HISTORY OF THE NIGERIA POLICE FORCE
The Nigeria Police Force had its origin in Lagos, the then Federal Capital , more than a hundred and thirty years ago. The British Consul charged with the Administration of the Colony of Lagos, complained that he had numerous duties assigned to him amongst which was the maintenance of law and order, and in April 1861, permission was obtain from his principal in London to establish a Consular Guard comprising of 30 men.
Two years later in 1863, this small body of men became known as the “Hausa Guard”. It was further regularized in 1879 by an Ordinance creating a Constabulary for the Colony of Lagos. An Inspector-General of Police commanded this Force recruited mainly from Hausas and known as the “Hausa Constabulary”. The Force was mainly military in character, although the men performed some civil Police duties.
On 1st January 1896, the Lagos Police Force was created and armed like the “Hausa Constabulary”. A Commissioner of Police who was also sheriff, Inspector of weights and measures and the officer in charge of the prisons headed it. Criminal Investigation Department at Alagbon Close, Ikoyi, Lagos was established in 1901 a Fire Brigade was added.
While the developments were taking place in Lagos and part of the Yoruba heartland, the areas now known as Edo, Delta, Akwa Ibom, River and Cross River States were declared the Oil Rivers protectorate in 1891 with Headquarters at Calabar where an armed constabulary was formed. In 1893 the area was proclaimed the Niger Coast Constabulary, modeled on the Hausa Constabulary, was formed. It existed for six years and featured prominently in the British expedition to Benin in 1896.
In the Northern parts of the Country the Royal Niger Company, which was granted a Royal Charter in 1886 by the British Government, set up the Royal Niger Constabulary in 1888 with Headquarters at Lokoja to protect its installations along the banks of the River Niger. It had a mounted company known as Carrol’s Hoses. The Royal Niger Constabulary played an important role in British campaigns against Bida and Ilorin.
When the British Government in 1900 following the transfer of administration from the Royal Niger Company proclaimed protectorates of Northern and Southern Nigeria, the Royal Niger Constabulary was split into the Northern Nigeria Police Force and the Northern Nigeria Regiment.
In the South, the Lagos Police Force and part of the Niger Coast Constabulary became the southern Nigeria Police Force in 1906 while the bulk of the Niger Coast Constabulary formed the southern Nigeria Regiments. In addition to normal Police duties the new Police Forces were responsible for dealing with internal disturbances and external aggression.
After the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria in 1914 both Police Forces continued to operate separately until 1st April 1930 when they were merged to form the present Nigeria Police Force with Headquarters in Lagos, commanded by an Inspector-General of Police. The tittle of Inspector-General of Police was replaced with Commissioner in 1937 but the original tittle was reverted to in 1951 after introduction of a new constitution. The designation Commissioner was assigned to the Officers then in charge of the Regions.
The creation of twelve (12) states On 27th May 1967, which was used as Police Commands with each headed by a Commissioner of Police, rose to Nineteenth (19) in 1976. On 14th October 1986 Zonal Commands headed by Assistant Inspector-General of Police each was introduced to conform with the Political structure of the Country. In 1986, 1991 and 1996 additional states were created thereby changing the Federal structure to thirty-six (36) states and equally providing for thirty seven (37) Police Commands including FCT, Abuja and Twelve (12) Zonal Commands in the Country while the Force Headquarters operates as a Police Command.