The paramilitary forces or agencies are security organizations whose activities, training, tactics and operations are similar to that of the military. They are not categorized as military and they are not purely civilians. They may be categorized as civilians who have undergone and passed military training.
In Nigeria, the paramilitary agencies are fully involved in fighting different forms of crime and maintaining of law and order in the society. They are engaged in combat and they are allowed to arrest and prosecute criminals. Their new members are made to under go special trainings that are similar to that of the military. They engage in parades, they are allowed to handle guns and weapons of war while some are also engaged in military duties most especially in times of civil unrest.
These paramilitary organizations are assigned specific duties and they have different commands and cadres. They have special uniforms with designs that depicts the stratification of leadership roles and positions in the different cadres.
Before independence, there were only few paramilitary forces in the country. The number has increased since then. We shall now highlight top paramilitary organizations in the country and their key responsibilities.
TOP PARAMILITARY FORCES IN NIGERIA & FUNCTIONS
Below are the list of major paramilitary forces/agencies in Nigeria and the roles they play in the society.
THE NIGERIAN CORRECTIONAL SERVICE (NCOS)
The Nigerian Correctional Service formerly known as the Nigerian Prisons Service are a paramilitary organization in Nigeria that first sprung into duty in 1861 during the formation of the Lagos colony. They were instituted by the then British colony to take charge of the slaves who were remanded in the prisons. They have since been a very functional tool of the government. They are mandated to take into custody the individuals who have been certified by the court to remain in jail.
They are to oversee their welfare, take them to and from the court, oversee their rehabilitation, training and subsequent reintegration into the society at the expiration of their jail term. In a nutshell, the NCOS are the ones in charge of members of the society who have been found guilty of crime by the court and sentenced to serve jail terms. One has to be trained specially in order to be able to deal with criminals, else they break the jail and escape. To curb jail break, officers of the NPS are given the needed military like training so as to be able to handle the prison in-mates.
The primary functions of the Nigerian Correctional Service include:
- To take into custody persons legally charged to prisons
- To provide secure and humane custody conditions for charged inmates
- To implement various reforms through rehabilitation activities aimed at enhancing inmates reintegration into the society at large.
- Making sure that inmates are empowered via training them on vocational activities, agricultural and other incentives.
- To provide the necessary support in facilitating the quick disposal of cases of persons awaiting trial.
- To perform other roles to enhance service duties.
NATIONAL DRUG LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY (NDLEA)
NDLEA is the regulatory body set aside to control illicit drugs in the country. Their duty is to track down the selling and exporting of hard drugs. They can be found in places such as the Airport, highways, sea ports, borders, etc. These guys are always on the lookout for cannabis and other hard drugs farms to destroy. Their main targets are the leaders and users of these hard drugs. NDLEA was established in 1990 by Decree number 48 of the federal republic of Nigeria.
The primary functions of the NDLEA include:
- To carry out investigation on drug-related crimes.
- To make sure that drug laws are strictly enforced.
- To prosecute criminals that are involved in drug related cases.
- To reactively patrol public arenas to stop exportation or importation of hard drugs and substances that will endanger the lives of citizens.
- To destroy narcotic plants, substances and areas where such drugs are produced.
- To orientate the public on the dangers of narcotic substances in a bid to fight drug trafficking.
NIGERIA CUSTOMS SERVICE (NCS)
The Nigeria Customs service is the best paramilitary agency in Nigeria whose primary role of tackling anti-smuggling activities within the borders of the country. They are in-charge of collecting and accounting for import/export duty revenues at the borders. They check mate the smuggling of toxic and hazardous substances, money laundering, Guns and weapons at the borders. They are a very important element for the implementation of Government policies.
FEDERAL ROAD SAFETY COMMISSION (FRSC)
The FRSC is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that the federal roads are safe for motorists. The commission was established through Decree No. 45 of the 1988 constitution. This commission is to check mate the users, educate them, assign speed limits, and ensure that they adhere to the rules and regulations of the road. In a nut shell, their duties are channeled towards reducing the rate of road accidents on our federal roads. They arrest and prosecute road users that commit traffic offences.
NIGERIA IMMIGRATION SERVICE (NIS)
The Nigerian immigration service has a sole responsibility of coordinating the migration activities in the country. They control the entrance of people into the country and they offer residence permits to foreigners. They check mate and prosecute foreigners that made illegal entrance into tho country. If you are a foreigner without your travel papers, then know that these guys will be on your trail.
For Nigerians seeking to travel out of or into the country, NIS, are in-charge of issuing travel documents, visa, international and regional passports. NIS was carved out from the Nigerian police force in 1958. In a nutshell, the NIS is mandated to undertake border surveillance and control and migration management.
NIGERIA SECURITY AND CIVIL DEFENSE CORPS (NSCDC)
NSCDC has the mandate to maintain peace and order and to safe the civil society during period of emergency such as war and terrorism. They protect t lives and property, they check mate vandalism of facilities owned by government such as power holding company of Nigeria (PHCN) electric wire cables, oil rigs, engines, etc.
They sensitize and educate the civil society on some security measures to be taken in time of war and civil unrest. They first swung into action during the civil war in may 1967 when they rescued and protected the lives of civilians in Lagos, the then federal capital territory. They sensitized the Lagos residents on how to protect and save their selves against attack during the war. They were then known as Lagos Civil Defense Committee.
The NSCDC was passed into law and given the necessary backing by the then President Obasanjo regime in December 2003. NSCDC had since then been given the right to arrest and prosecute members of the society suspected to deal in oil bunkering, vandalism and burglary of government-owned property and projects.
THE NIGERIAN POLICE FORCE (NPF)
The Nigerian police is a premilitary force saddled with the responsibility of maintaining law and order in the society. They ensure that the laws of the government are implemented and defaulters arrested and prosecuted. A lot of persons call them “men in black”. They patrol in cases of burglary or armed robbery attacks.
They investigate and ensure that criminals are clamped down. Officers of the Nigerian police are usually deployed as security in banks and other government agencies. They also perform some military duties mostly during the period of civil unrest and war when they are sent for peace keeping in affected areas. They are also attached as security aids to top government officials, politicians and expatriates.
FEDERAL FIRE SERVICE IN NIGERIA (FFSN)
The fire service was established in 1901 by the British colony as a unit under the Nigerian police. They were given a core responsibility of mitigating fire outbreak and saving the lives of citizens during such incidence. They were initially called the police brigade. Their role also includes sensitization and training of members of the society on fire fighting and fire outbreak prevention.
These are the major paramilitary organizations in the country. These organizations have specialized departments and units. Like, the police which has the SARS, the anti-robbery and other units. There are other agencies that can as well be grouped as a paramilitary, but we only focused on the most popular ones. On the whole, all of the paramilitary organizations have a core mandate of maintaining peace and order and saving the lives of people.