Policing an environment of Terror
Book: Policing in a Corrosive Environment
Publisher: Koolak Enterprises, Ode-Oolo, Ibadan, 2011
Author: Francis Yemi Ojomo
Reviewer: Bayo Ogunmupe
THIS book, Policing in a Corrosive Environment, written by Chief Superintendent of Police, Francis Yemi Ojomo contains the history of the Nigerian Police and its operational strategy.
The Nigeria Police Force grew out of the desire of the British to maintain peace and order in their plan to milk the African continent and give it civilization. Hence, Pax Britannica was imposed through the police, which started in Lagos in 1861. It was called the Consular Guard and consisted of 30 men under Consul John Beecroft. In 1863, the Consular Guard was renamed Hausa Constabulary, now numbering 600 men, because some run-away slaves captured at Jebba by Lt. Glover were forced to enlist into the police. Another recruitment in 1879 swelled the Hausa Constabulary, bringing its number to 1,200 officers and men. An Inspector General was named to command it. The duties of the constabulary were both military and civilian, such as maintaining law and order.
The Lagos Police Force came into being on 1st January 1896. Like the Hausa Constabulary, this Force was armed. It consisted of a commissioner, two assistant commissioners, a superintendent, an assistant superintendent, a Pay Master, a Quarter Master, a Master Tailor and 250 other ranks. The Lagos Police Force operated mainly in Lagos area while the Hausa Constabulary operated mainly in the hinterland.
However, the Royal Niger Constabulary, also known as the Northern Nigeria Police came into being in 1886. This armed constabulary had been set up to support the authorities with their headquarters at Lokoja. From there, the force provided security for the company stallions along the River Niger.
The Niger Coast Constabulary was formed in 1894, following the declaration of the Niger Coast Protectorate. It was moulded after the Hausa Constabulary and performed military duties as well. It formed the bulk of the expedition against Benin in 1896.
With the creation of the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria in 1900, the majority of the Niger Coast Constabulary joined the Southern Nigeria Regiment in 1900. The remainder of the Niger Coast Constabulary and the Lagos Police Force were absorbed into the Regiment in 1906. The Southern Nigeria Regiment was commanded by an Inspector General of Police (IGP). He was also responsible for prisons, prevention and detection of crime, repression of internal disturbances and defence of the colony and the protectorate against external aggression.
The amalgamation of the southern and Northern Police Forces took effect in April 1930 with its headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria’s capital then. The unified police was commanded by Captain Duncan as the IGP. But in 1937, the title was changed to Commissioner following the restructuring of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) along federal lines as Nigeria was divided into East, West and Northern Regions. In 1947, an Assistant Commissioner of Police was appointed in each region. With the new constitution in 1952, the police returned to the command of an IGP, Mr. Maclughan, assisted by a commissioner in each of the three regions, and the Southern Cameroun.
Southern Cameroun voted to join the Republic of Cameroun in 1961. The police serving there were given the option of going into the Police Force of the Cameroun or a return to NPF. Most of them returned to Nigeria.
The first 20 female police officers were recruited in 1955. Sections of the Police came at various times. The Marine Police was formed in 1891, Criminal Investigation Department (CID), was created in 1893, the Police Fire Brigade section was created in 1901, the Railway Police Command was created in 1947; the Transport Section was created in 1950; the Police Mounted Troop Section was created in 1961; the Police Dog Section in 1963, the Air-Wing in 1973 and the police Medical Service in 1975.
At its inception, Police recruitment targeted people of questionable morals and integrity and others with low self-esteem. Among police recruits were slaves already traumatized and having ability for aggression. This policy was designed by the colonialists to ensure that Police officers carried out their orders to the letter. Indeed such policemen saw their recruitment as a boon from a society that had disappointed them. Their mindset fitted perfectly into the agenda of the mercantilist interests of the colonialist.
The interest in the police worsened in the Native Authority Police of Northern Nigeria and the Local Government Police in the West. Thus, they became potent instruments in the hands of their paymasters. In the North, the native authorities used the police to collect taxes and maltreat perceived enemies of the emir. In the West, they were used in the maiming and killing of political rivals. All these went on unabated up till Nigeria’s independence in 1960.
Like other state institutions in Nigeria, the 1999 Constitution made provisions for the establishment of the NPF in Part III and section 214 thereof. The administrative structure of the NPF is flexible. There is devolution of power from the centre. Six departments from A to F are to handle specific core police duties. Each of the departments is headed by a Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), answerable only to the IGP. Also there are 12 zonal commands with each being headed by an Assistant Inspector General of Police. Following closely are the State Commissioners of Police who administer various state commands. They are supervised by zonal commands ensuring correct strategies to combat crime and maintain peace.
The blue colour of the police flag stands for love and unity. The following yellow stands for discipline and resourcefulness while the third colour – green stands for energy. The police flag is hoisted at each police formation, division or department headed by the IGP or a senior police officer. Most cheering of police policies is the synergy amongst the police and the Nigeria Labour Congress, the Metropolitan Police, the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the military and a host of other bodies for the purpose of enforcing greater productivity. Indeed, the author canvassed for sufficient funding and mobilization for the police to enable them perform their duties effectively and thereby boost their morale in readiness for the task ahead.
Within this five chapter book with 96 pages including two pages of references, Francis Ojomo the author did justice to the various duties of the police, ethics and police conduct, factors affecting police performance and his suggestions towards improving police performance. For this, Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), he hails from Okunmo, Okitipupa Local Government Area of Ondo State. He holds a B.Ed degree in History and Education from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife; M.Sc in Security Studies from the University of Ibadan, with another master’s in conflict Resolution, also from U.I.
After serving in the Imo State Government House, he was posted on a peace-keeping mission to Darfur, Sudan on the platform of the UN in 2008. From there he attended courses in the Peace-keeping Training Centre, Teshi, Ghana. He got eight awards in 2010, one of which was as best police officer in Oyo State. Presently, he is the chief security officer of the Oyo State Governor. CSP Francis Ojomo is happily married and he is blessed with many children.