Impact of Security Synergy Between the Police and Community Policing on the Constitutionally Guaranteed Rights in Nigeria
The escalation of criminal activities in recent times in Nigeria has necessitated the invention of a new approach to crime control and prevention. Ordinarily, the police are saddled with the responsibility of crime prevention and control. However, the high rate of violent crimes, political thuggery, kidnapping, bombing, vandalism, prostitution and corruption has led to the adoption of community policing strategy in most localities to supplement the efforts of the Nigerian Police in combating crimes. Community policing is a strategic effort at co-opting and utilizing the people to prevent crime among the people by the people themselves. It is therefore the position of this study that in this synergy between the police and community policing strategy fundamental rights of the people have been grossly violated. The methodology adopted in this work is descriptive and analytical. The dissertation describes the philosophical foundation, organization and management of community policing. It also analyses the implications of the adoption of community policing on the components of the criminal justice system. The study concludes that police is confronted with numerous challenges which if not tackled will hamper their work and leave the citizenry at the mercy of recidivists. However, the introduction of community policing outfits appears to have brought hope in crime control and prevention. Consequently, the police effectively and efficiently patrol the streets with the complementary role of community policing outfits. But the notwithstanding the immense benefits of this security synergy, both the police and community policing outfits flagrantly violate people’s fundamental rights and the need to address the challenges for fundamental human rights confronting the police and community policing outfits must be addressed. As part of the recommendations, the study maintains that the police must recognize that it is in its interest to provide officers who are competent, honest and responsive to the needs of the community. Also, it must follow the guiding values central to community policing which include trust, cooperation, communication, ingenuity, integrity, initiative, discretion, leadership, responsibility, respect and a broad end commitment to public safety and security.
Consequently, the police must establish an effective partnership with the community as a whole the foundation of which is mutual trust, and understanding.
1.1. Background of the Study
In the discourse of security in Nigeria, Okorie, Jega, Salawu, Onyishi, Ezeoha, and Lewis have identified several causes of security crisis in Nigeria that pose grave consequences to national development. Chief among them is ethno-religious conflicts that have claimed many lives in Nigeria. By ethno-religious it means a situation in which the relationship between members of one ethnic or religious and another of such group in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society is characterized by lack of cordiality, mutual suspicion and fear, and a tendency towards violent confrontation.
Since independence, Nigeria appears to have been bedeviled with ethno-religious conflicts. Over the past decades of her Nationhood, Nigeria has experienced a palpable intensification of religious polarization, manifest in political mobilization, sectarian social movements, and increasing violence. Ethnic and religious affiliations determine who gets what in Nigeria; it is so central and seems to perpetuate discrimination. The return to civil rule in 1999 tends to have provided ample leverage for multiplicity of ethno-religious conflicts.
As part of the social contract which the state has the obligation to fulfill for exercising the power which belongs to the people, the government is expected to provide adequate security for the citizens. Consequently, the Nigerian government has set up various security agencies for both the internal and external protection of the citizens. The 1999 Constitution of Nigeria underscores this when it declares: that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government. But the veracity is that security is a thing of partnership between the state and the citizens. A security system entails all that the state and citizens do from individual to institutional level to ensure the security of lives and property.
The problem of the Nigerian polity is that there is no strong will to entrench law and order in the Nigerian polity. If there were only one man in a State in Nigeria, there would be no need for rules of law or regulations because there would be no upsetting of existing equilibrium caused by the acts of another person; there would be no conflict of any type. Perhaps all that would be necessary would be for one to avoid injuring oneself through one’s own act. No wonder, Farrar notes that a solitary individual is a hermit living in complete isolation from other human beings probably requires nothing more than habits. Since this scenario only exists at the utopic realm, law became necessary to help in the quest to actualise order. It became the tool for social engineering. Law is the pillar of social code; a society without laws is a living anachronism. In the absence of law and order organised life is impossible. Thus, law defines the extent to which it will give effect to the interests which it recognizes, in the light of other interests and of the possibilities of effectively securing them through law; it also devises means for securing those that are recognised and prescribes the limits within which those means are to be employed.
Rule of law is a key component of the social and political orders found in liberal democratic states. Aristotle insisted that it is preferable that law should rule other than a single one of the citizens. According to Aristotle:
He who ask law to rule is asking God’s intelligence and not others to rule while he who ask for the human being is bringing in a wild beast, for human passion is one like wild beast and strong feelings lead astray rules and the very best of men. In law, you have the intellect without passion.
This means that man’s freedom is conditioned in a society where there is rule of law. Therefore, where the law rules, violation of its stipulations will attract penalty. Many people obey law in order to avoid the unpleasant consequences that may follow disobedience to law. Amadi explains that:
The rule of law is the infrangible cord that connects all wings of law, giving meaning to all laws in any political authority. The rule of law simply says that laws should be obeyed by everyone – the ruler and the ruled. It is this obedience that gives life a meaning. Life begets society, and if life is meaningless because of absence of the rule of law, then we may have an anarchic society.
