Despite decades of police assistance and the recent introduction of reform plans, Nigeria's public police remain notoriously brutal and corrupt. This raises the question of whether even flawed reforms in a relatively democratic environment can make a significant difference to policing standards and practices. Based on developments in the Nigeria Police since 2005, this article suggests that reform can make a normative and organisational difference, but that in the absence of fundamental socio-political change, its effects tend to be superficial, localised and temporary. Reform's dynamic is better understood as a classic dialectic than a serial succession of movements.
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