THE NIGERIA POLICE FORCE MANAGEMENT OF CRISIS AND CONFLICT IN POLICING IJEBU-ODE LOCAL GOVERNMENT PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS
1.1 Background to the Study
The police force is regarded as the most visible governmental agency through which the character of a government and political system may be assessed. This is so because the police are the guardian or vanguard of the status quo. The role of the police in any human society cannot be over-emphasized. The police force is not only central to individual self-actualization, but also to social cohesion, economic development and democratic consolidation (Wabara, 2004). To a large extent, the actions and behaviours of the police reflect the political and economic character of society as well as what those in power are willing or able to tolerate or condone. Elemika (1999) seems to agree with the foregoing statement where he states that the goals, performance, problems and challenges of policing are determined by the social, economic and political structures of society. According to Elemika (1999), the police are subject to the dictates and interests of those who control the political and economic resources of society. Hence, the ability of the police to respond to popular demands of citizens as opposed to their subservience to the interests of political and economic power-holders is determined by the extent to which political and economic resources are equitably distributed and the citizens afforded opportunity for participation in the determination and implementation of public policies.
Before Nigeria’s independence in 1960, the number of enlightened and educated Nigerians was very minimal and the few privileged elementary school graduates had dreams that were much larger than being a policeman or women. Consequently, officers were recruited from among illiterate natives who saw themselves as white man’s tool for the oppression of their fellow citizens. Elemika (1999) further lends credence to the foregoing where he states that the history of the police forces in the country indicates that the various forces were established, organized and maintained by colonial and post-colonial governments primarily for order maintenance that engenders repression, a culture of impunity: corruption, incivility, brutality, lack of transparency and accountability. After Nigerian independence, concerted efforts were made by the first set of the country’s indigenous leadership to correct the perception of the police by the public. The efforts were however short-lived as frequent military regimes that started in 3966 only furthered the mentality of oppression.