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NIGERIAN JUSTICE SYSTEM: THE IDEAL, HOPE AND REALITY

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Abstract

Justice system and its administration in every state is the reflection of that state's extent of civilisation, the dispensation of justice and development. Nigeria's justice system (the Police, Courts and Prison) largely derived from the colonial/English background and orientations also reflects the Nigerian state and society. This study explored the Nigerian justice system in relation to the dispensation of justice among citizens as a panacea to peace, stability and development of the Nigerian state and societies. The administrators and operators of the Nigerian justice system are collectively and separately responsible for most of the problems facing the Nigerian justice system, while the government, on the other hand, has failed in its responsibility by neglecting the system through underfunding, negligence, excessive politics and incompetence. Indeed, the rot in the justice system is a major threat to Nigeria's socio-societal security and stability. The study used secondary sources of data and made recommendations, which include complete overhaul of the prisons to reflect changing realities, curbing corruption in the entire justice system, strengthening the constitutional provisions and procedural enforcement of fundamental rights, extensive and adequate civic education, strengthening the works of civil societies organisations, timely and efficient dispensation of justice in the courts, ensuring full independence of the judiciary and creation of conducive atmosphere for legal aid providers among others.
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NIGERIAN JUSTICE SYSTEM: THE IDEAL, HOPE AND REALITY
Mohammed Isah Shehu
1
Asso. Prof Dr Muhammad Fuad Bin Othman
2
Email: mfuad@uum.edu.my
Dr Nazariah Binti Osman2
Email: nazariah@uum.edu.my
Abstract
Justice system and its administration in every state is the reflection of
that state’s extent of civilisation, the dispensation of justice and development.
Nigeria’s justice system (the Police, Courts and Prison) largely derived from
the colonial/English background and orientations also reflects the Nigerian
state and society. This study explored the Nigerian justice system in relation
to the dispensation of justice among citizens as a panacea to peace, stability
and development of the Nigerian state and societies. The administrators and
operators of the Nigerian justice system are collectively and separately
responsible for most of the problems facing the Nigerian justice system, while
the government, on the other hand, has failed in its responsibility by
neglecting the system through underfunding, negligence, excessive politics
and incompetence. Indeed, the rot in the justice system is a major threat to
Nigeria’s socio-societal security and stability. The study used secondary
sources of data and made recommendations, which include complete overhaul
of the prisons to reflect changing realities, curbing corruption in the entire
justice system, strengthening the constitutional provisions and procedural
enforcement of fundamental rights, extensive and adequate civic education,
strengthening the works of civil societies organisations, timely and efficient
dispensation of justice in the courts, ensuring full independence of the
judiciary and creation of conducive atmosphere for legal aid providers among
others.
Keywords: Congestion, Corruption, Judiciary, Justice System, Police, Prison
1
General Studies Department, School of General Studies, the Federal Polytechnic Bauchi,
Bauchi State Nigeria. zababa72@yahoo.com +2348061557546/+2348025770679
2
School of International Studies, Ghazalie Shafie Graduate School of Government, 06010
UUM, Sintok, Kedah Darul Aman, Universiti Utara, Malaysia.
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Introduction
The role of justice in every state and society cannot be emphasized,
being the first and good quality of all human and social institutions, likewise
all laws, their establishments and maintenance/regulation would have to be
transformed if they fail to dispense justice and it is so for every state and
society that cherishes sustainable peace, order and prosperity (Rwals, 2008:3).
This is the fact of all societies and in any stable society, justice is not
bargained or left to the dictates of social interests. Justice system and its
operation in every state and society is a reflection of its extent of civilisation,
the ability to proper dispensation of justice, stability and development
(Petersmann, 2003; Kymlicka, 1990; Fullinwider, 1977 & Van der Veen &
Van Parijs, 1985; Kolm, 2002; Ray, 2015; Churchill, 1992; Kelly, 1994). The
Nigerian justice system comprises of the Police which serves as the main law
enforcement agent, the Courts, which is an institution for adjudication,
arbitration and punishing offenders and Prisons, which are basically state
centres established for punishment, correction and keeping in custody those
being accused or convicted of various offenses. The Nigeria Police Force
established by Section (214) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria is the most
strategic public law enforcement agency but is today faced with several and
complicated problems which have characteristically undermined all its
institutional performance and the Nigerian justice system.
The Courts also established by Sections (6 [1-3], 230-294) of the 1999
Constitution of the Federal Republic Nigeria as the only state institution with
hierarchy, jurisdictions and constitutional powers to try and convict the
citizens for various offences against the public and private individuals, are
also in turbulence because of problems related to abuse of office, corruption
and incompetence with overall negative effects on the justice system; and the
Prisons, which are established as punishment and correction centres with
specified capacities of inmates to be accommodated at every particular time,
and found in virtually every major town or city, have become centres of
infection with diseases, stacking people, keeping away opponents and
enemies, as well as a sophisticated training ground for inmates and detainees
to specialise in various criminal activities such as armed robbery, drug
addiction, e.t.c., partly as a result of congestion which has become an issue of
grave concern to both state and civil societies all over the country in view of
the impending consequences associated with it and the justice system.
