Nigeria Police Force


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About The Nigeria Police Force

The Hausa Constabulary/Lagos Police – 1861

In Nigeria, the development of the Police Force was on a tangential direction to that of the British Force. British trade interest and the need to prevent squabbles between the native chiefs and the Imperial Merchants were the impetus for the formation of the Force. 

Consequently, the Police grew up as paramilitary Force bearing arms from its inception. The Consular Guard established in Lagos in 1861 consisting of about 30 men were armed. In 1863, this Guard matured into the Hausa Police and by 1879, the latter developed into Hausa constabulary. It was armed and consisted of a Commissioner, two assistant Commissioners, A Superintendent, an Assistant Superintendent, A Pay and Quartermaster, A Master Tailor and 250 other ranks. 


The Royal Niger Company established in Lokoja in 1886 an armed constabulary to protect its trade interest along the river Niger in the North. There were 5 officers, 415 Rank and File then. But these increased to 15 officers and 1,003 rank and file in 1898. Although this constabulary was disbanded in 1900 when the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria was proclaimed, it achieved success in punishing slave dealers in Ilorin and Bida in 1897.


In 1891, the Oil River Protectorate was declared with headquarters at Calabar. This was the handwork of Annesley who found it increasingly difficult to carry out consular orders which were invariable anti-chiefs interest. His mode of administration was a conflict model. He attacked the palace of Andemeno in Cross River with his Force. 

He allowed his commercial interest to becloud his judgement and the realization that the early Police Force in his homeland in Britain developed as a result of the co-operation and goodwill of the people. 

Consequently the Force was disbanded and in 1894 the Nigeria Coast Constabulary was formed. This force survived for six years until 1900 when the colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria was proclaimed. 


With the proclamation of the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria a lot of the men of the Niger Coast constabulary defected to the Southern Nigeria Regiment. The others, including the Lagos Police force joined the Southern Nigeria Police which came into existence in 1906. This Force was headed by an Inspector- General of Police Johnstone. The force performed Para-military duties. 


In 1906, three separate Police Forces existed in Nigeria. There were the Lagos Police Force, the Northern Police Force and the Southern Police Force. In the second half of 1906, the colony and protectorate of Lagos was merged with the protectorate of Southern Nigeria. In 1914 the colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria and the Protectorate of Northern were merged to form the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria. 

However, the Southern and Northern Nigeria Police Forces remained separate and no amalgamation too place until 1930. On 1st April, 1930 came the existence of the Nigeria Police Force with headquarters in Lagos. The Inspector-General of both forces, then amalgamated, was Duncan. He headed various Police establishments in British Possessions outside Nigeria before his appointment. 

(Culled from “The Nigeria Police and Human Rights” by S. G. Ehindero)


History of The Nigeria Police

The word Police is derived from the Greek word “Polis”, meaning that part of nonecclesiastical administration having to do with the safety, health and order of the state. The Greek politeria, meant the art of governing and regulating the welfare, security needs and order of the city-state in the interest of the public.

Although Police is derived from the Greek, it was the Romans who perfected the system. The Roman politia meant the same thing as the Greek Politeira. It was a symbol of power residing in central Authority.

During the duration of the Roman Empire, Police in Rome was organized from the ranks. There was the Roman Prefect which had under his control fourteen Magistrates, each responsible for a district and assisted by vigiles who patrolled the streets, lictores who were law enforcement officers and stationaii who were residents of the city blocks.

In Britain, Policing developed as a local affair with a role which has remained till now. That it is the responsibility of every person to maintain law and order. This role is rooted in history and common law tradition of Britain that each citizen had a duty to suppress crime and disorder within his area.

Failure to do so entailed the payment of fines. The burden of policing was placed on every adult citizen. It was an avocational obligatory policing, manifesting itself in the forms of tythingman of the Saxon Police, the frankpledge in the South and East of England after the Norman conquest 1066 and later as the Parish Constable system after the enactment of the Statute of Winchester 1285.

Before describing these systems in brief it is relevant to observe that policing and police work did not start as a paid profession. It started as a noble, incorruptible profession with considerable responsibility and distinction. It was the Justices of the Peace system, which corrupted the Parish Constable System.

