A new public opinion poll conducted by NOIPolls Nigeria has revealed that a large proportion of Nigerians nationwide disclosed that police brutality on Nigerians is prevalent. Sadly, 40 percent of those interviewed further reported that they have either been or know someone who has been recently brutalised by Nigeria police personnel.
For instance, according to news report, a teenage girl was killed by a stray bullet in a shootout between policemen and some cultists in Ikorodu on the 16th of March 2019. Also, on March 25th, an Okada rider was shot dead in Kilo, Surulere area of Lagos, while on March 31st, 2019, late Ademola Moshood was shot dead by police personnel few blocks away from his house in Lagos state.
The increase in the case of Police brutality has led to intense pressure from the public for the reformation of the Nigeria Police Force, and to this end, the Nigerian Senate passed the Police Reform Bill in April 2019 for presidential assent. One of the outstanding features of the bill is that it provides internal disciplinary mechanism for any police officer that maltreats or kills an innocent citizen.
Further findings revealed that a larger proportion of Nigerians (34 per cent) cited ‘poor police welfare’ as the major cause of police brutality on citizens. Other mentions include ‘inadequate training’ of the Nigeria police personnel (17 per cent), ‘lack of contentment and greed’ (11 per cent), ‘lack of experience’ and the issue of ‘corruption’ within the Nigeria Police Force amongst other mentions. Therefore, there is need for the deployment of a strict measure to curb the menace.
The onus now lies on the executive to assent to the Police Reform Bill as a matter of urgency to ensure that this act is put to an end. These are the key highlights from the Police Brutality poll conducted in the week commencing May, 6th 2019.
Poll Background
The primary duty of a police officer is to protect citizens and properties. For instance, a police officer provides public safety by maintaining order, responding to emergencies and promoting good community relations. They also Identify, pursue, and arrest suspects and perpetrators of criminal acts.
The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) is the principal law enforcement agency in Nigeria. Over the years, the Nigeria police is saddled with the responsibility of securing lives and properties, maintaining law and order and preventing, detecting and investigating criminal activities.
Regrettably, public respect for the Nigeria Police Force is at an all-time low having been eroded by corruption, abuse of power and in some instances, a lack of capacity to actually prevent or solve crimes. The NPF rank and file is regularly found guilty of crimes ranging from extortion to rape, murder and now kidnapping.
Nigerians are increasingly losing hope and confidence in the Nigeria Police force owing to the recent brutality and killings by the operatives of the force. These include battering, shooting of innocent Nigerians, bribery, arrest of innocent Nigerians and unethical behaviors amongst others. For instance, the Public Complaint Rapid Response Unit of the Nigeria Police Force stated that Lagos, Rivers, and the Federal Capital Territory police commands recorded the highest cases of police misconduct. The unit also acknowledged that it received 137 complaints against policemen in Lagos, 89 in Rivers and 82 in Abuja.[2]
Police brutality in Nigeria seems prevalent; therefore, there is need for urgent and far-reaching measures to curb the menace. The passage of the Police Reform Bill by the Senate is commendable as the importance of this reform cannot be over emphasized. It is against this background that NOIPolls conducted a poll to gauge the opinion of Nigerians regarding police personnel brutality, illegal activities and suggestions on ways to curb the menace.
Poll Findings
Police brutality is one of various kinds of police misbehaviour which involves unjustifiable violence by police personnel. In gauging the prevalence of police brutality in Nigeria, 77 percent of the respondents stated that the issue of police brutality in Nigeria is prevalent whereas, 23 percent claimed it is not prevalent. Analysis by geo-political zone showed that Nigerians residing in the South-South and South-West zones (87 percent each) accounted for the larger proportion of Nigerians who asserted that the issue of police brutality is prevalent.
Respondents were further probed if they or someone they know had been recently brutalised in any way by Nigeria police personnel; and poll result revealed that 40 per cent of the respondents have either been or know someone who has been recently brutalised by Nigeria police personnel. For instance, news report revealed that on March 2nd 2019, a police officer shot a bus driver dead in Mosan, Ayobo area of Lagos for refusing to give the police officer some amount of money he had demanded from the bus driver. This is one of some incidents which have led to the death of an innocent Nigerian.
Subsequently, opinions on the main cause of police brutality were assessed and findings revealed that poor police welfare (34 per cent) is the major cause of police brutality on citizens. This is followed by those who mentioned ‘inadequate training’ (17 per cent) of the Nigeria police personnel, ‘lack of contentment and greed’ (11 per cent), ‘lack of experience’ and the issue of ‘corruption’ within the Nigeria Police Force amongst other mentions.

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