Nigeria Justice for All Programme - Background and Theory of Change

Nigeria Justice for All Programme


Nigeria is the most populous state in Africa, with an estimated population of 188 million. It covers an area of 356,669 sq. miles and is administrated by the Federal Government in Abuja, and 36 States across the country. Formal policing in delivered by the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) having an estimated 377,000 officers. There are significant numbers of informal voluntary policing groups throughout Nigeria, but no clear estimates are currently available.

The focus in this case study (see also our case studies page) is ‘policing’ reform rather than police reform. Policing reform is concerned with reforming those organisations and groups that are involved in the delivery of policing whereas police reform is often more do with the reform of the formal policing organization. Therefore the focus in J4A policing reform included the Voluntary Policing Sector and the Police Oversight Bodies.

Policing reform efforts funded by the UK commenced in an Access to Justice (A2J) Programme in 2002, which became the Security, Justice and Growth (SJG) in 2005 and ran until 2010. Under SJG the policing reform efforts were focused upon building proactive policing capacity using Community Based Policing (CBP) as the principle delivery methodology. During this time CBP was introduced into the NPF, and many thousands of officers were trained in the application of its constituent parts of accountability, service delivery, partnership working and empowered citizens and police officers. The training was delivered by SJG trained NPF officers overseen by an [also SJG trained] senior CBP NPF management team. However, whilst the emphasis on CBP and ‘proactive policing’ was welcome it became clear that a stronger emphasis was needed on the development of the ‘reactive policing’ side to provide a stable platform on which to develop the ‘pro-active capacity’. It was also noted that while NPF ownership was strong at senior middle level, it needed to be reinforced at highest levels of police leadership.

In response the UK government commissioned the Justice for All (J4A) Programme, which commenced in September 2010.  The core diagnosis of the J4A design team was that environmentally ‘there still existed very strong conditions of impunity in policing organisations resulting in a lack of trust by the public and communities with these organisations’; and organisationally - ‘despite the rhetoric on NPF willingness to fully engage, their capacity for change was low and that there still existed too many vested interests and political considerations to challenge the status quo’.

Theories of Change (ToC)

In change management terms the Nigerian environment was assessed as ‘complex’ requiring ‘emergent’ practice where the crafting of problem driven interventions needed to be contextually grown. The programme could not prescribe solutions after diagnosis, but needed to develop them through joint beneficiary problem solving, and deliver and test them in different geographic conditions. In order to provide higher levels of sustainability the interventions were developed as part of the establishment of integrated clusters of connected interventions that were both synergistic and self- reinforcing.

The J4A log-frame aimed at the impact of ‘improved personal security and access to justice’; an outcome: of ‘improved capacity, accountability and responsiveness of key safety and security organisations’ and the output: of ‘effective and accountable policing’.

The overall methodology was therefore based on the C.A.R. model – Capacity, Accountability (vertical and horizontal) and Responsiveness (service delivery). The design and delivery parameters focused upon building sustainable ‘change’, ‘strategy’, ‘thinking’ and ‘performance’ capacities. The delivery methodology remained CBP. The central approach was Demonstration, Replication, Adoption and Sustainability. The ToC’s interlocked over three levels –Individual with behaviour modification induced through a process change supported by a bureaucracy and reinforced by training;  Organisational with integrated self-sustaining linked clusters of contextual grown interventions, developed and delivered by beneficiaries; and Societal with empowered communities and policing organisations being enable to deliver community safety and individual security that, as a result, impacted on the power differentials that left people without a voice and capacity to influence policy and practice .

Main Areas of Delivery

Four main areas of delivery identified were:


  1. Establishment of NPF Formal Model Police Divisions (MPS) through the re-engineering of existing Divisions;
  2. Establishment of Model Voluntary Informal Policing Structures (VPS) through the re-engineering of existing vigilante groups;


  1. Building NPF Federal Strategy, Change, Thinking and Performance capacity with particular emphasis upon the development and delivery of core Federal strategies that underpinned the policing reform agenda;
  2. Building the capacity of External Police Oversight bodies to impact the police operating with impunity.

Special emphasis was placed upon:

  • Improving policing services to citizens and communities through partnerships with the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) and Voluntary Policing Structures (VPS) by increasing the willingness of the public to report crime to the police and VPS and increasing the willingness and the capacity of the NPF and VPS to respond to and resolve reports of crime
  • Improving accountability of the NPF and VPS to the communities they serve, and to appropriate statutory and non- statutory oversight bodies
  • Improving engagement between the NPF and VPS and their communities by creating platforms for working together in partnership and jointly identifying and solving problems in a way that empowers all concerned

The following paragraphs discuss the interventions, achievements and impact at State and Federal levels contributing to enhanced Accountability (ACC), Service delivery (SD) and Community Engagement and Partnerships (CEP). Beneficiary organisations and groups developed the interventions with J4A technical assistance. They then delivered and replicated the interventions.