POLICE YOUTH RELATIONSHIP AND COMMUNITY PEACE IN NIGERIA
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This study was set to investigate police youth relationship and community peace in Nigeria using Niger Delta Region as a case study. The recognition and appreciation of Nigerian youths as important partners in strengthening solidarity and cohesion in our society cannot be overemphasized in this 21st century. This study provides an overview of the concept of youth according to the various nations and organizations. It delineates the analytical framework of youth, its roles, functions, activities, involvement with the police during community peacebuilding, and fieldwork analysis. It also tried to find out how important is the relationship between the police and the youth in community peace building, their relevance, and scope. The research was carried out by administering questionnaires and interviewing the elder, youths and police officers in Niger Delta Region. It was revealed that police collaboration with the youths can play a very positive role aiding peaceful coexistence in our societies. Also, there is a significance relationship between the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigeria youths in community peace building. The study concludes that laudable opportunities can be achieved only when there is cooperation and synergy between the police, youths and the informal security outfits in the region. It was recommended that the state government should incorporate the activities of local youth vigilante groups and also attach them to work side by side with the police units in order to assist the police so as to reduce clash or conflict of interest.
- Background of the Study
Police interactions with youths present a unique set of challenges and opportunities for law enforcement agencies. For many youths in Nigeria, their first encounter with anything justice-related issues either in school, their neighborhoods, or social service settings is through law enforcement. The nature and circumstances of this contact can have a significant and lasting impression on a young person. A police Officers have many opportunities to engage with young people. More than four million youth who are 16 and 17 years old have face-to-face interactions with law enforcement each year (Matthew, 2007). However, while research finds that positive interactions with police are predictive of positive attitudes toward the police, negative interactions are predictive of negative attitudes (Elena, 2013).
The Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies are statutory institutions of the state, created for the national security of its citizens and protection of territorial integrity of the state. The Nigeria Police Force are saddled with the responsibilities of maintaining peace and order, protection of the territorial integrity of the state as well as protection of lives and properties so that citizens can live, work and go about their normal legitimate business without undue fear of intimidation and aggression within the confines of the Nigerian borders.
The Nigeria police has a history dating back to 1861 when the British recruited 30 men consular Guards and engaged them mainly to protect colonial interest. These armed constabulary formed the nucleus of what gradually metamorphosed into the Royal Niger constabulary in 1888 formed in Lokoja (present Kogi State), Niger coast constabulary formed in Calabar in 1894 and the Lagos force formed in 1896.
However, after the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorate by Lord Lugard in 1914, a fusion of all the forces hitherto working independently of each other occurred and what is today known as the Nigerian police was formed in 1930. The Nigerian Police is an organization whose responsibility borders primarily on crime control and internal security through the instrumentality of the Nigerian constitutional provisions (Muhammed, 2012).
The authority to establish the Nigeria Police is embedded in section 214 (17) of the 1999 constitution which states that “there shall be a Police Force in Nigeria which shall be known as the Nigeria Police Force and subject to the provisions of the section, no other police force shall be established for the federation of any part of the country”. The functions and powers of the Police Force are however spell out in Chapter four (4) of the Police Act and Regulations (The Nigeria Police Act and Regulation, 1986).
Youths have always been highlighted as a perpetrators of conflict, violence, war. However, we cannot deny the fact that youths could also play a significant role in community peace building operating with various law enforcement agencies especially the police. Nigeria since independent has witnessed of decade-long operation of insurgency and terrorists groups especially in the north and southern region. Intertribal and communal clashes has also been an order of the day in most communities in Nigeria. The most recent scenario is the ongoing brutal killing of police officers and destruction of police stations in south-south states like Abia, Akwa Ibom, Delta and Imo and so on. The police on the other hands have started deploying youths and tasks force men into communities to serve as community police, a unit of the police who act as a nexus between the third arm of government and the police force.
Community policing is the bedrock of community partnership in creating a safe and secure environment for all and sundry. It is policing whereby the people take active part in their own affairs. With community policing, the police is not seen as a problem or stranger whose presence stands for danger but as partners in development. The unfriendly nature of the relationship between the police and members of the public has enjoyed a wide coverage among scholars. It was in reaction to this development that the concept of community policing was introduced to prevent crimes and maintain peace. The significance of crime prevention in any society cannot be over-emphasized. Traditionally, the maintenance of law and order in any society is usually the exclusive role of conventional police and other law enforcement agents. In Niger Delta Region, the history of crime prevention can be broadly divided into three main categories viz; pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial. The pre–colonial forms of policing include vigilante group and palace guards (Rotimi, 2001).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The saying police is your friend in Nigeria is now considered a big fallacy among the Nigerian youth. Nigeria is a land full of promises and it is evident that ordinary citizen thinks the policeman is anything negative, and not a friend (Omilana, 2019). The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Police Act, international conventions, professional ethics and other statutes regulate and as well constrain the use of force by police in discharging their statutory functions. Despite these regulations, the police in many societies resort to using extreme force beyond limits as permitted by law in discharging their duties and in the process grossly disregard of the rule of law and resorted to killings extra-judicially, torture and subject civilians or citizens to all sorts of inhumane and ill-treatment; unfortunately, the same citizens that they have earlier sworn to protect (Segun, 2016). Oct. 20, 2020, will forever be known as Black Tuesday in Nigeria. In a darkness broken only by the blue light of cellphone screens, the sound of gunshots rang out as the army and police fired into a crowd of young people who had gathered at Lagos’s Lekki toll gate to protest the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a notoriously abusive arm of the police. The massacre at Lekki punctuated more than two weeks of protest of police brutality in Nigeria. The hashtag #EndSARS began trending (again) on social media on Oct. 4. The immediate trigger was a video that showed a SARS officer shooting a young motorist in Ughelli, in Delta state, then pushing his body out of the car and driving off with the dead man’s Lexus SUV. Within days, crowds of young people gathered in Nigerian cities to demand the abolition of SARS. It is no longer news that the special anti-robbery squad has been disbanded, It is in view of this that the researcher intend to examine the police youth relationship and community peace in Nigeria.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The primary aim of this study is to investigate the police youth relationship and community peace in Nigeria. The specific objectives are:
- To examine the nature and dimension of frequent conflicts between personnel of the Nigeria Police and the youths in Niger Delta Region.