When the first paid professional police force was proposed in Britain, it was strongly opposed by those who feared that such force would lead to repression and threat to the freedom of the individual and to democracy. The Police Force as we know it today went through three distinct stages before it became a profession. As Hewitt, W.A. puts it. “ At first the populace, though small was responsible for maintaining law and order. Then Justices of the Peace emerged on the scene to provide both the law and order and Justice at the bar. Then, in the present era, paid professional police were established to maintain law and order”.


 Objectives of NP

The Aims of the Nigeria Police Force is to enhance the quality of life in our Country by working in partnership with the community and in accordance with constitutional rights to enforce the laws, preserve the peace, reduce fear, and provide for a safe environment. 

Reduce Overall Crime including violent and drug-related crime – in line with the Government’s Public Service Agreements (PSAs) service which responds to the needs of communities and individuals, especially victims and witnesses, and inspires public confidence in the police, particularly among minority ethnic communities Take action with partners to increase sanction detection rates and target prolific and other priority offenders Reduce people’s concerns about crime, and anti-social behaviour and disorder

Combat serious and organized crime, within and across Force boundaries.

In partnership with the community, our objectives are to:

  • Protect the lives and property of our fellow citizens and impartially enforce the law.
  • Fight crime both by preventing it and by aggressively pursuing violators of the law.
  • Maintain a higher standard of integrity than is generally expected of others because so much is expected of us.

Value human life, respect the dignity of each individual and renderour services with courtesy and civility


Police Activities  

The Nigerian Police Force is famed around the world and has a unique place in the history of policing. It is by far the largest of the police services that operate in West Africa. 

Today, the Nigeria Police Force employs a lot of officers, police staff and traffic wardens and thousands of Police Commands, all over the country. 

The police maintains law and orderliness in the community i.e ensuring that all indigenes and non indigenes are governed by the law irrespective of their position or status in the community.

The Patrol men go around the community to ensure that all paramount cases are duly attended to eg clearing broken down vehicles on the way and attending to dis-orderliness in the community. They equally attend to emergencies and respond promptly to any official call of emergency. 

They arrest and detain if need be and issue bail for a suspect who is yet to be arraigned in the court of law.


Structure The Nigeria Police is divided into six major departments. They are:  

‘A’ Department (General Administration of the Force): The ‘A’ Department Force Headquarters, Abuja is rated as the highest administration of the Force. Its primary functions are as follows:

  • General Administration of Force,
  • Administration of policies and procedures as well as administering the finance of the force,
  • Convening of the Force Tenders Board,
  • Police Insurance Welfare Scheme and periodic review of all standing Force orders,
  • Implementation of regulations, directives and other relevant instructions. The following teams and units are sub-divisions of the ‘A’ Department:
  • Administration
  • Force Secretary
  • Welfare
  • Provost
  • The Police Medical Services
  • PAP
  • Airport
  • Railway
  • Printing Press
  • Police Band
  • Police Welfare Scheme/Recreation I. Office of the IG of Police: The Office of the Inspector General of Police is responsible for the general charge and control of all Department operations.

The Inspector General of Police is the chief executive officer of the Department. The Office of the Inspector General of Police provides liaison with the national council, state, the Commissioners’ office, neighboring countries and other criminal justice agencies. The IG is responsible for providing vision, leadership and administrative coordination to the Department. The IG provides direct supervision to the members of the National and State Staff.


II. The Secretary (Principal Staff officer) is assigned to the Inspector General of Police. The Secretary provides clerical support to the IG’s office, cater for the appointments, promotions transfers and discipline of Senior Police Officers including Civilian personnel on Salary grade level 08 and above. Other functions of the section include:

  • Transfer, Posting and deployment of Senior Police officers (SPOs);
  • Custody of personnel records and files of SPOs;
  • Maintenance of service records of SPOs and other Force Personnel;
  • Issuance of discharge certificates and identity Cards to retired Officers;
  • Served as Secretary of Force Disciplinary Committee;
  • Seniority review and promulgation of Force Circulars;
  • Implementation of decisions taken at Police Council meetings as directed by Inspector – General of Police;
  • Liaising with Police Service Commission on matters of appointments into the police, promotion and discipline;
  • Processing of SPOs application for study leave, transfer of service from Federal or State department to the Force;
  • and Appointment of invigilator for courses at Police Colleges.
Disclaimer: Articles here are purely the opinions of the writers and not in any way representations of the views of 'Transparency For Nigeria'