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Law on Prevention and Detection of Crimes by the Police in Nigeria: A review

By Dapo Olaosebikan

Law On Prevention And Detection Of Crimes By The Police In Nigeria is a doctrinaire research which was successfully undertaken by the author at the Faculty of Law of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State. Expectedly, the treatise has a robust research base on which the superstructure of the legal and legislative epistemology regarding prevention and detection of crimes by the Nigeria Police is established. And, this is identifiable from the beginning of the book to its very conclusion, which, as the author remarks, draws information from both primary and secondary sources.

Pages: 304
Publishers: Malthouse Press Limited, ISBN 978-54528-0-8
Author: Solomon Ehigiator Arase, PhD
Reviewer: Dapo Olaosebikan

As the author states, the objectives of the study leading to the publication of the book include “identifying the constitutional role of the Police, examining and evaluating the duties and powers of the police in crime prevention and detection in Nigeria”.  From legal point of view, the research culminating in the publication of the book undoubtedly has huge potentials of adding value to the body of knowledge regarding fundamental assignment of effective policing of Nigeria by the country’s prime law enforcement institution–The Nigeria Police.

The opening chapter–the curtain-raiser of the book, is an academic discussion of fundamental role of government in providing security for life and property in a geopolitical entity. This chapter is a prime foundation of the superstructure on which the research for the publication is built. With relevant data and stating that security is a dynamic phenomenon, the author re-establishes the known fact that the nature and extent of security challenges facing Nigeria has been mounting over time. And therefore, it is imperative for the Nigeria Police and all political actors to constantly reinforce the legal framework and strategies for policing the nation. As background to the entire academic exercise, key issues like focus and method for the research leading to the publication of the book, relevant literature and theories as well technical terms and legalese, are given some scholarly spur in order for the reader or researcher to have proper grasp of what the treatise is all about.

Chapter two of the book attempts an academic review of history of policing through pre-colonial and colonial Nigeria to her independence. The author takes the reader on an exciting academic and comparative odyssey into the traditional police institutions in pre-colonial Nigeria, particularly in the old Oyo Empire where the Ilaris and Hausa system where the Dongaris held sway as executors of executive orders of the king. The conclusion of the author in this regard is that the present police is an offshoot of the colonial police with prejudices against the public and vice versa, stating that after independence, the police found it difficult to extricate themselves from colonial approach to policing which was largely disrespectful to human rights, and protective of government officials.

Chapter three dwells on the constitutional role assigned to the Police. And, the author conjectures that with a monolithic police system in the country, there has been unending argument on the need for State police.  He however avers that in view of financial constraints plus global trend towards a single Police, State Police is not an immediate viable option.

Legislative framework of policing in Nigeria is presented with the same intellectual legalistic details in chapters four and five of the book. In these chapters, the author informs the reader of the huge legislative powers vested in the Nigeria Police–officers and men, in the discharge of their duties. The author concludes that the powers vested in the Police under the constitution and other legislations, especially the Police Act and international instruments, are a safeguard against abuse.

Chapter six is on performance of Police duties while chapter seven is on institutional mechanism for police crime prevention and detection duties. The author’s conclusion here, which from all inferences is the focus of the book, is that all the legislative safeguards and institutional mechanisms for police accountability have not, however, eliminated abuses by policemen in Nigeria in the course of their duties, hence the image of the Force in the public remains grittily unpleasant.

In the concluding chapter, the author discloses that from findings, enormous but not absolute powers are vested in the police. He further presents that apart from issue of abuse of power stemming from skewed grasp of law on prevention and detection of crimes by the Police, there are other perennial issues affecting professional policing in Nigeria. Accordingly, lack of fund, infrastructure, equipment and adequate education and training are identified as hindrances to true metamorphosis of Nigeria Police Force.

Finally, the book does not only identify contemporary challenges involved in modern policing in Nigeria from the point of view of experience, research and intellectualism, it inspiringly recommends policies that should be basis for modern effective policing of the country. These include making the inspector-General of Police have a fixed term of office; passing into law of the Nigeria Police Reform Trust Fund and Related Matters Bill, and the Police Act (Amendment) Bill as well as proper manpower recruitment and training of police personnel.

The other remarkable recommendation to move the police system from being driven by crime control value to due process value model, according to the author, is that of Police-public partnership through community policing, intelligence-led policing and the Nigeria Police Force-Complaints Response Unit, CRU.

Unequivocally, the book has the potentials of being a reference point on reforms of the laws, regulations and policies on policing in Nigeria. And, it equally has the latent attribute of becoming a huge platform of enlightenment to men and officers of the Force as well as all stakeholders on how to improve police services in the country.

Undoubtedly, the readers, particularly the ones with no nose or enthusiasm for legalistic details on crime prevention and detection, may find this compendium by the highly decorated leader of the Force and lawyer a little breezy to appreciate. Nonetheless, the book is an academic beauty in relevant facts and data on issues relating to the Nigeria Police and all extant laws on prevention and detection of crimes in Nigeria, which should be imbibed by men and officers of the Nigeria Police Force.


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