Statement of the Problem
The justice system of any society, its efficiency and otherwise reflect
the confidence the public has and outlays the extent to which state and
authorities are able to achieve regulative capability among the citizens.
Nigeria as a state is trapped in a justice system where both the common man
and the state authorities do not have confidence in it. There exist a wide gap
between the ideal on one hand and the real happenings on the other, especially
Nigerian Justice System: The Ideal, Hope and Reality
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as regards the inadequacy of the justice system (Hope, 2017; Michael, 2016;
Fischer, 2016; Onapajo & Uzodike, 2012).
The Nigeria Police Force and its operations have been largely
politicized, while corruption, ethno-religious bigotry have permeated through
both the rank and file and the officers‟ cadre; poor working condition and
operations, bribery and corruption within and outside the Force have
circumvented the dispensation of duties and justice to Nigerians (Afon &
Badiora, 2016); most Nigerian Prisons are congested, the inmates records
poorly managed, feeding, health and other services for the inmates have
collapsed, recurring cases of indiscipline, rape and drug abuse have taken over
the institutional roles of the prisons (Akinnawo & Akpunne, 2016; Nnam,
2016); the courts have become business centres where people go in for
services to be done as they pay for, corruption has become order of the day
and no working facilities (stationeries, accommodation/offices, security), the
judicial service has become politicised and bastardised by politicians, the
judges are themselves confused, over-worked and uncoordinated thus
contradicting one another in their actions and verdicts (Salawu, 2016). These
have led to a situation where the general public and other state authorities
themselves despise and have lost confidence in the justice system (see also
Oduntan & Oduntan, 2017; Imam, 2016; Michael, 2016; Supreme Court of
Nigeria Report, October 2016).
Objectives of the Paper
The objectives of this paper are to:
i. exhume the problems as well as the extent to which such problems have
undermined the performance of the Nigerian justice system (the Police,
Courts and the Prison).
ii. identify the general and specific effects inflicted on the Nigerian state and
society.
iii. proffer short and long-term remedies towards the resuscitation of the
Nigerian justice system for a just, secure, stable and prosperous state and
society.
Justification for the Paper
For Nigeria to attain the much desired socio-economic, political development,
stability and sustainability, it has to have an effective and efficient justice
system, which will establish and guarantee the maintenance of laws and
regulation of the state and citizens behaviours and relations. For the fact that
the Nigerian justice system is faced with numerous problems, proper
explorations need to made into the system, the ideal, what the citizens hope to
gain from it, and the real situation. This is in order to uncover the trend,
institutional roles and impediments, and make recommendations on how to
achieve optimum effectiveness and efficiency of the system for the overall
development of the Nigerian state and citizenry.
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Literature Review
Background of Nigerian Legal System
The present Nigerian legal system originated from the British colonial
legacies, though it also contains Sharia (Islamic) and Customary laws
(originally from the natives) as components. However, prior to the colonial
contact, conquest and independence, the various areas of what is now Nigeria
had their peculiar traditional and or religious legal systems with Courts,
Prisons and traditional Police. Thus, the popular Sharia/Islamic legal system
(for both civil and criminal) of the Sokoto Caliphate for example, as
maintained by Akinbiyi (2003:1-2 & 2000:332) with an institutionalised and
professional judicial system. In fact, there existed, for example, a
comprehensive justice system in Northern Nigeria long before the arrival and
conquest by colonial masters as submitted by Ajayi, (1971:166). That also
characterised the Igbo, Yoruba and other pre-colonial societies based on
respective cultures, traditional religions and at various levels of development.
Akinbiyi (2001:69) has stated that the history of Nigerian laws is
traced to 1863 when Britain introduced the British Ordinance No. 3
introduced English law into Lagos colony. From there, the laws were
gradually extended to Southern and Northern parts of what later became one
and united Nigeria. The present Nigerian legal and justice system is thus
largely formed along the English common laws model and is characterized by
tremendous English laws upon its growth and development (Obilade, 2001:4;
Akinbiyi, 2003:1). The system, in part involves both civil and criminal
procedures. Civil procedure is the entire process employed in civil actions to
redress civil wrongs involving the methods, styles and practices used in civil
actions with court rules and constitutional provisions (Akinbiyi, 2000:2).
Criminal proceedings are meant and instituted to punish offenders, while civil
proceedings are instituted to enable individuals to enforce their rights or
receive compensation from others. Similarly, criminal offenses and
proceedings are usually controlled by the states, while civil proceedings are
taken up by individuals depending on circumstances and peculiarities, but
sometimes with no clear distinction between the two (Obilade, 2001: 5).
The Nigerian justice system like any other comprises of three main
components (the Police, the Courts and Prison) and the role of the trio in the
justice dispensation or otherwise to any state and society cannot
be overemphasised (Bellessa, 2012: VI). A lot of literature has been written on
justice system, especially because of its strategic role in portraying the extent
of social-societal and legal maturity and development (Fairbairn & Fairbairn,
2016; Hyden, 2015; King & Murphy, 2014; Bright, Kohl & Jonson-Reid,
2014; Alkali, Jimeta, Magashi, & Buba, 2014). Justice system is greatly
influenced by the major objective of protecting the public from various
incidents and the degrees of what is perceived as a danger to the state and
society (Nash, 1999:51). The Courts comprising of judges, e.t.c. are the
interpreters of the laws, arbiters of disputes and have a unique role in the
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protection of human rights, and in the ideal sense, they are a fundamental
cornerstone of democracy and protection of human rights. As such, the courts
and judges, e.t.c. have to play a unique and expected role in the administration
of justice. Similarly, the judges must be experienced in law and life, objective,
disciplined, uncompromising, independent and fearless, constant and
impartial. In discharging their functions meritoriously, Akinbiyi (2003:133-
52) noted that the court or a presiding judge has duties of controlling court
proceedings, doing justice between parties, upholding the independence of the
judiciary and principles of fair hearing, politeness and courtesy to all,
especially the two parties and maintenance of high standards of behaviour.
