Proliferation of universities despite government’s poor funding of varsities (2)

By Aare Afe Babalola

IN this week edition, I intend to expatiate more on crime prevention by the police.

The law enjoins the police to ensure that the commission of crime is avoided or prevented. In other words (keeping the definitions offered earlier at the back of our minds), serious violations of law, acts of serious moral wrongdoing, social harms punishable by law, just to mention a few, are to be avoided or precluded by the citizenry by the police.

How the police is to accomplish this very serious task is not spelt out by law. One can therefore assume that the provisions of the basic wherewithal required for the execution of that duty are to be supplied by the state(Nigeria). This is when the question of responsive government comes into play.

To effectively ‘prevent’ the commission of crime, the following are required: Modern communication gadgets, functional vehicles, including patrol vehicles, adequate funding; good salaries; adequate but modern training in well-equipped training institutes that can match what obtains in the developed world; committed manpower, decent, habitable barracks suitable for human beings.

In subsequent discourse, I shall examine how the police has been crippled and made near impotent by subsequent governments due to their failure to provide the foregoing imperatives.

The truth is, nobody affords the other man the benefit of knowing beforehand his/her impending commission of a crime or crimes let alone disclosing same to law enforcement agents for to do so would amount to self-defeatism. The hatching of a crime is done in secret, the conception is in the heart while the execution, in most cases, is done in the open.

Therefore, for the police to avoid or preclude crime from being committed by members of the community, all the supports in all ramifications must be garnered by all and sundry and be made available to the police for therein lies any hope for success.

What is more, in a society where the citizens are afraid to lodge reports of the commission of crimes at the appropriate police stations for fear of being detained, the much-desired communal rapport with the police cannot but be at the lowest ebb.

Of all the crimes being committed, almost on daily basis in Nigeria, kidnapping, rape, robbery and murder stand out as those that have not only brought much odium and ignominy on this nation but equally defied solutions. The sophistication and precision with which the dare-devil kidnappers operate across the length and breadth of this country is spell-bounding. And it is no longer news that kidnappers possess far better, sophisticated and modern weaponry than the entire police in Nigeria. However, where and by what means these weapons are obtained have remained a knotty issue just as they are also controversial. Then who takes the blame? I shall defer my comment till the tail end of this discourse.

Crime detection, as earlier said, is more complex and requires higher degree of sophistication. It calls into question the investigative acumen of the police. Put in another form, discovering or revealing hidden crimes by the police entails greater risk, much commitment and ability to endure and persevere in the face of man-made odds constantly militating against the Nigeria Police.

Success in this endeavour, therefore, demands that the investigating officers exhibit undiluted honesty, coupled with determination to unravel mysteries surrounding certain crimes, the investigation of which is being carried out at the given period. Although the law provides certain safeguards, discovering or revealing crimes already committed or about to be committed cannot be dispensed with. He (or they) must remain uncompromising at all times. However, it will be difficult for the police to carry out the task of crime detection without the full cooperation of the community.

Apart from the duty of prevention and detection of crime, the other duties, according to Section 4 of Police Act are as follows:-

· Apprehension of offenders

· Preservation of law and order

· Protection of life and property

· Due enforcement of law and regulations and 

· Performance of “such military duties within or without Nigeria as may be required by them by or under the authority of this or any other Act”.

It is an open secret that the police in Nigeria is largely unpopular. The unpopularity could be attributed, in the main, to the ever-present deep-rooted suspicion that is embedded in the minds of many Nigerians. People prefer, in most cases, to refrain from reporting crucial incidents to the police than igniting police awareness. Why? The answer is that if you make the mistake of reporting the commission of a crime, the Police may turn round and make you the accused. No wonder societal ills are consistently on the increase geometrically.

In sharp contrast to the above ugly scenario, in advanced countries, for example Britain, Police readily get the full cooperation of the community. This is because they are courteous, responsible, efficient, responsive, civil and friendly. Police officers are respected and are regarded as the best friends of the community.

Permit me to say that police officers in advanced countries of the world are by no means more superior than our own here in Nigeria. In fact, investigation and research have demonstrated it beyond all doubts that just as we have in other disciplines, our own men and women in police uniform are rather more brilliant, tougher, rugged and endowed with enormous wherewithal to withstand pressure and more serious deprivations than their counterparts in those countries. Given the above indices, what then are the identifiable problems confronting the Police in Nigeria, thereby depriving them the much-expected efficiency making the Nigerian society the overall loser? The first problem flowing from my observation above is lack of the required total support of the society.

In order to have a better appreciation of the importance of cooperation of the members of the public to the successful operation of the Police, I refer once again to the extract from the Instruction Book of the Metropolitan Police Service in Britain. It says in part:

“In attaining these objectives, much depends on the approval and –cooperation of the public, and these have always been determined by the degree of esteem and respect in which the police are held. One of the key principles of modern policing in Britain is that the police seek to work with the community and as part of the community.

In the same Britain, just like any other evolving society, it should be stated unequivocally that “the police have suffered many trials and difficulties in overcoming public hostility and opposition, but, by their devotion to duty and constant readiness to give help and advice coupled with kindness and good humour, they eventually gained the approval and trust of the public.

This achievement has been fostered and steadily maintained throughout the history of the force, so that today its relationship with the public is established on the firmest foundation of mutual respect and confidence”.

The above to say the least, represents the ideal. Over there, people depend on police officers and detectives to protect their lives and property more than anything else.

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