Whenever there is absolute incapacity to impose sanctions where there is breach of law; disorderliness becomes prevalent. A clear illustration is the terroristic insurgence of Boko Haram in the North-eastern part of Nigeria. In a deadly attack on 24th day of February 2014, the group massacred 29 students with scores seriously injured. The Islamic sect had killed hundreds of people in the orgy of violence unleashed on Gwoza, Izge and Bama in Borno State on February 2014 alone. The level of lawlessness and rascality prompted the Federal Government to declare State of Emergence in some North-Eastern States. The Governors in those states are no longer finding the heartrending lawlessness funny. Order has completely vanished in those States. The Governor Shettima of Borno State insisted that Boko Haram is better armed and better motivated than the Nigeria Military. This is even as the promise of the Chief of Defence Staff that Boko Haram would be wiped out by April, 2014 is still subsisting. Why is it then, that every time the military boasts of winning the war or putting timeline to ending the war that the insurgents step up their attacks? Nwosu writes: “The strangest thing for me in all this is the issue of motivation. What motivation can be behind these seeming mindless attacks? Is it the motivation of hoisting an Islamic State and running it? If it is that, what then is the motivation to kill yourself to hoist such a regime”.
It must be pointed out that insecurity is a multi-headed monster that has exposed our security failings. Presently the incessant bombing by the Boko Haram sect which has plunged the Northern part of Nigeria into crises, intractable cases of kidnapping which has engulfed the South-East zone and the oil bunkering prevalent in the South-South zone are just a few to mention. These internecine acts of criminality and the fear of the unknown have prompted various communities to set up vigilante groups with the aim of mitigating some of these crimes. Vigilante groups thus forms the crux of community policing.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
The upsurge in terrorist attack in Nigeria being spearheaded by the Boko Haram, an Islamic extremists group, has exposed the absolute non observance of the fundamental rights of suspects in Nigeria. The prompt killing of the Boko Haram leader Ustaz Muhammed Yusuf without trial speaks volume of the power of police to kill and maim people presumed to be innocent under the Nigerian Constitution. Access to lawyers, which is a right of an accused under section 36(6)(c) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, is now a privilege. This was why Kabiru Abubakar Dikko known as Kabiru Sokoto was allegedly denied access to counsel which ultimately stalled his trial when he was arraigned on the 20th March 2013. Right of access to counsel is a fundamental right enshrined in the 1999 Constitution which is observed in breach.
There is also the ponderous presence and contribution of the vigilante groups in the infraction of rights of Nigerian citizens. Sometimes, rights to life, human dignity, movement and liberty are most often threatened by these groups. What is worse, these vigilante groups do these with the implicit or explicit support of the police. Thus in the case of Aluu four, the students were killed instantly by the murderous vigilante group with full cooperation of the police.Therefore, it becomes glaring that the major problem in the security sector of the Nigerian nation is the challenge of preserving and protecting the fundamental human rights in Nigeria and at the same time guaranteeing adequate security for the nation.
1.3. Objectives of the Study
The objectives of this study are:
i. To ascertain the challenges of fundamental rights enshrined in the 1999 Constitution to the police and the community policing outfits in Nigeria. In the process of doing this it will be shown that the community policing outfits play complementary role to the police.
ii. To show that the cost of the synergy between the Nigerian Police and the community policing is the infraction on and the desecration of the fundamental rights of the suspects.
iii. To establish the legal obstacles to the protection of fundamental rights of the citizens and the need to address these problems will also established.
iv. To show that both the police and the community policing outfits flout the law on the fundamental human right of the arrested suspect with reckless abandon. They neither observe nor comply with provisions of law on fundamental human rights.
v. To suggest the way out of these challenges.
1.4. Significance of the Study
This study is significant because it attempts to show that the Nigeria Police Force and the Community policing outfits have an established case on the infringement and non-observance of the Fundamental rights provisions. This is irrespective of the fact that the said fundamental right provisions are constitutionally entrenched in the Nigeria legal corpus. This work will contribute immensely in finding the best approach to observance of fundamental rights of suspects in Nigeria.
The methodology used in this research is doctrinal, analytical and descriptive. It is doctrinal because relevant legal doctrines were examined and applied. It is also descriptive and analytical because it describes and analyses the present state of the law vis-à-vis community policing and the community policing outfits in relation to the challenge posed to the institutions by the fundamental rights provisions. Reliance is also placed on primary source material like case laws, legislations, textbooks, conference papers, journal articles, internet materials and other legal literatures. Secondary source materials like observations, interviews and comments of legal practitioners are also utilized.