Competence and hard work are the therefore, the indispensable tools
for the effective performance of judicial functions. The judiciary/courts have
strategic roles of guarding and enforcing the constitutional limitations on
power, guardians and dispensers of justice for all as enshrined in laws and
resolution of conflicts between, among individuals and between individuals
and state (Nwabueze, 2007:1). The courts and their presiding officers (judges,
e.t.c.) have challenges of developing and enhancing their judicial knowledge
and skills, developing and up keeping personal qualities, being current with
happenings and trends, especially in the judicature and then observe
independence and impartiality (Salman & Ayankogbe, 2016; Luck, Chumbley
& Rodriguez, 2016).
Imprisonment is one of the alternatives to punishment and according to
Sanda (2007:17-20), the objectives of sending one to prison are the
reformation of character, punishment (with a particular penalty) of the
offender and containment of the offender (to bring to an end his/her excesses)
and to deprive the individual of his/her certain rights all in order to ensure
correction of the person. Berlatsky (2010:14-21) and many others have
admitted that prison is the standard for anyone who commits a serious crime.
He also concurred that there are four justifications for establishing prisons and
imprisonment as punishment, deterrence, rehabilitation and public protection.
Jewkes (2008:194-6) has noted that punitive imprisonment is rationally meant
to prevent an individual from further committing offense/crime, retribution or
denunciation of the act, deterrence committing such offense or crime in the
future, rehabilitating or treating the prisoner to reduce his/her criminal
tendency. He further observed that there is no universal scale of
imprisonment, but rather, it is relatively determined by factors as crime rates,
public opinion towards crime, penal principles in operation, population,
economic factors and levels to which illicit drugs are used.
Currently, there are about 10.2 million prisoners worldwide while in
Europe, Britain and Wales has the highest rate of imprisonment with about 84,
372 inmates (Farley, Pike, Demiray & Tanglang, 2016). Jokes (2008: xvi; xvii
& 197) has noted that about half of all the prisons in the world are in the
United States with more than 2.19 million inmates and that of all penalties,
imprisonment is the most expensive economically and on human right and
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families. He further asserted that, contrary to the thinking of politicians and
the public, there is no direct correspondence between crime rates and
imprisonment, i.e. there is no direct relationship between the increase in crime
rate and increase in the rate of imprisonment, while levels of imprisonment
cannot be explained in terms of crime rates. He then raised questions as to
cases where and why the rate of imprisonment continues to rise, while the
crime rate is not falling? Do imprisoning more people reduce crime? It is
worth mentioning on this note that there hardly any specific statistics or figure
to reveal Nigerian prisons‟ population. Regarding prisons conditions, Miller
(as cited in Liebling & Maruna, 2005:1) lament that today‟s prison system and
arrangements are most terrible and capable of breeding the wrongs it is
established for and meant to correct. The situation is typical in Nigeria as also
lamented by Adeagbo, Asubiojo, Obadare & Akindojutimi, (2016) and
Akinnawo & Akpunne, (2016). According to the Nigerian Prison Service
statistics (as cited in Farley, Pike, Demiray & Tanglang, 2016), Nigeria has
240 prisons, which altogether comprise of about 57, 000 inmates (about 98%
males and 2% females), while 69% of the total inmates are un-convicted, and
the rate of imprisonment is 31 per 100, 000 persons.
The role of the Police to every justice system is first and most strategic
as noted by Forst (2004:69-70), the Police who are called first to receive
complaints, call for help or redress against any injustice. Inciardi (1996:177)
has also acknowledges the strategic role of the Police, which he maintained is
the largest and most visible part of justice process, but decries the Police
(discretion), which he lamented poses a problem, especially to the community
being served and in the process of discharging their functions as agents of law
enforcement, prevention and detection of crime, apprehension of criminal
offenders, protecting constitutional rights, promotion of civil order and
resolution of domestic and community conflicts. It is admitted that Police is
unique and strategic for the fact that they work round the clock with unlimited
jurisdiction and substantial authority; while serving as the hope for all with the
highest expectations of them (Grant & Toch, 2005:6). The Police functions in
modern society are categorised into three as law enforcement, order
maintenance and community service. However, because of the importance and
strategy of Police to any state and society, its functions are complex as
observed and identified as „police dilemma‟ (challenges facing the Police)
such as political pressure within the police itself, problems of the community
and other external elements that it is serving and domestic or interpersonal
violence, which require service or response at any time from the Police
(Bellessa, 2012: 64 & 84).
