THE NIGERIA POLICE AND MOCKERY OF COMMON GOOD (A Critical Investigation)
1.0 GENERAL INTRODUCTION
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Mind cast on some capitalist societies shows that sometimes, pursuit of personal interest overrides and militates against the realization of common good. Ipso facto, Nigerian society has not been an exception to this. Yet, the fact still remains that it is in working together for the common good or welfare that one achieves one’s private good, and not the reverse. This is because the adoption of a capitalist system does not presuppose a society where the sense of justice and mutual co-existence is totally lost. Hence, some social philosophers have become exponents and defenders of common good of the human society. No wonder Aristotle holds that man is a social being. That is to say that the goals which man sets for himself, are those he pursues in common with other men. This, as a matter of fact, defines the existence of human society. Taking a cursory look on one of the reasons why man seeks to live in a society:…is to attain the fullness or end of his life, which is achieved only when it is integrated in a body of social communication.1 Thus, the society more or less, exists for the realization of the common good of the whole. But it seems that even people, who suppose to make others adhere to the promotion of common good, are sometimes found to be those who directly or indirectly oppress the common good. The Nigeria police for example, sometimes go against the common good of the members of the society, which results in loss of lives and property here and there, and they swim in the ocean of indiscipline and corruption in the force. This is because there is a gruesome pursuit of private interest and so, the end for which man comes together in a society is seriously defeated.
Thus, in this social ill, human right and dignity is compromised. It is on this that Pope John Paul II holds that “respect for the dignity of the person which implies the defense and promotion of human rights, demands the recognition of the religious dimension of the individual”.2 This is in consonance with social, economic and political order respectful of the dignity, freedom and fundamental rights of each person. There exist both fundamental and other human rights, which every citizen should enjoy. This underscores the urgency of promotions of such common good. There are several definitions of common good. In general parlance, common good highlights a specific good that is shared by and beneficial to all, or most members of a given community, and also this is how this common good is broadly understood in philosophy, ethics and political science. The idea of common good could also be seen in certain degree, as the general welfare of the people. Nevertheless, sometimes people propound certain theories in criticism of the idea of common good. There is, for instance, a theory called psychological egoism, which argues that man is selfish and self-seeking by nature, and so, every person always seeks his interest in whatever he does.
According to this theory, whenever a person does anything, he does it only because he has seen that somehow (either directly or indirectly, either immediately or in the future) he will derive some benefits for himself from it.3 The theory claims that behind any human action, there is always a selfish motive which prompts it and which acts as its driving force. Thus, any human action could aim at a selfish desire for fame, a desire for wealth, a desire for praise, a desire for money, a desire for power etc. But, one may not have to say for sure that this theory completely holds water. If it were true, then, it would be impossible to be altruistic, since altruism is the very opposite of egoism. Altruism has been found to be a moral ideal; the more morally mature a person is, the more altruistic he becomes, and the more morally immature he is, the more egoistic he is. According to J. Omeregbe, the truth is that man has, by nature, the potentialities for both selfishness and altruism because he is by nature, both individual and social.4 But why does a human society exist? One can say that society exists in order to ensure the free movement of the individual members in the pursuit of their interest as a community. This underscores the notion of common good, which is part of what we set out to consider in this work. Man realizes his private good more genuinely when it is pursued in the general or common good of the society in which he belongs.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM.
Every civil society exists for the realization of common good of the social whole.5 This underscores the establishment of some institutions or bodies that would be charged with the responsibility of helping to achieve, promote or realize this common good. The police force, then, is one of such institutions. As a matter of fact, the basis for establishment of police force is mostly geared towards the welfare of the society.6 However, it has been found out that in Nigeria, there are instances where insecurity of life and property are rather found in the hands of security agents, who leave the common good in pursuit of private interests. When this becomes the case, there is no promotion but the mockery of common good. This is when law enforcement agents become lawless themselves. They are even seen to use their police authority to pursue their selfish interest, to the extent of using bullying and killing to the detriment of the general welfare of the people, of which they are called to protect. Lives and properties are lost in the hands of those meant to protect them.
But a person is not meant to be subject to whomever that can control him by force without regard for reason of law (common good of the whole) and order of a society. When this prevails in a society, Thrasymanchus’ ‘might is right’ reigns, where the stronger (armed policemen) takes along what belongs to the society. Injustice becomes the order of the day, where the rights of the weak and poor, are trampled on.7 The problem then becomes: who, after all, guards the guardians, if the entire common good is to be realized. This is a question that has bedeviled man for a long time. The recent excesses and illegalities of our respected police force, give special urgency to the question of control over and accountability of our police establishment. Certainly, the sight of such ill activities of some of our police officers intimidating its citizens, or interrupting the flow of life of justice, is sufficiently unnerving to force us to seek answers to the challenge.
1.3 SCOPE AND PURPOSE OF THE STUDY.
In this research work, my realm of concentration and concern will be limited to the consideration of notion of common good by some thinkers and then use it to investigate into only some ill activities of Nigeria police that militates against the general welfare of the people. As a matter of fact, Nigeria police has cases where they promote common good, but I shall only limit myself to some cases of their negation of common good. The purpose or objective of this research is streamlined towards exposing certain indiscipline and corruptive activities of Nigerian police force that ridicule the realization of common good of the people, which defines the role of police institution, and which underscores the fundamental end of a civil society. It seems that this work sets to answer, to some extent, the question: who will guard the guardians for the realization of common good. Hence, the aim is to consider perhaps, some possible solutions to the problem.
1.4 METHOD OF THE RESEARCH
The method used in this work is strictly expository in the sense that it portrays some police misconducts with a view to proffer possible solutions; investigative because it is a search for instances of police misconducts; critical because of its reasonableness and that it is given to expressing severe judgments of what the police ought to be; and evaluative in the sense that it assesses the value of common good in relation to the end for which a civil society exists. Thus, for proper handling of this task, the work is divided into five chapters with sub-headings under each one. Chapter one will be a general introduction. Chapter two has to do with literature review, ontology of common good, obstacles that hinder common good and then, the common good and institutions. In chapter three, we shall consider an understanding of an act of policing, roles of police in a society, the structure of police force in Nigeria, and philosophy of police service. Chapter four, will furnish us with some instances or cases of police mockery of common good in Nigeria. Then, the final chapter is all about a critical evaluation, an attempt to proffer some solutions and then conclusion of the whole work.
1 J. Maritain, The person and The Common Good, (Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1947), p. 48
2 Pope John Paul 11, Christi Fides Laiti (Owerri: Assumpta Press, No. 15)
3 J. Omoregbe, Ethics: A Systematic and Historical Study,(Lagos: Joja Press Ltd, 2001), P. 79.
4 Ibid., P. 80
5J. Maritain, op. cit. P. 50
6 The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1979, chapter VI, part III, section 195, No. 3 and 4, P. 73.
7 S.E. Stumpf, Philosophy: History and Problems (5th ed.), (U.S.A.: McGraw-Hill Inc., 1994), P.33-34.