The Conditions Of Nigeria's Police Force

Photo Credit, Sahara Reporters
Photo Credit, Sahara Reporters
By Sahara Reporters, New York

Nigerian authorities are insincere about Policing within Nigeria.

When Chief Superintendent of Police Musa Garba said the challenges facing the Mpape Police Station located in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, are “enormous”, he wasn’t overstating it. For the past three years, this Police divisional headquarters has remained an eye sore.

On a tour of the station during the annual Police Stations Visitors Week (PSVW) held from October 31 to November 6 in 21 countries across 5 continents which aims at improving police-public relations, Mr. Garba showed members of the public four discarded shipping containers turned operational base. It is from here 93 police personnel manage one patrol vehicle and are expected to provide security to one of the most densely populated satellite towns in the country’s Federal Capital Territory.

“As you can see there is no block building. The whole police station is made up of just four containers,” said the Mpape Divisional Police Officer (DPO) who occupies one container. “This place initially served as an outpost but ever since it was upgraded about three years ago nothing has changed. We currently have only one non serviceable vehicle which is presently grounded. This is what we have to make do with.”

The station has just one obsolete computer with no internet access found in one container serving as a stuffy administrative office, while the third container houses the station’s grossly understaffed traffic unit. It is however in the fourth container which has no light fittings and adequate ventilation coming from a portion cut out to serve as a window that male detainees are cramped up. Female suspects and street urchins are kept in a rundown make-shift wooden structure constructed into a police counter and charge room.

“This does not qualify as a standard police station. It is just disheartening seeing the cell and how they are packed like sardine,” said Umari Ayim, a lawyer, gender activist and first time visitor to the station. “No person, suspect or even criminal, should be kept in this kind of place. The conditions are terrible for humans to live in. Even for the police officers it is unacceptable. This is really bad.”

One suspect who said he had being locked up for five days, contrary to 24 hours as the law stipulates, narrated the sanitary conditions detainees face in the container.

“Make the police no lie to you say we dey go outside use toilet. Na for inside here we dey shit [defecate], piss [urinate] and sleep. Na so we dey suffer,” the young man said as he pointed to the extreme end of the container from where emanated a putrid smell.

His testimony was contrary to the police claim that detainees used a dilapidated toilet in an open space; which actually serves as the toilet being used by lower ranking police personnel. Senior police officers make do with another toilet, though enclosed, but not better off. The Mpape Police station has no rushing water or drainages and it relies on the generosity of Julius Berger Construction Company, which donated the containers years ago, for electricity. Most police officers with several years on the job described the station as “the worst” place they have ever worked.

The situation in Mpape is the reality of too many police stations across Nigeria. Another true picture of policing in Nigeria was made manifest when, on another day’s visit to Maitama Police Divisional headquarters located in one of Abuja’s most high-brow areas, it was revealed that as many as 278 of the station’s total strength of 397 personnel are security guards to top government officials and politicians; leaving 119 police officers to insufficiently provide security to the larger community.

“We are handicapped as we have insufficient number of personnel. Almost all the VIPs reside here and 60 to 70 percent of the policemen deployed to their homes on guard duties are from here,” The station’s Divisional Police Officer, Hayatu Usman, a Chief Superintendent of Police, told foreign nationals and Nigerian visitors.

Coupled with the station having only four patrol vehicles in deplorable condition, CSP Usman said the situation has resulted to the few remaining personnel, though now having to work longer hours, not meeting up to the security requirements in the area, which include foot and vehicular patrols especially at night, traffic control operations, surveillance and intelligence gathering. The circumstances are worse as police officers, unable to afford accommodation within the city, travel far distances to come to work.

The visitors couldn’t help but feel that Nigeria Police stations are specially designed to fail going by the present framework where the Police hierarchy don’t take into account the specific immediate needs of police stations in their diverse localities. A major problem with the current system is heads of police units don’t make any input into the formulation of the budget of the police force. They only contend with the subventions they receive from their superiors, if and when they come.

“The budgeting process is top to bottom,” says Kemi Okenyodo of CLEEN Foundation, a partner of the Altus Global Alliance, organisers of the police stations visits. “As a result how do you gage what they need at the bottom? The police budget is supposed to take into cognisance the entire cost of running the organisation including each police station in the country. But what you find is people even senior police officers don’t have access to the police budget, which leads to ask how do you then hold the police accountable?”

This question of accountability further lends to who bears the cost for fuelling the operational vehicles, generators, down to the stationary employed in the offices of every police station in the country. Many times, at the risk of compromising professional ethics, Police officers depend on the charity of individuals and organisations to carry out their duties. It is common place to see police personnel using their personal items for official work. In Mpape, CSP Garba used his own money to construct the wooden interior in the container he occupies. In Maitama, where there is not even a first aid box, CSP Usman disclosed that only this year has he received a meagre sum of money to cover the stationary needs of his station. The welfare of suspects in Police detention is another case in point.

“The feeding of suspects is supposed to be done by contractors but they don’t come because they say they are not being paid,” CSP Usman said. “Only once since January I think N10,000 was given to cover feeding of detainees. For now it is their relations and some voluntary organisations who feed them.”

The hypocrisy of how the Nigeria Police system is run is visibly seen via the demoralising expressions on police men and women. When Napoleon Enayaba, a Nigerian historian, visiting the Mpape Police station asked one policeman at the Police counter/charge room why, as against the rule, there was no information displayed on the detainees board which should give details of the 12 suspects who were in police custody, the officer said off-hand, “we don’t have chalk”. Another police officer replied “we didn’t bother to keep account” when it was observed that the crime diary where cases reported to the station are supposed to be recorded had not been regularly updated. A glance through the register also showed several suspects had remained in detention for days on end for minor bail able offences.

