This article critically and empirically examines the everyday problem of corrupt policing and related abuses in urban Nigeria, with attention to the threat posed to ordinary Nigerians’ basic human rights. The analysis, sociohistorically anchored, foregrounds colonial and military policies that have entrenched a culture of predation in the Nigeria Police Force. The article contributes to existing scholarship by directly relating corrupt and abusive policing to complex sociohistorical conditions, rather than seeing it as a purely managerial problem, whose solution lies in simplistic demands for internal reform. The article attempts to fill a gap in empirical scholarship by approaching corrupt and abusive policing from the angle of everyday practice, rather than by taking normative structural approaches and basing suppositions of actual behavior upon these. The article draws on evidence from eight months of ethnographic fieldwork research in Lagos State, southwestern Nigeria. The fieldwork evidence is supported by analyses of public discourse, a review of extant literature, some semiformal interviews, a review of national constitutions and international human rights law, and historical research. These together suggest conclusions pertinent to democratic reform of the Nigerian police.


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pp. 94-126
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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