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From constabulary to Nigeria police

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Nigerian policeMany have argued that the rejection has more than a historical hypocrisy, because the states have always had their police until 1968. And only in 1959, was it noticeable that Dandokas (local police) were used to beat and harass people in the elections.

In Britain, the police maintain separate areas of jurisdiction ranging from county to county, Borough or a group of many counties. The Metropolitan Police (under the Home Office), which covers an area of 15 miles radius, does not have jurisdiction over London, which has its own city police.

Apart from this, the railway, dockyards, and armed forces have their own police. There are also other specialised units like motor patrols, police dog handlers and an anti-riot mounted branch.

The US, on its part, has many police agencies that exist separately. There are Federal, states, county and municipal Police. While the state police take charge of highways and enforcement of state laws, cities have their separate police under the authority of a commissioner, who is an appointee of the mayor.

Another country that operates a decentralised police is, France. While the gendarmerie is supervised by the armed forces, the Surete Generale is under the authority of provincial prefects, the equivalent of governors. Paris, the capital, has its own police, called the Paris Prefecture.

Although, the various communities that constitute the present day Nigeria had mechanism in place to protect their societies, organised policing in the country was a colonial creation.

The Nigeria police too took off when Britain established the Nigeria Police Force in 1861; it started with a 30-member consular guard in the Lagos Colony. By 1862, the British government had increased the constabulary to 100 and by the following year there were 600 men on the nominal role of the constabulary. It followed this up in 1879 with a 1,200 paramilitary Hausa Constabulary. In 1888, the Royal Niger Company set up the Royal Niger Company Constabulary in Lokoja. Six years later, it formed the Lagos Police and in 1894 the Niger Coast Constabulary in Calabar, under the authority of Niger Coast Protectorate. The Lagos Police was established vide Ordinance no 10 of 1895.

With the merger of Lagos Colony with the Southern Protectorate, Lagos Police ceased to exist; instead a Southern Nigeria Police Force was put in the place.

But in the early 1900s, these were collapsed into two: the Northern Nigeria Police and the Southern Nigeria Police. Although there was an amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorates in 1914, the two regions maintained two separate police forces until 1930 when they were merged to form the Nigeria Police Force with headquarters in Lagos. That merger is what has grown to become the centralised police system, which is at variance to a federal system Nigeria currently operates.

In the year 1906, Lagos colony was merged with the southern protectorate to form the colony and protectorate of Nigeria, hence the number of police formation in Nigeria reduced to two.

However, the amalgamation of the southern and northern protectorate to form Nigeria in 1914 did not follow a similar pattern. It was not until April 1, 1930 that the Nigeria police became unified under the command of an inspector general whose office was at the force headquarters in Lagos till October 1, 1960, when Nigeria gained independence, maintained this pattern. The native police forces ceased to exist in Nigeria in February 1968, while existing personnel in the several forces were recruited to the Nigeria police force.


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1 Comment
  • amador kester

    The nigerian constabulary was fundamentally established to protect british commercial interests,,royal niger company and the colonialists. It was not set up to serve the nigerian peoples. The constabulary metamorphosed into the police but the fundamental unwritten modus operandi still lingers to puzzle eveyone. In essence an organic reorganization and review of the role of the police in serving the people becomes highly imperative and must reflect in the presently dysfunctional police training school syllabus. The people see this force as an alien imposition in cohort with criminals despite the feeble efforts of police public relations system to rectify this perception. The problem had been structurally inbuilt from foundations