BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Police officers are state employees tasked with the responsibility of ‘law enforcement and order maintenance’ in society. The police have the power to use force, including violence, in order to carry out these twin missions. Police officers’ use of force or violence is regulated by national constitutions and legislation, international agreements and norms, police departmental policies, and professional ethics. Despite these rules, the police in the majority of countries use excessive force and cruelty.
It is a widely held belief that the police are your friends. However, in a nation like Nigeria, the reverse is true. It is apparent that the majority of the population sees police officers badly and does not regard them as friends (Omilana, 2019). Around the globe, police officers are governmental authority charged with enforcing the law and preserving social order. When required, police officers may be entitled to use reasonable force in carrying out their responsibilities. The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Police Act, international agreements, professional ethics, and other regulations all regulate and limit the use of force by police in carrying out their statutory duties. Despite these regulations, police officers in many societies use excessive force beyond what is permitted by law in carrying out their duties, flagrantly violating the rule of law and resorting to extrajudicial killings, torture, and subjecting civilians or citizens to all manner of inhumane and ill-treatment; unfortunately, these are the same citizens they previously swore to protect (Segun, 2016).
Security is a major objective of every administration. The role is emphasized in the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which stipulates that “the security and well-being of the people must be the government’s basic objective” (Segun, 2016). The government entrusted the responsibility for ensuring internal security to the Nigerian police. Nigerian law mandates that the police prevent and detect crime, preserve public order, and enforce all applicable laws and regulations. They are required to fulfill their obligations effectively and efficiently. With the country’s high incidence of insecurity, everyone’s concern is on whether the police performed their jobs as expected. The majority of people feel that the Nigerian police do not live up to their performance standards. They come upon a toothless dog that can only bark and is incapable of biting. Odekunle (2014) said that it is unnecessary to demonstrate the Nigerian police’s ineffectiveness poor the present circumstances. Rather than that, it is necessary to identify the core inadequacies, challenges, and obstructions that contribute to the circumstance. The Nigerian police force is a vital part of the civil society of the nation. As a consequence, in addition to the many issues that have harmed their performance over the years, they have human issues that not only aggravate their material shortcomings, but also have a considerable negative influence on their total performance from day to day (Odekunle, 2004).
Corruption is one of the obstacles to Nigeria’s national development and economic growth. Between 1983 and 1998, the former military rule justified its removal of the government on the grounds of corruption. Additionally, former President Olusegun Obasanjo labeled corruption as “the country’s most serious issue” during his first term inauguration address, stating that it “pervades all spheres of human existence, from the family to both public and private organizations” (Igbuzor, 2008& Adebayo 2005). Corruption has become a pervasive issue that has seeped far into society’s core and has practically been ingrained as a way of life. According to Inokoba and Ibegu (2011), “corruption has permeated so deeply into Nigeria’s body politics that its practice is seen more as a cultural standard than an aberration. People have absorbed the concept that hard labor, honesty, and integrity, all of which contribute to the essence of humankind, are no longer deserving values since one can get or earn so much with so little effort. Bribery, fraud, embezzlement, extortion, favoritism, and nepotism are all examples of corrupt behaviors in Nigeria (Aluko, 2009). These activities have harmed national growth, political stability, and good governance, resulting in extreme difficulties, a high rate of unemployment, the aggravation of poverty and inequality, and substandard service delivery, such as power and water supplies.
