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Using the lie detector test to curb corruption in the Nigerian Police Force

Ehi Eric Esoimeme (Department of Legal, DSC Publications Ltd, Lagos, Nigeria)

Journal of Financial Crime

ISSN: 1359-0790

Article publication date: 2 July 2019




This paper aims to critically examine the lie detector test policy of the Nigeria Police Force to determine if the policy is capable of curbing corruption in the Nigerian Police Force.


The analysis took the form of a desk study, which analyzed various documents and reports such as the report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the National Bureau of Statistics titled “Corruption in Nigeria – Bribery: Public Experience and Response,” Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2017, the report by the International Police Science Association and the Institute for Economics and Peace.


This paper determined that the lie detector test policy of the Nigeria Police Force could achieve its desired objectives if the following recommendations are implemented: The Nigeria Police Reform Trust Fund bill should be given accelerated consideration in the Senate and House of Representatives based on its urgency and significance for the new lie detector test policy of the Nigeria Police Force. There is need for the Nigerian Police to have enough funds to conduct trainings for police personnel who are chosen as examiners for the lie detector tests. The Nigerian National Assembly will need to pass an Act to provide for the licensing of detection of deception examiners – commonly known as polygraph or lie detector operators – and regulation of that profession. The act should set forth the conditions under which persons may be admitted to practice detection of deception with a polygraph, the standards they must observe and the types of polygraph devices that they may henceforth be used lawfully. This is what was done in the State of Illinois. The Nigeria Police Force is advised to make use of two examiners for the lie detector test: one in-house examiner and one external examiner. The external examiner may be from another country in which corruption is not at a high rate, and must be someone of high integrity and professional competence. This measure may reduce the risk of bribery and corruption in the system. It will also bring more integrity and transparency into the system. The external examiner may also carry out “on the job training” with the in-house examiner while the polygraph exercise is going on. The Nigeria Police Force must make a new policy that mandates that all transactions relating to the purchase of polygraph machines must be conducted in an open and fair manner that recognizes the need for the transaction to be done directly with the seller, and not through a sales agent. This policy may help prevent a situation where a corrupt sales agent connives with a corrupt police officer to defraud the police unit. An ongoing approach to screening should be considered for specific positions, as circumstances change, or for a comprehensive review of departmental staff over a period. The Nigeria Police Force should have a policy that mandates that the lie detector test should be taken once in five years by all staff of the Nigeria Police Force. For staff in very sensitive positions, the lie detector test should be taken every three years. This will enable the lie detector policy to be more effective. Let us take, for example, a person passes the lie detector test genuinely without any influence of corruption; there is still a possibility that the person may change over time. The temptation to follow current employees to collect bribes is very high. But if the Nigeria Police Force put a policy in place that mandates every police personnel to take the lie detector test every five years starting from the first five years after recruitment, the cankerworm called corruption may be curbed effectively. Imagine if every police personnel knew that they were going to be asked by an examiner, five years after working, to confirm if they ever collected bribe during the time they served in the police force; most employees will desist from taking bribes or engaging in corrupt acts. The above measure will ensure that current employees who are chosen as examiners for the lie detector tests are fit and proper persons for the job.

Research limitations/implications

This paper focuses on the new lie detector test policy of the Nigeria Police Force. It does not address the other anti-corruption policies of the Nigeria Police Force.


This paper offers a critical analysis of the lie detector test policy of the Nigeria Police Force. It will provide recommendations on how the policy could be strengthened. This is the only paper to adopt this kind of approach.



Esoimeme, E.E. (2019), "Using the lie detector test to curb corruption in the Nigerian Police Force", Journal of Financial Crime, Vol. 26 No. 3, pp. 874-880.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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