Nigerian Justice System
The Nigerian justice system which comprises of the Police, Courts and
the Prisons established with great influence of colonial orientation is currently
bedeviled by several problems as delay in police investigations, overuse of
prison sentences by the courts, non-adherence to the complainant, accused and
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prisoner rights, prisons congestions, and shortages of funds to the components
of the system (Cooper-Knock & Owen, 2015; John & Musa, 2014;
Badamasiuy & Bello, 2013). The system has over years, suffered a refuting
neglect leading to near total decay of the and culminating into several other
linked problems, while there is a geometric increase in the population of the
country without a commensurate increase in related facilities/infrastructures
and services. Like in other systems, however, errors of justice (through
interpretation, procedure and or laws execution) are part of human nature, and
thus very common in every justice system as noted by (Forst, 2004:69-70),
who also maintained that it (errors) often begin with the Police who are called
first after an alarm is raised. Likewise, sentencing is very crucial in every
justice system being the stage where and when a judge determines how a
convicted person is to be punished for the offence he/she is convicted of; it is
thus where policy and practice clash or complement each other and where
different sentences (minimum and maximum) interplay as maintained by
Carlson et al. (1999:96), while the punishments are imposed in order to
achieve social control, social change and also maintains order in the society
(Miethe & Lu, 2005: xi). Nigeria‟s criminal/civil justice system is, therefore,
not up to the reality in relation to the enormity of its dynamic and institutional
roles alongside the endemic problems it is facing. For example, up to this
moment, issues of forensic investigations, tests and analysis are either not or
poorly conducted, which are a great material for the justice system to rely on.
According to Malemi (2010:416), injustice, whether at the Police,
Courts or Prison comes in various forms such as abuse of power, exclusion of
the members of the Armed Forces or paramilitary, misuse of discretion,
arbitrary arrest and unlawful detention, unfair denial of bail, torture, criminal
punishment without fair trial, discrimination, unwarranted dismissal,
misappropriation of another‟s property, outright oppression and unfair or
inhuman conduct. Two of the main components of the Nigerian justice system
(Police and the Prisons) are directly and constitutionally controlled by the
federal government under exclusive powers (Section 214 of the 1999
Constitution of Nigeria), while the third (judiciary) is partly controlled by both
federal and states with various establishments (National Judicial Council) and
hierarchies of courts (Federal, States, Appeal Courts, etc.) at federal and state
levels with different jurisdictions and both original and appellate. But the
extent to which all the trio discharge their functions is hinged on both federal
and states domineering and at all the three levels of government. Therefore, in
terms of success and failure, all the three levels of government are affected
and also feel the effects.
The Courts
The Judiciary/Courts (of various types and hierarchies) are established
by Sections (6 & 230) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria and vested with the powers of the dispensation of justice among
citizens and governments all over the federation (Malemi, 2010:120-121). But
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over time, the Nigerian Courts‟ performance has been declining due to the rots
from a gross abuse of power (corruption) as stated by Nwabueze (2007:335).
Aboki & Ayua in Peters et al. (2009:32-48) also identified some of the
misdoings in Nigerian courts as manufacturing of facts, too many questions
during proceedings, open hostility to either of the parties, delay in trial,
excessive speed during trial; unnecessary adjournments, refusal to take or
grant applications, refusal to allow for or block attempts to reconciliation,
refusal to make trial records available, instant execution of judgment to
frustrate appeals; conversion of civil to criminal cases/offences, allowing a
party to benefit from wrongdoing, refusal to grant an accused persons on bail,
threats of committal for contempt; use of private information to make and
reach court decisions. In other words, corruption has set in, which Akinbiyi
(2003:203-4) describes as „„the act of an official or judiciary person who
unlawfully and wrongfully uses his station to procure some benefit for himself
or for another person contrary to duty and the rights of others‟‟ and where a
judicial officer uses his status or position in such a way as to gain an
advantage or secure a benefit for others, such a judicial officer is corrupt (see
also Supreme Court of Nigeria Report, October, 2016).
Similarly, the processes of compensation, restitution and restoration to
victims have been deliberately embedded by corruption in our courts. There is
also congestion in virtually all the courts, thereby becoming a carryover to the
prisons (congestion) which are attributed to adjournments and slow hearing of
the charges. According to Ajomo & Okagbue (1991:195), the courts are also
an integral part of the justice system problem as they are responsible for
excessive and unnecessary adjournments of cases, the inadequacy of
personnel on one hand and unlawful arrests and stern conditions attached to
bail processes. Most of the Courts are also over-burdened with cases, some of
which are deliberately delayed, frustrated, neglected. To surface the gravity of
judges predicaments in Nigeria, a recent report from the Supreme Court of
Nigeria reveals that there are over 5, 000 cases pending in the apex Court and
many of them which relate to politics and appeal date as far back as the year
2005 (Supreme Court Report, Abuja, 2016). To give a vivid picture of this
trend, Akinbiyi, (2003:205) has admitted that corruption has crept into the
Nigerian judiciary and urgent steps need to be taken as it is no longer
discussed under closed doors. For example, a field research has shown that
43% of Nigerians have agreed and insisted that the Nigerian judiciary is
mostly corrupt (Johnston & Shearing, 2001:44).
