social institutions.
The most popular strand of political economy is the Marxist model. Its main argument is summarized by the famous statement by Karl Marx in the Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political economy        (1970). According to Marx:
Between political and economic crises, and policing. In analyzing the structure, roles. performance and problems of 'police and policing in the country. there is need to adopt a theoretical frame of analysis that account for the structural (political economy) and institutional (police functional management) factors. A discussion of police and policing in the country during the colonial and post-colonial periods within such a framework follows .
The British colonization of the different societies that presently) constitute Nigeria began in 1961 from the territory of Lagos. By 1903, the British colonizers had succeeded in colonizing all the nearly four hundred nationalities in the country (Otite 1990). The colonizers executed the colonial project employing violence and fraud or deceits. Scholars ha\e documented the history of police forces in Nigeria from the beginning of colonialism in 1861 to the present (Tamuno 1970; Ahire 1991. 1993:Rotimi 1993: Alemika I993a). This therefore need not detain us here. The establishment of police forces in colonial Nigeria reflected administrative policy and concerns. The indirect rule system \vas adopted as a means of reducing the cost of miming the colonial bureaucracy. Police forces were therefore established along the lines dictated b\ the indirect rule policy. According to Tamuno ( 1970:90): The Native Authority Ordinance (No. 4 of 1916) conferred on the Native Authorities the responsibility for maintaining order in their respective areas. Under  it, they \\ere allowed to prevent crime and arrest offenders by employing any person to assist them in carrying out their police duties. Their police powers \\erc increased under the. Protectorate Laws (Enforcement) Ordinance (no. 15 1924).
There is need to recognize and comprehend three important historical factors that have shaped the development and character of police forces and police    public relations in Nigeria. First, colonial conquest of Nigerian nationalities took place piecemeal over a long period ( I86I-I903). Nigeria's constituent nationalities were conquered at different period. .\s a nationality is conquered a British colonial presence is established by creating a police force for the territory. Second, violence and fraud were employed in the conquest of the nationalities and police forces under various names were established and employed as instrument of violence and oppression against the indigenous population. Third, given the character of colonial rule, police forces were the instrument used to sustain the alien domination.
The significance or these three factors is that during the colonial era the police were not accountable to the colonized but to the colonizers and their excesses against the community were not controlled. As a result, the colonial police forces behaved as 'army of occupation", killing and maiming, and looting. These three features of colonialism, led the public to regard colonial police forces as their enemy, and as instrument of violence and subjugation: as extortionists and harbingers of bad news and trouble. The perceptions of police by the people were grounded in their experience of the use of the military and constabulary forces during the earlier phase of colonial campaign in
various areas of the country such as Opobo. Benin. Niger confluence. Tamuno (1970, chapter) provides detailed account of the use of colonial police forces to violently suppress workers" strike (1945. 1947. 1949). and Women's riots ( 1929 - 1930: 1948)

Well as communal riots in Kano (1953) and Tiv land (1959 - I960) resulting in deaths and destruction of property. Ever since successive police forces and governments in the country have frequently likewise deployed the police.  The character and impact of colonial political economy on policing and police were incisively  captured by Onoge(l993:178) as follows:
The burden of colonial policing was the subordination of the national interests of the people to the political and economic interest of the state. Through armed patrols, raids, arrests and detention, the colonial police protected the colonial economy by policing labour. Through the enforcement of unpopular direct taxation, the raiding of labour camps, and the violent suppression of strikes, the police ensured the creation, supply and discipline of the proletarian labour force required h\ colonial capitalism.

There is need for a clarification of the general impression held in this country about the services provided by the departments of police and Prisons. You will therefore have to examine the factors which have contributed in producing a distorted image of the machinery for police administration in the minds of the Nigerian public and formulate concrete proposals for correcting any deficiencies. Similarly, Prisons administration appear defective in certain respects.
There are far too many local authorities maintaining shabby and ill-equipped maintained at the expense of other essential services from which the general community could benefit immensely. It would be a more rational policy for local authorities to concentrate on development schemes which are designed to improve their communities rather than dissipate their energies and resources in maintaining ill-equipped organizations for police and prisons administration which could be better serviced by a central government authority.

