You are currently viewing Ending Police Brutality in Nigeria and the United States
Photo by Tope A. Asokere

Ending Police Brutality in Nigeria and the United States

Using a Sociological Perspective to Assess Police Brutality in Nigeria

If there is any field of study that its roles would be over emphasized in our society, sociology and anything within its realm must be excluded. As medical doctors understand symptomatic nature of illness from the human body and give out prescriptions, so do the sociologists to the societal issues. One problem is police brutality in Nigeria.

Police Brutality in Nigeria and the United States

A cosmopolitan issue of police brutality that led to the scores of death in Nigeria which  birthed the current protests in some states with the hashtag #ENDSARS  were ignited by a video clip that went viral on social media. The video allegedly shows an officer of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) shooting a young boy at Ughelli of Delta State on 3rd October, 2020.

Similarly, in U.S, Derek Chauvin, a white Police officer On 25th May, 2020, knelt on an American African George Floyd for about nine minutes in an arrest after it was alleged that he had passed a counterfeit $20 bill in Minneapolis which led to his death. After his death, protests against police brutality, especially toward black people, quickly spread across the United States and internationally.

Nigeria’s EndSARS Movement

In response to the protesters’ demands, the Federal Government of Nigeria on October 11th, announced the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). Yet, the protests continued. To sociologists, this must be connected with the impacts of coronavirus that hardened the hardship caused by the already existing social problems such as poverty, unemployment, and homelessness to mention but a few.

Analysis of Police Brutality in Nigeria and the United States

And with regard to why things happen and work as they do, Sociologists study the patterns of social structure and social events. And in trying to expound the aforesaid social occurrences, they develop paradigms.

A sociological theory seeks to explain social phenomena. Theories can be used to create a testable proposition, called a hypothesis, about society.

Looking at the effects of police brutality that led to protests in United States tagged “Black Lives Matter” and the current protests in Nigeria with the hashtag #ENDSARS, macro-level theory would be used which relates to large-scale issues and large groups of people.

Sociologists may use what they call functionalist theory in explaining this issue since the central argument of the theory views society as a structure with interrelated parts designed to meet the needs of the individuals in that society be it biological or social.

Herbert Spencer (1820–1903), related society and the human body. He opined that just as the various organs of the body work together to keep the body functioning, the various parts of society work together to keep society functioning. As such, anything that affects a part, affect the whole body. It is the malfunction of the political institution in Nigeria that caused police brutality which sparked the protests.

Using Sociology to End Police Brutality

In tracing the root causes of societal problems and theirs solutions, sociologists should be at the forefront. For any solution of any vice in any society to prevail, the provider of the remedies must be acquainted with the environment.

Society and an individual are inseparable. From an individual came a family, clan, community and then society. For example, Durkheim believed that individuals may make up society, but in order to study society, sociologists have to look beyond individuals to social facts. Social facts are the laws, morals, values, religious beliefs, customs, fashions, rituals, and all of the cultural rules that govern social life (Durkheim 1895).

The study of society by sociologists will doubtlessly contribute to the formulation of social policies which require certain amount of knowledge about that society. For instance, descriptive sociology provides a great deal of information that is necessary in decisions making on social policy. In view of this, government should give to sociologists a special consideration in formulating policies.

Looking at how sociologists play an important role in our society, it is imperative for the government to make the course “Sociology” and its likes a requirement when recruiting security men. They should send for some courses in sociology to enable them to know how to handle any issue in the society. Government should liaise with or consult those who studied sociology before making decisions. This consultation will surely help in ending police brutality. Government has the power over its actions, but it has no power over the consequences of its actions.

From Nigeria Blog Series

Muhammad Rabiu Jibrin

Muhammad Rabiu Jibrin (Mr. J), A Student of Politics, A Sociological and a Political Essayist, a Poet and a Story Writer. Writes from Gombe State, Nigeria. You can connect with Mr. J on Twitter and Instagram.