The Police
The term Police is coined from the Greek word „politiea‟ which
means government citizenship and exercise of authority over the citizens of a
state and the effective sustenance of every state and society is determined by
the efficiency of its law enforcement processes of which police is the key
(Stevens, 2003:3; Obasanjo & Mabogunje, 1992:27). The Police are keys in
any justice system with the first assignment (arrests and prosecution of
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suspects) and enforcement of laws lie with them. Policing functions form the
basis and bedrock of every justice system for the fact that the police plays first
and more strategic role in the whole system and the functions of the other two
(Courts and Prison) substantially depend on the police and its primary
functions and in terms of the dispensation of the justice itself. On both
constitutional and technical grounds of administering justice, the Police
possess extensive and instant powers of effecting arrests, conducting searches,
granting bail, observing and enforcing rights and rational prosecutions. Good
leadership and organizational structure are key to the effectiveness and
efficiency of every police establishment to ensure proper guidance in
operations and provide a strong mechanism for motivation and discipline in
the police service. The Nigeria Police is the singular Police Force in Nigeria
established by Section (214) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, which also
spells out its major functions as contained in Section (4) of the Police Act as:
prevention and detection of crime, apprehension of law offenders,
preservation of public laws and orders, enforcement of laws, protection of
lives and properties and performance of other military services upon
requirement. As per as the Nigerian Constitution is concerned, the
appointment of the top echelon of the Police is made by the Executive
President of Nigeria upon receipt of the advice of the National Police Council
and confirmation by the Nigerian Senate (Sections 215 [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] of
the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999).
The Nigeria Police Force like the other components of the justice
system is bedeviled with multifaceted problems of incompetence, corruption
within and outside it, shortage of logistics and qualified personnel, poor
remuneration, excessive politicization of the force and its services,
commercialization of recruitment and promotion in the force and gross abuse
of fundamental human rights, and has also been hit by ethnoreligious and
class interest and differences. Police administrators in Nigeria have reduced
and left a financial aspect of police service to clerical works, but only to
hijack everything when budgetary allocations and expenditures are to be
made. These have resulted in poor performance of the Nigeria Police and
consequent on the justice system with negatively dramatic consequences as
observed by Swanson et al. (1998:550) that poor financial allocation,
administration and management on the Police results in the corruption,
limiting service delivery, inadequacy of logistics, inadequate and up to date
training and generally poor service delivery to the public.
For the Nigeria Police Force to meet the current realities of the
Nigerian state and societies, protect their integrity, image and uphold the
ideals of the Nigerian justice system, the Police, Courts and the Prison must
restructure their services, evolve standard ethical competence and rise to meet
up with impending challenges of the contemporary justice system and
delivery. Similarly, policing the police should be given a top priority by the
public so that the police itself can be patrolled and investigations on matters
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carried out while any or all offenders of laws in the police itself be made to
account for their actions and where appropriate, be prosecuted as opined by
Gottschalk (2009:2). This is because the Police are in highly distrusted in
Nigeria due to their apparent dishonesty, corrupt tendencies, partiality in their
service delivery and a general reluctance to efficiency and effectiveness. A
survey conducted in 2005 has revealed that 59% of the respondents in Nigeria
do not trust the police at all; 71% say most police in Nigeria are corrupt (see
Johnston & Shearing, 2001:44 & 76). Similarly, recent studies have also
shown no improvement during the succeeding years from the above study (see
also Cooper-Knock & Karekwaivanane, 2016; Eke & Tonwe, 2016; Hickman,
Powell, Piquero & Greene, 2016; Hope, 2017; Agbiboa, 2015).
The general public in Nigeria thus sees the Police as an emblem of
discrediting and treachery. Miller & Blacker (2005:158) have also admitted
that all over the world, the problems of wrong and harmful methods used by
the Police are both routine and inescapable. However, both the state and
society can do much to check the unprecedented rate of Police abuse and
damage to the Nigerian justice system.
But on a fairground, Nigerians themselves have misunderstood and or
over-burdened the Police work as that of crime prevention, arrests of suspects,
prosecution of suspects and related services but those are only a meager
portion of police work in any state and society as there are key and strategic to
maintenance of laws, public order and safety, regulating traffic, mediating in
conflicts, bridging other social services provisions (child abuse, prostitution,
abandoned children, cases of teenage and unwanted pregnancies etc.).
Additionally, the public does little in terms of civic responsibilities which may
aid the Police in the discharge of their functions (see Chater III of the 1999
Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria). This misunderstanding and
over-burdening are negatively affecting the functions and image of the Police
before the Nigerian public. But all the same, the Police is also to blame for
partly shaping their image negatively through misuse their powers in what
Lustgarten (as cited in Miller, 2006:105) referred to as „decisional maneuver‟
meaning a Police officer‟s discretion to decide what to, arrest, charge or make
choice out the options available, e.t.c.