- To analyze the causes of these frequent conflicts as they relate to these Nigerian youths and police officers.
- To examine the implications of such conflict on the maintenance of law and order through the national goals of peace, stability and cohesion.
- To proffer strategies and aimed at improving the relationship between the Nigeria youths and the police.
1.4 Research Questions
In the light of above, the following questions are discernable:
- Is there any significance relationship between the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigeria youths in community peace building?
- Does police collaboration with the youths play a positive role in aiding peaceful coexistence in the society?
- Is there frequent conflicts between personnel of the Nigeria Police and the youths in the Niger Delta Region?
- To what extent has the Nigeria Police Force carried out their task of maintain peace, preventing internal and external attacks as well as safeguarding lives and properties?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
For the purpose of this research work, the hypothesis will be based on null and alternative hypothesis:
H0: There is no significance relationship between the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigeria youths in community peace building.
H1: There is a significance relationship between the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigeria youths in community peace building.
H0: Police collaboration with the youths does not play a positive role in aiding peaceful coexistence in the society.
H2: Police collaboration with the youths plays a positive role in aiding peaceful coexistence in the society.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study is significant because it will bring to bear the nature and pattern of conflict of interest among the Nigerian police men and the Nigerian youths. Also, it will prove to be a very useful guide to policy decision makers in future decision making processes as it pertains to matters of Nigerian Security Agencies. It will help Nigeria Security Agencies to identify the root causes of unhealthy rivalry which exist among them.
Furthermore, the research will contribute to the ongoing efforts to eradicate conflict among the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigeria youths in local communities. Finally it will sustain existing literature and will guide future researches as well as benefit scholars and the general reading public.
1.7 Scope and Limitation of the Study
The thematic scope of this study is the Nigeria Police-youth relationship in community peace while the chronological scope is between 1990-2020. Geographical scope covers conflict flash points Niger Delta States. The study will focus on identifying the remote and immediate causes of notable conflicts among the youths and the police officers in Niger Delta Region as well as proffer solutions to such conflicts using the community policing.
However, the study was limited by several factors. First was the difficulty in getting access to top senior officers to get evidences and useful information which are kept secret and confidential. Also, there has been the issue of inability to get access to reports of enquiries committee on cases of police and youths clashes set up by the government to investigate clashes.
1.8 Method of Study
The research design or methods adopted for this study are historical and descriptive research methods. This is informed by the fact that the study is based on the dimension of the conflict between the youths and the police. Critical attempts are made towards analyzing the reasons behind these riots and protest in Nigeria between 1990-2020. Data employed for the study were gathered from both primary and secondary sources. Primary sources included oral interviews and eye witness accounts with knowledgeable persons on the subject under study while secondary sources included but were not limited to periodicals, textbooks, intelligence reports, internet articles among others.
1.9 Definition of Terms
In order to avoid the misinterpretation of terms used in this research, there is need for the definition of terms used as well as their meaning within the context of this research.
Police: The police is the department of government which is concerned with the maintenance of public order and safety and the enforcement of maintaining public orders, enforcing regulation for the prevention and punishment of breaches of the law and detecting crime.
Youth: Youth is the time of life when one is young, and often means the time between childhood and adulthood (maturity). It is also defined as “the appearance, freshness, vigor, spirit, etc., characteristic of one who is young”.
Community: A community is a social unit (a group of living things) with commonality such as norms, religion, values, customs, or identity. Communities may share a sense of place situated in a given geographical area (e.g. a country, village, town, or neighbourhood) or in virtual space through communication platforms.
Peacebuilding: Peacebuilding is the development of constructive personal, group, and political relationships across ethnic, religious, class, national, and racial boundaries. It aims to resolve injustice in nonviolent ways and to transform the structural conditions that generate deadly conflict.
Conflicts: Conflict is defined as a clash between individuals arising out of a difference in thought process, attitudes, understanding, interests, requirements and even sometimes perceptions.
Community policing: Community policing is a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies that support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime.
Police brutality or excessive use of force by law enforcement can be legally defined as a civil rights violation, where law enforcement officers exercise undue or excessive force against a subject.
A protest is a public expression of objection, disapproval or dissent towards an idea or action, typically a political one. Protests can take many different forms, from individual statements to mass demonstrations.
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