One Step Closer to Creation of State Police

One Step Closer to Creation of State Police

Sometime ago, I wrote
about why we needed to establish State Police in Nigeria and empower local security agencies
The advantages will be of course immense including employment for the teeming
youths, safer neighbourhoods and superior policing infrastructure. My voice is
definitely not the first and won’t be the last in support of this initiative
and I am glad we are moving one step closer as a nation to achieving this goal.

At the House of
Representative on the 27th of September, 2016, the Bill which seeks
to alter the 1999 Constitution of the Federation, to provide for the
establishment of State Police and to ensure effective community policing in
Nigeria, standing in the name of Hon. Awoleye Abiodun Dada passed through its
second reading and was accordingly referred to the Ad hoc Committee on
Constitutional review for further legislative action.
Section 214 of the 1999 Constitution,
provides that there shall be a police force for Nigeria, which shall be called
the Nigeria Police and, subject to the provisions of this section no other
police force shall be established for the Federation or any part thereof. In
order therefore to establish State Police in Nigeria, this provision of the Constitution
must be amended. It is hoped that the Bill becomes law in the shortest possible
The Nigerian Police is
regulated by the Police Act, Cap.P19, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
Section 10 of that Act provides that for public safety and public order The
President may give to the Inspector-General such directions with respect to the
maintaining and security of public safety and public order as he may consider
necessary, and the Inspector-General shall comply with those directions or
cause them to be complied with.
I believe the amendment
when passed will further lead to the State House of Assemblies passing their
respective Police Laws establishing the police in each state and enumerating
their duties, powers and administration. Most likely, the law will also empower
State Governors in regard to the security of their states as also provided for
in Section 10 of the Police Act. Also, the Police Act may be further amended to
properly outline the respective legal jurisdiction of the Federal and State
Adedunmade Onibokun

Photo Credit –


Credit – 
I remember a time when it was regular to see police officers mounting road blocks on Nigerian roads. The police used these road blocks as a means for searching vehicles they suspected of transporting unlawful items or suspicious persons.  However, it was largely recorded that officers also used this opportunity to extort motorists, sometimes by accusing such motorists of an illegality or by outright demand for a settlement or cash gift. Incredibly, though, the Police hierarchy outlawed check points and they have gradually become a thing of the past. 

Nigerians, however, still deliberate over the right/power of the police to stop and search a vehicle or its passenger without a search warrant. For instance,

when a police officer waves you down and demands to search your vehicle without a warrant or a reasonable cause in your opinion, couldn’t it be termed a form of harassment? Truth is, the Nigerian police have a very wide range of powers in line with their mandate to provide adequate peace and security to every Nigerian and in regard to searching persons they are covered by the provisions of the Police Act, which states in Section 29 that, a police officer may detain and search any person whom he reasonably suspects of having in his possession or conveying in any manner anything which he has reason to believe to have been stolen or otherwise unlawfully obtained.

The above law empowers the police to search any person but the law does not define the elements that must exist before a policeman can be said to reasonably be suspicious of anyone, this part of interpretation is often left to the police officer. Therefore, a person with a beard can be reasonably suspected of being a terrorist or a youth with a tattoo or dreadlocks can be reasonably suspected to be a misfit or hooligan. 

This lacuna leaves room for unscrupulous officers to still take advantage of the law and extort motorists, however, the Police must always be commended for their efforts in fighting crime and keeping the streets safe and its such powers as that contained in the above Section 29 that enables them to do so. If you are ever stopped by a police officer, I recommend you pull over and do exactly what he says, he has the authority to do so and remember that not everyone who stood up to Nigerian policeman lived to tell the tale, we still have trigger happy officers in the police force. 

Adedunmade Onibokun



Photo credits –
Have you noticed that the
Police are our default go –to – persons whenever we have anyone of the myriad
of issues we deal with on a daily basis. One act which I find most absurd is
when we make them our debt collectors, this means the police in a way serve as
contract enforcers, which I believe is not right.  A friend once recounted his experience with
the police to me and explained how he had entered into a contract which did not
work out so well, thus finding himself liable to his partner to the tune of a
few millions.

The creditor had become
inpatient and reported my friend to the police, who in turn arrested my friend
at his place of business but released him on bail. Though my friend has long paid his debt, I remember
wondering if the police also had a duty to act as debt collectors or contract
enforcers for the general public.
A look at section 4 of the
Police Act spells out the duty of the police. It states that:-
“The Police shall be employed for
the prevention and detection of crime, the apprehension of offenders, the
preservation of law and order, the protection of life and property and the due
enforcement of all laws and regulations with which they are directly charged,
and shall perform such military duties within or outside Nigeria as may be
required of them by, or under the authority of this or any other Act”.
From the foregoing, I do
not see the words debt collector stated in the Police Act, do you? So why do
Nigerians call the police for such. I will rather recommend you call a debt
recovery agent.
The courts also frown on
the practice of using the Police as debt collectors. This is illustrated in the
case of A.C (O.A.O) Nig Ltd V. Umanah
(2013) 4 NWLR (Pt 1344) Page 323
where the Court of Appeal held that:
statutory duties of the police under the Police Act is to maintain peace, law
and order in the society. Debt collection or loan recovery is not within the
purview of the statutory duties and powers of the police”.
In conclusion, I will
suggest that the police focus on its primary duties rather than allow
distractions from matters such as debts or loan recovery. Moreover, Nigerians
have to understand that a lawyer is someone you must have on speed dial all the
time before you enter into contractual agreements.