The police force is one of society’s most vital organizations. They are entrusted with the responsibility to safeguard the citizen, even if it means resorting to violence. The Police are held to a higher standard than the majority of contemporary professional employment. They are required to be courageous and exhibit no human feeling such as fear, astonishment, or surprise, even in the face of grave calamities such as death or deformity. Without a doubt, peace, safety, and security are both necessary and indispensable components of any human society’s development and attainment of a high standard of living. They provide the necessary enabling environment for people to live in and contribute to the society’s social, economic, and political growth (Groenewald & Peake, 2004). The importance of peace, safety, and security to humanity cannot be overstated, as any society’s socioeconomic and political development is contingent upon the security system in place. By the same token, their absence stifles human potential for development and significantly impairs both individual and societal development and quality of life. Additionally, insecurity has a detrimental effect on all people via property, life, and limb losses, as well as a loss of confidence due to fear of violence. This is why providing safety and security is seen as a reasonable public benefit and the very core of the state (Lubuva, 2004). Human safety and security are, in fact, human rights with inherent worth that contribute to the creation of human satisfaction and success (Odinkalu 2005)
Despite the critical role they are obliged to perform in safeguarding the public and maintaining law and order, the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) is often seen by the public as a corrupt agency. This is because the media reports on police brutality on a regular basis. Corrupt practices within the Nigerian police force are so pervasive that despite the government’s various attempts at policy and regulatory control, corruption remains impossible to handle. Due to the inadequacy of government initiatives to combat corruption, the problem of police misbehavior has become an ethical minefield.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Despite its critical function in safeguarding the public and maintaining law and order, the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) is often perceived as a corrupt organization by the public owing to their prevalent involvement in fraudulent actions. This is because everyday stories in the media allege police corruption (Inokoba & Ibegu 2011). The inherent crooked nature of its rank and file, reports of police officers seeking bribes from criminals, charges of police demanding money from traffic violators, and so forth, all contribute to the force’s inability to fulfill its tasks properly. Nigerians’ failure and the public’s continual unwillingness to report crimes undoubtedly add to the force’s incompetence. Many individuals are frightened that an honest person who reports a crime would be made into a suspect rather than applauded. Due of the associated consequences, many individuals may see a crime occurring yet turn a blind eye to it (Okoh, 2019). Another fault of the force is its failure to take disciplinary force against liable agents found guilty of participating in fraudulent behavior. This has resulted in the people losing complete faith in the system.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The primary objective of this study is to assess the public impression of the Nigerian police force on fraudulent act using the force head quarters, Abuja as a case study. Specifically, other objectives of this study are:
i. Determine the prevalence of fraudulent acts among the Nigerian Police Force.
ii. Determine whether the public has a positive impression of the extent of fraudulent acts carried out by the Nigerian police.
iii. Determine whether the Nigerian police force’s engagement in fraudulent acts influences the public impression of police officers.
iv. Determine whether the Nigerian Police force’s engagement in fraudulent acts influences the public impression of its code of conduct and integrity.
The following research questions will be answered in this study:
i. What is the prevalence of fraudulent acts among the Nigerian Police Force?
ii. Does the public have a positive impression of the extent of fraudulent acts carried out by the Nigerian police?
iii. Does the Nigerian police force’s engagement in fraudulent acts influences the public impression of police officers?
iv. Does the Nigerian Police force’s engagement in fraudulent acts influences the public impression of its code of conduct and integrity?
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The findings of this study will be beneficial for future research and will add to the body of knowledge. It will educate policymakers about the critical nature of quick reforms to the Nigerian Police Force. It will raise the government’s pressure to supervise the Nigeria Police Force’s activities continuously to ensure that officers do not exceed their authority or engage in fraudulent acts.
Additionally, the findings of this research work will undoubtedly provide the much needed information to government organizations, NPF, individuals, NGOS, and academia on the extent of police engagement in fraudulent acts and the effects it has on the citizens.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study will focus on the assessment of public impression on Nigeria police force on fraudulent act. It will precisely be focused on determining the prevalence of fraudulent acts among the Nigerian Police Force, determining whether the public has a positive impression of the extent of fraudulent acts carried out by the Nigerian police, determining whether the Nigerian police force’s engagement in fraudulent acts influences the public impression of police officers, and determining whether the Nigerian Police force’s engagement in fraudulent acts influences the public impression of its code of conduct and integrity.
This research will be carried out in Ikotun, Lagos State
LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This study will be limited to the assessment of public impression on Nigeria police force on fraudulent act. It will precisely be limited to determining the prevalence of fraudulent acts among the Nigerian Police Force, determining whether the public has a positive impression of the extent of fraudulent acts carried out by the Nigerian police, determining whether the Nigerian police force’s engagement in fraudulent acts influences the public impression of police officers, and determining whether the Nigerian Police force’s engagement in fraudulent acts influences the public impression of its code of conduct and integrity.
This research will be carried out in the police force headquarters in Abuja using selected police officers, thus the sample size was limited because only a few respondents were chosen to answer the research instrument, therefore the results cannot be generalized to other secondary schools outside the state.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Assessment: The action of assessing someone or something.
Impression: An idea, feeling, or opinion about something or someone, especially one formed without conscious thought or on the basis of little evidence.
Fraudulent acts: Deliberately deceitful, dishonest, or untrue.