The following have been identified as the major factors responsible for
poor Police service in Nigeria and other African states: politicisation of the
police and its services; ineffective and inefficient communication
mechanisms; poor system of crime prevention, detection, investigation and
control; corruption, none or untimely response to distress calls and services,
extortion and police brutality on suspects; poor system of lodging complaints
against the police conduct (Johnston & Shearing, 2001:76-77). Alemika (as
cited in Johnston & Shearing, 2001:74) has lamented the nature and trend of
police service (recruitment, promotion, deployment) in states like Nigeria as
generally politicized, masked by ethnoreligious manipulations for the defense
of specific interests. One of the major challenges facing the police work in
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terms of justice administration is the issue of outdated Criminal and Penal
Codes Laws which also encompass different crimes, but not categorically
differentiated and therefore misleading both the police and the public as noted
by Grant & Toch (2005:7) thereby making the Police work more problematic
as result of masking different behaviours and crime incidents into one, for
example, similar crime, but committed by different individuals under different
circumstances and influences. Most of the times, manners of police and their
misconducts undermine proper discharge of their duties and damages police-
public relations while the more they do such, the more public perceive and
judge them with skepticism (Roberts, 2003:148-149).
The capacity, facilities and Police administration are some of the most
important and challenging issues in modern society given the weight and
expectations from such office such as playing interpersonal (leadership,
liaison, figurehead) and informal (monitoring and inspecting, dissemination
and spokesman), decision-making roles and communal roles and expectations
(Peak, 2004). Generally, the extent to which a society achieves a public order,
justice and stability are dependent upon its ability to forego or limit its rights,
commit substantial human material resources towards efficient Police service
delivery and citizens‟ ability to watch over the police work to ensure justice to
all (Swanson, et al., 1998:1). For the justice system to function well the
Nigeria police and the judiciary must establish and maintain a philosophy of
being the public and the public being them with the ultimate objective of
protecting public interests.
The Prisons
McCorkle & Korn (1954) have defined prison as an erected structure
with a specified number of confined inmates and living under a specially
provided state of affairs in a social environment that is uniquely dissimilar to
the general and free societal life. The British colonial masters began the
establishment of their justice system by building their own model of prisons
and courts around 1861 in Lagos which is what the present justice system is
bearing with of course structural and functional changes. With the increase in
population, crime rate and development, however, the number of prisons
keeps increasing. Prisons congestion (with poor records nationwide) now
constitutes the prime problem with the efficiency of the Nigerian prisons as
virtually all the country‟s prisons are filled beyond capacity. The prisons are
further devastated by shortages of medical, health and sanitary facilities, loss
of the essence of the establishment (as correction centres) and instead are now
places for breeding hard criminals, drug addicts, and centres for sale and
consumption of hard drugs. According to Sanda (2007:9), congestion of
prison rears its ugly head right from the inadequacies of the police in adhering
to their statutory duties.
Many other scholars attribute prisons congestion to high increase in
crime rate, which in turn are caused by a decline in religious beliefs and
practices among Nigerians; fragmentation in families with cases of divorces
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aiduguri
Sahel Analyst: ISSN 1117- 4668 Page 115
and abandoned children, children given birth to outside marriage leading to
delinquency, drug abuse/addiction, prostitution; and excessive materialism
which is manifested in many Nigerians‟ desire to get rich without recourse to
legal or moral means (Sanda, 2007:4-6). One other main reason for prison
congestion is the failure of the courts to effectively discharge their functions,
thereby leading to the detention of more suspects as the only alternative to
keep them under the law as applicable to the police who most often have
congested cells and also resort to the alternative of remand in prison custody.
It is also worthy of note that the largest number of inmates in Nigerian prisons
are those awaiting trial or under prosecution, which signifies that only a small
proportion of the inmates are those convicted and sentenced for one offence or
the other and for various prison terms (Akinnawo & Akpunne, 2016; Sanda,
2007:10).
Prisons in Nigeria have become a pipe for diverting public resources;
the prisons have become centres of excelling in crime, hot spots for drug
abuse, addiction and trade, female criminals becoming victims of rape, e.t.c.,
(Lawan, Amole & Shuaib, 2016; Omili, Ofili & Omuemu, 2013). While the
inmates live an idle and unproductive correctional life. Because of these
multitude factors, Nigerian prisons are more on producing further deviants
than the corrected individuals, thus setting a negative trend (Salaam, 2013). It
is not the high rate of crime alone that actually results in prisons congestion or
fluctuation of the prison population, but also the efficiency and effectiveness
of the judicial system. In Nigeria, although crime rates are becoming higher
by the day, the justice system contributes to the high or low population in
prisons as alternative preferences before the courts to (state‟s interest on the
suspects/criminals, fine, imprison, both or discharge/acquit a person) play a
key role.
Recent experience has shown that most Nigerian prisons are now
centres for excelling in both individual, corporate and sophisticated crime
commissions and abuse of rights, while the state resources allocated for
maintaining them has become overbearing on the public purse thus the
dilapidating conditions of prisons all over the country (Olashore, Akanni &
Olashore, 2017; Lawan, Amole & Shuaib, 2016; Osasona & Koleoso, 2015;
Joshua, Dangata, Audu & Nmadu, 2014). A fundamental damage resulting
from congestion in Nigerian prisons is a reduction of qualitative control on
inmates as the numbers of personnel (prison warders) employed and meant to
oversee the inmates and manage the prisons is overburdened. Internally and
among the inmates, there exist a gap between ideal prison condition and
reality reflecting the less reformative role, deteriorating medical, health and
hygienic conditions and the possibility of an increased loose relationship
among the inmates, which itself breeds more criminals both within and
outside the prison environment (Cohen, Chatterjee & Minas, 2016; Armiya‟u
& Adole, 2015). From the fiscal/economic point of view, the costs of
maintaining prisons are always rapidly increasing when compared to other
Nigerian Justice System: The Ideal, Hope and Reality
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public expenditures due to the fact that the prison service is labour intensive
(Finkelstein, 1993:1).