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No Alterntive To Being Well Equiped

The police stations--all over the federation--need to be installed with state-of-art equipment at this ctitical period when underworld men are getting more callously intelligent and high-tech inclined or else they will oft be one up.

Criminals have hyjacked our country in the name of democracy


How can anyone expect the police to be honest the way the rogues we have running our country treat them? Senators are earning $1.7ml a year for doing nothing,while the man and woman on the frontline earn peanut? They've killed the police officers moral to do right, our police officers have been turned to house boys and maids for this criminals that call themselves politicians/rich criminals, my heart bleeds for nigeria because there's no ending insight unless the masses of this country wake up and get their priority right nigeria will soon die especially with this boko haram issue, corruption, corruption, corruption, how long will it take for us to chase out this thieves from our govt? 2011 is going to the end yet nigeria remains a failed nation we like it or not, nigeria is dying very fast.

This is insane

Do we have a government??? The only thing these rulers know is stealing from all of us! God, what is wrong with our lot? Help! Have mercy & get ris of all these bad pple in our midst!


U are one biased son ** * *****. U must be one of those Igbos that think they are next to the Jews.....................Well sorry old chap, ur's is not a tribe any normal person would envy. U claim that Jona is under the armpit of thinks it was ur tribes men whom whole heartedly put him there for i remember vividly that after Jona won "the Election" the pple that agitated most were the Northerners. Problem with u and ur pple is u think u can ride on the backs of others to the position of leadership....bros it dont work like that...u have to be honest with ur selves and others.

Police affairs commission

What happened to all the money voted and disbursed to Police affairs commission?This is just exactly the way we are at all governmental levels - no accountability,na ur turn to chop. In the same way the security of Nigeria is now political party business.Are u people suprised?


EFCC cannot probe the Police and what goes on there because the Chairman of EFCC is part of the Police. Tell me, with all the police budget since OBJ to date and donations from States and Corporate bodies, why are the Police stations and barracks the way they have been? Too bad indeed. Oga Jonathan we need to do something. A probe and a Tax force on the Police

please help us

My brother please help us buy the Austrian news paper that carries the news of the thief miniter and scan it and send to us.We need the paper copies now.

This is very shameful for a

This is very shameful for a country as rich and blessed as Nigeria, well what do you expect when corruption is the order of the day from the very top. Nigerian had a chance to change the system by voting in Buahari but we allowed sentiment to affect our sense of judgement and still voted for a president who can not take charge because of the forces that controlling him. I strongly believe that a firm Buahari would have been the change needed in every aspect of Nigeria as a nation including the POLICE............what a big SHAME.


It will be recorded in the remaining days of Nigeria as one entity that Lame duck Jonathan is the WEAKEST and the LEAST Intelligent of all Nigerian Presidents. It will also be recorded for him on his special hatred on competent Igbo men. We knew that when he sacked an Igbo IGP and took the most incompetent of IGPs in history of Nigeria, he was heading to self destruction. Today, it is quite visible. Ringim connived with his kinsmen and Jonathan is looking for a hidding place. Nigerians are today missing Obasanjo terribly. Surely, every chicken must come to rost.

The minister of petroleum 

The minister of petroleum  Diezani Allison-Madueke  bought a villa in Vienna -Austria  20 million euros  it was in Austrian  newspaper today   sorry sorry ooo for Nigeria.

Wat do expect when police dat

Wat do expect when police dat is suppose 2 guide d nation, guild only d rich n mighty. Madam goes 2 market police help am carry 2 mato 4 head. Pikin go schl police escort. Oga nko leave story 4 jornalist.


How much was the NPF budget for this fiscal year? And can anyone account for how it has been spent, or are we relying on the removal of the oil subsidy for a well-equipped and maintained police force as well?

This is, putting it succinctly, ridiculous.

No Police Inspctor is better

Ranging 4rm Tsav, Ehindero, Tafa, Onovo, Ringim and any more 2 cum b4 Nigeria breaks, remains a liar and thief. In Nigeria i wonder who exactly is d armd rubbers, d Police or d street uchings? Cos both rub with arms.

Tired of killings

Mr President,Your Excellency,Jonathan Goodluck,Nigeria is second tired of unnecessary destruction of lives and properties.I therefore appeal to Your Excellency,to open a direct talks with members of the Boko Haram in order to finding a lasting solution to the present day unrests.Nigeria is under fear!The living conditions of our security agencies be improved and on the other hand,the life style of officers and men of the Nigeria Police be closely monitored as some of them go on duty under the influence of alcohol for them to end up on carry out extra-judicial killings on innocent citizens.Such officers be shown the way out of the force,oh Your Excellency!

na waoa!

it's sad to see and read this,how do we now expect the best from this people?we need God's kingdom fast bcos that abt the only solution.obasanjo,jonathan and whoever will fail us over and over again but God wouldnt.

Why now?

This is the true picture of my beloved country......not only the NP....So much insincerity everywhere.


How can the police provide security when they themselve are not secured? God help Nigeria to wake up from slumber.

Nigeria is even lucky to

Nigeria is even lucky to still have a standing police force. Tafa Balogun stole the bulk of the money earmarked for building a strong police force, and his brother Obasanjo released him on a paid 6 months sick leave. Then Bro Jona sacked Onovo who was doing very well without corruption because Onovo is an Igbo man. Jona replaced Onovo with incompetent Alhaji Ringim and made him the chief of his kitchen cabinet. As long as the slave-master alliance between the Ijaws and Hausas remain in effect, Jonathan will serve under the direction of his Hausa masters. But Nigeria is bound to suffer calamities as long as Bro Jona remains under the armpit of the Hausa Fulani.