Harassment and loss of personal liberties in the hands of the police and sundry state “intelligence” and security agencies in the country (Alemika 1993b: 208). Police repression (especially extra-judicial killings) did not abate after an elected government came to power on May 29, 1999. a press statement by the Force Police Public Relations Officer, in early January 2001 showed that from 15 August to 19 December 2000, 134 person were killed by armed robbers while 320 others were injured: 88 policemen were injured and 29 other were killed by the robbers.
During the same period, however, the police killed 348 robbery suspects. 6 an official police publication in Nigeria reported that: in a five year period of 1996 – 2000 some 10,345 armed robbery cases were reported nationwide, which led to the arrest of 13,365 suspects in the same period.   
A total of 2.201 of the armed hoodlums lost their lives in gun battle with the police as against 381 policemen killed by robbers while another 822 policemen sustained injury within the period under review 7       

Police corruption is another major hindrance to positive contribution toward pro-poor change initiatives. Corruption and extortion are widespread among the members of the Nigerian police force and have soiled their image. While corruption is endemic in all segments of the Nigerian society, it is particularly objectionable among the police because it is their occupational responsibility to prevent and work at its elimination.     
Alemika (1999:10) agues that: police corruption elicit serious concern for three significant reasons. First, the police are expected to be moral as well as law enforcement agents. If the police which are employed to prevent and detect corruption, and bring culprits to corruption is guaranteed to fail. Second, the police exercise powers that have profound implications for the life, property, safety and freedoms of citizens. Where the exercise of such powers in contraindicated by corrupt motives, the citizens feel exceedingly vulnerable, insecure and powerless. Third, police corruption is often tantamous to extortion, a form of robbery or demand with force. These dimensions of police corruption explains why the public is threatened by such practices. The most significant source of negative police community relation is corruption motive is also a source of police individuals to succumb to demands for bribes, and at some other time, it is a 6 the guardian (Nigeria) January 5, 2001, back page           
As a result of the history and character of police and policing in the country, since the colonial era, the nation’s police force continues to be confronted with failures in the following areas:-
1.                  effectiveness and efficiency in the prevention and control of crime, in the detection apprehension and prosecution of offenders
2.                  Scrupulous observance of the rule of law;
3.                  Recognition and protection of the dignity and rights of citizens.
4.                  accountability of the citizens;
5.                  civility and incorruptibility

Adeyemi, A. A. (1993) “Information Management for National Development  Planning and Security” in T. N. Tamuno; I. L. Bashir:      E. E. O. Alemika and A. O. Akano eds. Policing Nigeria: Past,           Present and Future (Lagos: amalthouse Press limited)

Ahire, P. T. (1991) Imperial Policing Milton Keynes: Open University         Press Ahire, P. T. (1993) “Native Authority Police in Northern       Nigeria: End of an Era” in T. N. Tamuno et al eds. Police Nigeria.      

Akano, A. O. (1993) “The Police, Rule of Law and Human rights: The          Police perspective” in T. N. Tamuno et al eds. Policing Nigeria.
Alemika E. E. O. (2003) forthcoming) “Police, Policing and Rule of Law     in Transitional Countries”. In Lone Lindholt et al. Eds Police, Rule        of Law in Transitional societies Denmark centre for human rights and Kluwer Publishers.

Alemika, E. E. O. (1999) “Police Community Relations in Nigeria: What     Went Wrong: Paper Presented at the Seminar on Role and             Function of the Police in a Post-Military Era. Organized by the             centre for Law Enforcement Education in Nigeria (CLEEN), and       the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) at the Savannah      Suite, Abuja F. C. T, from 8th to 10th March.   

Ayoola G. B. et al (2001) “Nigeria: Voices of the Poor” in World      Development Report 2000/2001.        
Share on Google Plus


The publications and/or documents on this website are provided for general information purposes only. Your use of any of these sample documents is subjected to your own decision NB: Join our Social Media Network on Google Plus | Facebook | Twitter | Linkedin