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General Introduction

1.1    Background of the study 

The phenomenon, “crime” has been a major subject of private and public concern throughout human history. No society is free of crime. However, the question often asked is that even if crime is part of inevitable human behaviour, how much of it can a society tolerate? This question is linked to man’s natural instinct for survival, the ability to respond to any threat to his life and property. Crime poses such a threat, particularly in its violent form. 

 The recent upsurge in violent crimes in Nigeria has created enormous uncertainty in the security of lives and property of individuals and of social stability in general. The incidents of traditional crimes such as armed robbery, arson, drug trafficking and abuse, murder, kidnapping, rape, hired assassinations and ritual killings are examples of the most serious and violent crimes which have been on the increase in the recent past. Correspondingly, White Collar Crimes in the form of Advance Fee Fraud (popularly, known as 419), contract deals, embezzlement and mismanagement in both the public and private sectors are also on the increase. The aggregate of the traditional crimes mostly committed by the less privileged and white collar crimes mostly committed by the highly placed call for a change in the strategies for the prevention and control of crime in Nigeria,

 The existing patterns in criminal activities show that criminals are getting more organized, sophisticated and brutal in the manner they carry out their dastardly acts, either in the way they physically attack individuals with dangerous weapons or the method they use in taking advantage of their official positions to steal and stash away millions of public funds in foreign and domestic accounts. Equally worrisome is the new dimension in organized criminal behaviour in Nigeria involving acts of terrorism and sabotage against individuals and public places. Recent incidents, in which some individual were stalked and eventually trapped in the volley of bullets from assault weapons, depict the viciousness of violent criminals. These acts are usually well-planned, orchestrated, syndicated and organized in the mafia-type fashion. In addition to these new patterns of violent crimes against persons, there is also the equally disturbing criminal behaviour against the Nigerian economy leading to the collapse of financial institutions and government parastatals. In short, we are witnessing the emergences of dangerous trends in the nation’s social and economic well-being. 

Three bodies are responsible for the administration of criminal justice in Nigeria. These bodies are: the Courts, the Police and Prisons. This research focuses on the police functions in the administration of justice and the manner in which such functions are carried out.

The primary functions of the police are detection and prevention of crime as well as preservation of law and order. The police has constitutional powers of ensuring the prevalence of law and order and the preservation of public peace.

 The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria confer on the police force powers and duties for effective oversight and accountability[1] 

         Similarly, the Police Act charge the force with the general duties


i.        The protection of life and property  ii.      Detection and prevention of crime; iii.   Apprehension of offenders;

iv.          Preservation of law and order 

v.           The due enforcement of law regulations with which they are directly charged.

vi.          Performance of such other military duties within and without Nigeria as may be required of them by or under the authority of any other Act. [2]

 The law has clothed the Nigeria Police with enviable powers in the sphere of administration of justice, preservation of law, order and maintenance of national tranquility. The section from the 1999 Constitution provides that the Police shall be organized and administered in accordance with such provisions as may be prescribed by the Act of the National Assembly. In exercise of the constitutional powers conferred on the National Assembly, the National Assembly enacted the Police Act.

 In the exercise of its primary powers, the Police also act in other spheres which are necessarily incidental to the exercise of the actual powers of the police. For instance, in the exercise of the primary duty of the police under section 4 of the Police Act, the Act gives the Police the power of public prosecution.[3] By these powers, the police can charge and prosecute any person suspected to have committed a crime before any court of law in Nigeria.[4] 

 In the bid to create a favourable condition for the discharge of the duty of the police; the Police Act has also given the police the power to arrest any person suspected to have committed a crime with or without warrants.[5] The Police by the provision of the Act is also empowered to detain any person reasonably suspected to be in possession or carrying stolen property, or property that is reasonably believed to be unlawfully obtained.[6] For the purpose of forensic investigation, the law empowers the police to take finger prints.[7] It should, however, be noted that the exercise of these numerous powers conferred on the police has to be discharged with due regards to reasonability and decorum. Any exercise of such powers in contravention of procedures accepted practice and the rights of individuals would be rendered ultra-vires null and void. This is importantly so as individual rights are also fundamentally guaranteed by the same Constitution that confers powers on the police. 