Complainant, Accused/Suspects, and their Constitutional Rights - An
Overview
Human rights are natural, inherent and innate in every individual borne
with it and such rights are given to every person as humankind is created with
rights and no individual needs anything to be able to exercise his human and
fundamental rights such as those of life, dignity, personal liberty and private
life, association, thought and conscience, movement and religion among
others (Joshua, et al., 2014; Salaam, 2013; Malemi, 2010:113). In the Nigerian
constitution and legal system, both the complainant and
defendant/accused/suspect have certain fundamental rights as enshrined in the
constitution which include among others: rights to obtain the services of a
counsel, to rehabilitation and re-integration into the society, fair hearing
during trial, call and or cross-examine witnesses brought against one,
make/file an appeal when a sentence passed is unsatisfactory, early notice of
the charges against one, and one should not be compelled to excessive
punishment that is greater than the offense committed, should not be forced to
confess or plead guilty, and should not be arrested until there are sufficient
reasons to do so.
The rights of an accused person in a trial, according to Malemi
(2010:293) include: pre-trial (life, human dignity, personal liberty), trial (fair
hearing/natural justice) and post-trial (inclusive of all constitutional rights),
especially where the person (convict) is appealing a court‟s decision. Going
by the constitutional provisions, an arrested person should be informed in
writing and orally in the language he/she understands why he/she is being
arrested, detained or on what charges (Section 33 of the 1999 Constitution of
Nigeria). According to Section (36 [c]), everyone charged with a criminal
offense is automatically entitled to be given adequate time, the necessary and
required facilities to prepare for defense which can be by oneself or any
counsel of choice. But because of the problems which have embedded the
Nigerian justice system, instead of this constitutional rights and provisions, it
is economic, political status and influence/connection of
complainants/suspects that determine the extent to which their rights to bail,
fair hearing up to the final judgment are observed. The Police, Courts and
Prison are separately and collectively responsible for both flagrant cases of
abuse of human rights, corruption and prisons congestion in Nigeria. The
dispensation of justice is further complicated by poor communication and road
networks, especially in the rural and agrarian areas, availability of
jurisdictional courts, shortage of personnel (especially the police in rural
areas), and incompetence of the personnel, corruption and political
interference.
The Nigerian justice system personnel employ means of intimidation, induced
confessions, torture, denial of granting bail, playing the accused against one
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another, distortion of information and exhibits, deliberately confusing and
frustrating witnesses and leaking information to suspects etc., to manipulate
cases to their advantages. In Nigeria, a suspect or an accused person is
generally faced by and confronted with legal abuses, societal stigmatization
and various manipulations of technicalities of law enforcement processes
which often confuse the suspects and create a feeling of psychological defeat,
shame and guilt. Although the various constitutions make vivid provisions on
the rights of individuals, the extent to which these rights are observed is
determined by the willingness and commitment of the operators of the justice
system to ensure strict compliance. Every generation of people must seek to
advance and extend human rights. Any country or society that respects and
protects human rights will be freer, safer and more prosperous and therefore,
every country and society must incorporate human rights into its legal
practices and general lifestyle (Malemi, 2006:120-1).
Nigerian Justice System and Legal Aid Services
Legal aid is the provision of free legal services and support to persons
who cannot afford to have such on their own due to poverty, illiteracy et
cetera. According to Section (46 [4]) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria,
Nigerian citizens are to have such legal services free of any charge so that
their rights could be fully respected and preserved irrespective of whatever
may be their status, especially the poor and uneducated ones and de-
emphasise materialism in dispensation of justice to the citizens. This, as
Malemi (2010:415) has noted, started in Nigeria with private legal
practitioners gesture until the official establishment of the government‟s Legal
Aid Council during the Murtala / Obasanjo regime through Decree No. 56,
1976. It was a milestone towards observance and enforcement of rights, but
Nigeria has one of the worst legal aid services in services because injustice,
corruption, ignorance of existing laws, rights and privileges have rendered the
services of both the Nigerian Legal Aid Council and those of other private and
Non-Governmental organizations as well as charitable organizations
insignificant. In fact, as far as the Nigerian Legal Council (established and
managed by public fund) is concerned, the essence of the establishment and
functions are waning over the time due to other additional problems of
negligence, poor or no awareness of the council‟s existence and services,
geometric increase in population and Nigerian system dynamics.
