Nigeria: March 21, 2002

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The government is trying to reorganize and reform it's police, security and intelligence forces in order to better deal with the violence that has broken out during the past three years. Some 10,000 people have died in ethnic, political and religious violence since the military dictatorship was overthrown three years ago. The problems are many. The low paid law enforcement officials regularly use extortion and other forms of corruption to supplement their income. Powerful local officials often "adopt" local police by, in effect, putting them on the payroll. But the problems with the police are basically one of numbers. The large cities have only one cop per thousand population, while the international standard (based on experience) is one policeman per 400 population. Crime is literally out of control, causing the police in large cities to form special "combat unit" that have orders to shoot on sight if they see civilians with weapons.

 

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