1.2    Statement of the Problem  

The Nigeria Police is saddled with the responsibility of maintenance of law and order. It also protects, prevents and investigates criminal activities. In the discharge of these duties, the force has over the years failed. This is by virtue of certain inherent problems and challenges that has militated the force in its application of its powers as have been statutorily provided. Some of these problems are:

a.           The abuse of human rights, collection of bribes, corruption in the force, flagrant shooting of suspects and fellow policemen, illiteracy and incompetence of certain police officers to the mounting of illegal road blocks.

b.           Lack of respect for fundamental human rights of every citizen in the discharge of their duties. These rights and liberties take the forefront in the operation of the rule of law in all democracies of the world today. Sadly, even when the Nigerian Constitution of 1999, reserves an entire chapter (the famous chapter iv) declaring and providing for the protection of these rights, the Police still continue to engage in their abuse from time to time. 

c.           There is police lawlessness which begins with small irregularities or illegalities such as the disquieting features of committing crime of falsifying crime records against accused persons. These sorts of events, actions or inactions indulged in by policemen show an open disregard for the principles of the rules of law and civilized conduct which adversely affect police discipline and make mockery of the Nigeria Police force generally. 

d.           There is also the problem of police extortion at road checkpoints, arbitrary arrest and detection, torture of detainees, administrative cover-ups are a few of the crimes committed by the police force in their pursuit for justice which they claim to uphold.

e.           Again, the Nigerian Police in the modern age seem to be handicapped in the face of current realities. It has been noticed that despite the teeming police personnel, the force is still bereft of manpower in certain quotas. There have been situations in which the police complain of shortage of staff when issues are reported to them. 

f.             Another problem is the lack of scientific and technological equipment for detecting crimes by the police.

g.           The police are handicap on the following aspects: Shortage of manpower 

i) Inadequate transport facilities  ii) Lack of scientific equipments for detecting crime

1.3 Aims and Objectives 

          The aims and objectives of this research work are: 

1)   To examine the role of the Nigeria Police in the administration of justice.

2)   To identify the inadequacies of the police in the discharge of their functions.

3)   To proffer practical solutions for combating crimes in Nigeria. 

1.4    Justification 

The importance of this research work cannot be over

emphasized. It analyses the role of Police in the Administration of Justice in Nigeria in order to give the public clearer views on police administration.

                              Also, the research is necessitated to show case the

indiscriminate violations of human rights by the police and the gross increase of crime rate in the country which often leaves much to be desired. 

                    With the above issues, this research will serve as a viable

source of information to all and sundry. First, it will benefit the police, those engaged in the administration of justice, law enforcement agencies and the court. It will also provide relevant suggestions on how best to curb the increase of crimes; it is also of immense benefit to policy makers, government officials, academicians, students and anyone interested in the peaceful co-existence of the Nigerian populace. 

1.5    Scope of the Research

This research is limited to the role of Nigeria Police in the administration of justice. It will also look into the issues of crimes prevention and mechanisms for control crimes in Nigeria. But, reference shall be made to the former colonial master (United Kingdom) who introduces police administration in Nigeria. Analysis was also made to other police organization to enhance more knowledge on this area.

1.6    Research Methodology 

The methodology employed in this research is doctrinal. That is, both the primary and secondary sources shall be employed such as the examination of statutes, Case laws, law reports, textbooks by renounced scholars. Other library materials such as journals, newspapers had been made reference to. Of course, internet sources were considered for current trends on crime detection and prevention. Encyclopedias, thesaurus and police diaries have been made

reference to. 

1.7    Literature Review 

This work examines an institution of great historical and political interest and significance. Together with the judiciary, civil services and the military, the police constitute one of the key institutions of a modern state. In particular, the origins, development and role of the police have not only prevented, detected and crime, they have also maintained law and order, preserved public safety and generally buttressed the existing governments, which were at first British and later Nigerian.

 Alcock, R.N. in his book, “Police Instruction Book[8] discussed very fundamental issues on crime prevention and detection. His work is indepth on the role of police in the prevention of crime, but failed to address to the minute detail of issues of enforcement of law. Also, his work, though relevant for this research, it is not in tune with contemporary issues as they obtain in Nigeria. 

 Gerber, S.B. and Schroeder, O, also wrote on Criminal Investigation and Interrogation, Cincinnati, 1962[9], where they elucidated on Investigation and Interrogation in the Maintenance of Law and Order and of curbing the rising tide of crime, yet their work has its short comings as most of the investigatory and interrogatory methods do not address the issues of Cyber Crime in the contemporary world.

 Jeffries, C. in his book: ‘The Colonial Police, London, 1952[10], only made reference to the function of the police in the colonial era. His work is relevant for this research only, in that it gives a historical background of the police, but is silent in contemporary role of the police.

 Okonkwo, C.O, in his book: ‘The Police and the Public in Nigeria’ [11] raised invaluable issues of the role of police in the prevention, detection and enforcement of crime. Though he

addressed the Nigerian issue in his book, there are certain grey areas he failed to enunciate and examine, such as the role of the police as it relates to court proceedings. 

 Ibiziako, S.M. also in his book: ‘Police Powers in Nigeria’ which is a London University Ph.D Thesis, 1963[12], addressed the scope of the powers of the police in the prevention and detection of crimes; an enhancement to the identification and appreciation of the powers of the police, but only relevant to a large extent in four decades, as there is little relevance to the present police institution in Nigeria. 


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