Police corruption is a prevailing threat to national security and normality. This act has not only led to the loss of faith in the police force but also cost the lives and properties of citizens alike. Police brutality is a real and major life-threatening dilemma in Nigeria and this past few years especially in 2021. It has shown how dangerous it can be ultimately. According to Wikipedia “Police corruption is a form of police misconduct in which law enforcement officers end up breaking their political contract and abuses their power for personal gain. Police corruption is a challenge to public trust, cohesion of departmental policies, human rights and legal violations involving serious consequences.”
Police corruption involves various forms. “Police related corruption comprises petty corruption, bribes for alleged traffic violations, kickbacks, internal payoffs, direct criminal activities, shakedowns etc.” A typology of police corruption pg 423-437. They also include working alongside gangs in the trafficking of drugs, weapons and even humans and occasionally contract killing. Corruption also varies as a result of exposure and the area where the police officer works. For police officers who work in the interior rural area, their form of corruption differs from the police officer in the urban area. There are numerous forms of police corruption and this article cannot discuss it alone. The Police force is also used to oppress the people politically. This is another form of police corruption that is dominant in this country. The political and ruling class employs these corrupt antics to achieve their selfish aim and also oppress the people. “The antics of every minority that oppresses the majority are always the same. They will try to intimidate you with threats of police action. But do not let us fear arrest“ – MKO Abiola
CAUSES OF POLICE CORRUPTION
Police corruption can be traced to so many causes. These causes are sometimes not known to the citizens before passing their views on the act of police corruption. We must understand the causes of this act vividly. Some of the causes of police corruption include:
- Inadequate salaries
- Community standards
- Patronage and loyalty
- Payments for posts
- Frustrations with court judgments
- Inability to meet basic needs
These are the major cause of police corruption in the country. These causes have a huge consequence on the people whom the police have sworn to protect. The law of cause and effect also supposes that if these causes are not treated objectively, the police force might not be reformed and the people will continue to suffer. Oftentimes, we have neglected these root causes and choose to focus on the problem without considering the cause. But it is vital to consider that in other to provide the solution to a problem, the root cause must be considered because the solution to any problem lies in the cause of the problem.
SOLUTIONS TO POLICE CORRUPTION
Police corruption is an important issue to be addressed as it affects internal security and tranquillity. The controversy of police corruption in Nigeria is complex, and its several permutations and characteristics cannot be addressed adequately in a single article. Pragmatically, the solutions to police corruption are not farfetched from the problem as it is something that can be achieved. Though it is complicated nevertheless we must put in place elements and framework in place to curb this act of unprofessionalism within the police force. It is valid to say “Scream it from the mountaintops: the solutions to ending police brutality are rooted in state and local government.” Amanda Litman.
Accountability of the police force: The police force must be held accountable for every deed and resolution its members engage in. Citizens must have a right to lay complaints concerning the corrupt practices of the police force with serious accountability followed. “We have a right to be heard. We need more accountability and support from the Nigerian Police.” – Bolanle Olukanni The demand for accountability is a must and the demands must be met.
Radical restructuring: They should be radical restructuring within the police force to implement the change that is required. Internal adjustment and restructuring of the police force is a major key to ending the current police corruption. The restructuring includes regional policing. Each state should be able to own and control her own state as to monitor growth and the activities of members of the police within that state. As the former Gov of Lagos said “My recommendation is a compelling urgency for decentralization. There is a necessity to decentralize the Police. We are under policed.” Governor Babatunde Fashola. The police must be broken down into state and regional units so we can ensure accountability and control of her activities.
Improvement of working conditions: A Police recruit earns about ₦9,019.42 monthly according to Wikipedia. This shows how underpaid most of the members of the Nigerian police are. The government must look into their salary structure. The salaries of police officers must suit the kind of work of security they are paid to perform. The case of accident and retirement is also important to consider. Many police officers engage in corrupt practices because they cannot rely on their salaries or allowances after retirement. Also, considering the rate of inflation and increase in prices of commodities in the country; we must look into this aspect.
Introduction of anti-corrupt agencies: independent anti-corrupt agencies should be set up to checkmate the activities and complaints of the people against police corruption. A federal or state special investigation agency that will be independent of the police force will ensure to check the excess of the police force. This organization will consist of trained and virtuous civilians who will ensure to carry out the task to the maximum level.
Police brutality and corruption is a complex and changeable problem that can never be completely solved. The best that can be hoped for is the drastic reduction to a minimal level. It must be brought down to manageable proportions to ensure we cut crime even within the police force.