Are The Police Boy Scouts As The Armed Forces Takes Over Policing Nigeria?

IGP Solomon Arase


There is little left to completely classify Nigeria as presently a State under Martial law.

From the Boko Haram battle in the northeast to cattle rustling, to kidnap gangs and Fulani marauding terror episodes, to protests across the States, the army has been the first responder across Nigeria while the Nigerian Police ‘force,’ are seen as little more than Boy Scouts, making notes and reports, collecting tips on the street, warding traffic and sitting back while the army engages.

Whereas Nigeria’s constitution clearly stipulates that the Civil authorities (Police) are the first responders in all internal criminal eruptions, the role of the armed forces is…

Section 217 of the 1999 constitution:

(a) defending Nigeria from external aggression

(b) maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders…

(c) suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the President, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an act of the National Assembly and

(d) performing such other function as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.

army police

Clearly the armed forces only acts to restore order when called upon by the civil authorities and authorised by an Act of the National Assembly as a “back up” to the Police and not ahead of them.

But in Nigeria today, the police has been relegated to menial jobs, their guns are for show as the army has been empowered to act as the Police. Most times the army simply rushes to areas of disturbance without authorization by Act of the National Assembly.

There are obvious serious problems and dangers from running a Martial law state/State in a state of emergency.

The armed forces is not trained in maintenance of law and order. They are battle trained for war. With the deployment of the army, more violations are always expected as brutality is the way of soldiers. Police on the contrary are trained to access urban crises, and apply reasonable force to address civil disobedience, crimes and other situations of the break down of law and order. The Police understand how to make arrests while properly gathering information and investigation to properly prosecute cases. The police gathers records of criminal activities and infractions over time and builds a framework for comprehensive maintenance of law and order, while the army is trained in no such way.

Eleven months into the Buhari new administration, while the army has been clearly repositioned to increase and improve its capacity to fight wars, little has been done to restructure and resuscitate the police force. The current IGP is a chip from the old block and part of the years-rusty establishment and system of Police under previous administrations that rendered the force incapable of preventing the emergence of terror groups like Boko Haram, and other prevalent gangs like the kidnappers, rustlers and established armed robbers or addressing these where they exist.

What is the plan for the Nigerian Police? If the government has no urgent plan to restore this apparatus to take charge of internal security, should it not be abandoned? If as it appears, the Federal Police ‘force’ will never be able to adequately police the nation, is it not time to adopt State police that will be capable of fulfilling the duties of civil authority in a civil way?

If the police cannot confront armed bandits, then what are the AK47s slung over their shoulders for?

It is recollected that President Muhammadu Buhari promised that if elected President, he will restore True federalism in Nigeria. APC boss Bola Tinubu has made the same promise in the past. State police is one of the urgent needs of this system of government that should perhaps first and urgently be considered and adopted.

There is increased risk of violations of human rights when the army, most especially a battle weary one as obtains today is deployed to maintain law and order across Nigerian states. This army is stretched to its physical and mental limits. Soldiers are being pulled form Sambisa thickets to Abia, Delta and Zaria cities. This is a great risk to the Nigerian populace and recent reports of deadly excesses of the armed forces in cities and States across Nigeria is evidence of danger of this Martial system.

Something has to be done about the Nigerian Police and it needs be done fast.

Dr. Peregrino Brimah; @EveryNigerian