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NIGERIAN POLICE v MILITARY CONFUSION
The Military & the police share a long history. Both are uniformed govt services that have the mandatory power to use legal force and contribute to state authority. Combined they provide the physical power for Executive control. - LONG THREAD
The colonial masters came with Military force & there were no police. In Nigeria, d British forces (who arrived with d colonial bureaucrats) were responsible for civil as well as military control. They took over our traditional “police” structures operated by clan Heads & rulers
The armed forces & judiciary were among the first institutions to be formed. But with the growing need to keep peace & operate both soft & hard power, the police was established from the remains of local military traditional forces.
More were recruited to a distinct security agency from the military. This mark the start of the divergence betw Policing & Military functions. As police forces grew in number, the role of military forces in internal security diminished.
The roles of the police and the armed forces were later codified in a growing number of laws and regulations across Africa. Over time, both institutions fulfil a different function and have their own history and culture.
The most obvious functional difference is that the Military are responsible for the protection of the state against external aggression and the police responsible for the internal security and the preservation of internal public order.
However, the distinction in functions and duties has never been clear in practice. In 1829, the establishment of the English Modern for instance was, in fact, a reaction to the blurring boundaries between the military and police functions in British society at that time.
The creation of Modern Police meant the end of the military as primary agent for internal public order. In France; d rise of the Gendarmerie is another example. Originally this corps was a police corps within the army. But later their authority was extended to deal with civilians
In democratic societies; questions arise on the implications of this blurring boundaries for the legitimacy of both Military & Police institutions. It has been a concern for policy-makers as well as practitioners in both security estates regarding the challenges...
...these blurring boundaries pose for their performance and positioning within the changing national security ‘market’. After the Ironsi coup, the military (small and weak in comparison) treated the Nigerian Police as a cherished Bride.
They even appoint police chiefs into the govt to solidify the marriage. But after the civil war, the now more powerful, bigger & better-equipped Military decided d police was no longer an asset but a nuisance. This marked the beginning of the castration of the Nigerian police...
... by successive military regimes who saw them as potential threats to the success of their many coup projects. A Weakened police was in their best interest. So, over time, the NPF were incapacitated, neglected, underfunded & under-resourced. Only a small improvement since 1999
The Military on d other hand were well looked after. Better paid, better equipped, motivated. The relationship betw police & the military is a sensitive one. And when called to support civil policing; they tend to act like tin god who will not be instructed by “ordinary police”
Therefore, whenever the military are called to conduct civil operations in support of the police; they simply take over & the helpless police officers just watch from the sidelines. In fact, under Buhari, the Military has taken over some civil policing duties in over 30 states.
This is dangerous in a democracy. So, to compete with the armed forces; the police institutions decided that the Militarisation of the Police is the way to go. Rather than endear themselves to the people through community-oriented ethos, previous police leaders seemed...
...more interested in being “respected” by the military as equals. This has unleashed a brutality competition to see who is more Muscular. The only thing holding back the police is their poor equipment & training in comparison.
The videos of well-trained and super-equipped police officers disarming and arresting Military personnel in Turkey during the failed coup 2yrs ago shows what can happen when the police are better trained and motivated to perform their duties.
Better trained & equipped police along with an equally well-trained Military is what we need to create a balance of protection. As long as d police are poorly resourced in comparison to d Military; they will never be able to secure d nation & d military cannot do policing duties
So, in Nigeria, we should not be fooled anymore by the assumption that the police are in charge of our civil defense. That is only on paper. Bcos when it comes to major national civic events like elections; the Military have always been more trusted by govt than d police.
This is the sad commentary on our current militarised democracy. So HOW DO WE BUILD A STRONGER POLICE service that will serve Nigerians well. That will be another Thread for a later date. - END
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