Conclusion
The hopes of both the state and society rest squarely in the justice system to
ensure peace, security and protection for all. There cannot be any peace,
stability, progress and development without a sound justice system in any
nation or state and ability to dispense justice squarely rests with the justice
system. Any state or society that lacks an efficient justice system has potential
threats to its socio-societal security and stability. The Nigerian justice system
has been marred by the actions and inactions of its components through
Nigerian Justice System: The Ideal, Hope and Reality
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among others in violation of rights such as deliberate and calculated dawdling
trials, torture and extortion of suspects, deliberate complication in bailing
process and or refusal to grant so, the incessant transfer of suspects in custody
from one Police Station to another and deliberate call for external interference
are the main marring factors. The rights of complainants, suspects and
detainees are grossly violated despite numerous legal provisions against such;
those awaiting trials are large in number and mostly fall victims of the
inadequacies of the Nigerian justice system and remain in the worst conditions
in comparison to those convicted and sentenced. Congestion in Nigerian
prisons is attributed to the roles of all the components of the entire justice
system (the Police, Courts and Prisons) - attitude to work, incompetence,
shortage of personnel and poor management of and access to and records as
well as corruption.
All the respective Constitutions of Nigeria have made elaborate
provisions and guaranteed observance and enforcement of fundamental rights
but there are turbulent problems in the observance and enforcement
procedures. Something tangible has to be done immediately to save the system
from total collapse and also save the image of Nigeria, restore hope in the
common man and ensure a just and an orderly society. For every justice
deferred, delayed or derailed by anyone through whatever means is justice
denied and injustice in whatever form breeds instability. For the Justice
system to be effective and efficient the Police must realise its strategic role
and importance and live up to same, the judiciary must in addition to its
knowledge and experience be versatile in knowing the reality of prisons
conditions of feeding, accommodation, health, inmates carrying in relation to
prison workers and governments strength to maintain the prisons; with
effective information flow and feedback of past sentences and resultant effects
of same in relation to subsequent past sentences, judgements and commission
of crime.; while the prisons must strictly serve their purposes of
establishment.
Recommendations
This article has made the following recommendations for future
studies and the government in order for the Nigerian justice system to be
dynamic, efficient and relevant to the Nigerian state and society:
i. A new study focused on why there is an increase in the rate of crime in
Nigeria, despite the high rate of imprisonment and prison congestion and
why the number of female inmates is on the increase in Nigerian prisons
should be carried.
ii. There should be the immediate and proper rehabilitation of all the
country prisons and detention centres to ensure the steady provision of
basic infrastructures.
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iii. Components of the justice system should put hands together and ensure
efficiency in the works of the system, especially in the related processes
of arrests, detention, bail and prosecution.
iv. Greater and extensive enlightenment should be carried out to specially
sensitize citizens on the works of Civil Liberties Organizations, Legal
Aid Councils and Human Rights Commissions so as to check the extent
of human rights abuses at the Police custody, prisons and courts.
v. The general rehabilitation and reintegration policies and programmes of
the government should be improved and popularized more to ensure
optimum utilization of such by the prisoners, convicts and ex-convicts.
vi. The rulings of the judiciary should be strictly adhered to especially by
governments and the police.
vii. There should be a standard and maintained population statistics of all
inmates in the various Nigerian prisons in order to ensure proper
planning of logistics and manpower to manage the prisons.
viii. Those who may be erroneously or deliberately made victims of crime,
detention or torture should be made to enjoy substantial compensation
from either the state or those who inflicted such damages on them.
ix. Courts should henceforth be located within short proximity from the
police stations and posts to ensure easy and effective conveyance of the
accused.
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... Respondents' fear of being sued or jailed for attempting CPR could have been based upon their experience with the nation's judiciary system which is riddled with lack of fair hearing, delays and other difficulties [34]. Notwithstanding, litigation for personal reasons is not commonplace among Nigerians, and it is unlikely to get sued for attempting to rescue in an emergency situation. ...
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Introduction Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) is a major cause of sudden cardiac death which can be prevented by early cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). International bodies recommend that basic life support (BLS) skills be taught in schools in order to increase the rate of bystander CPR and reduce mortality from OHCA. We are not aware of any BLS education program for non-healthcare students in Nigeria. This study was to assess the awareness and attitude to acquiring BLS skills among university students. Methods We conducted a cross-sectional study among final year university undergraduates using a questionnaire that assessed students' sociodemographic characteristics, awareness of CPR, previous experiences, and attitude to basic life support (BLS). Counts and proportions were compared for the demographic characteristics using Chi-squared and Fisher's exact tests. Results Four hundred and seventy-five students from 15 faculties participated in this study, median age was 22.8 years (interquartile range: 21.2–24.5 years). Majority (82.5%) have heard of CPR, 29.7% have undergone CPR training; 77.3% of those who had been trained were confident that they could perform CPR. Previous CPR training was significantly associated with faculty, year of study and age. Eighty-nine (18.7%) students have witnessed someone die from a trauma. Four hundred and fifty (94.7%) respondents would like to get BLS training, 440 (92.6%) think that CPR training should be included in the school curriculum. Conclusion There is good awareness and positive attitude to the acquisition and practice of cardiopulmonary resuscitation among university students in Nigeria. Few students however, have been trained to administer bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Therefore, there is a need to implement university wide BLS education in Nigeria.
... -In the international system/order, it is the international structure that forces all states to seek to achieve, and prioritize security for survival and achieving other interests there connected with (Long, 2017). (Shehu, et al., 2017). -Environment (pollution) -Onitsha is the most polluted city in the world (produces 600 micrograms of PM10s per cubic metre); Aba, Umuahia, Kaduna are some of the most polluted cities in the world (World Health Organisation, 2016). ...
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