TRENDS IN CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES IN ENUGU STATE (A TEN YEAR EMPIRICAL EVALUATION 2000-2009)
BACKGROUND OF STUDY
Criminality is part and parcel of human nature and society. That is why no society can claim to be completely free of crimes. But the types of criminal behaviour tend to follow the pattern of social and economic development of a given society. It is therefore not unexpected that a society at a low level of development tends to experience an upsurge in the rate of violent crimes such as armed robber, politically motivated killings, the use of illegal weapons, ethnic and religious clashes and the like (Ohijini 2005: 1).
Crime causes loss of live and property as well as overwhelming fear of insecurity. These have serious consequences for democracy, economic development, social capital and associational life generally. Individual and societal aspirations for democracy, development, human rights, high standard of living are undermined by high level of crime.
Increase in violent crime and delinquency, is a common feature of countries in transition. This has been attributed to the uncontrollable nature of change in its formative stage, demobilization or dismantling of repressive security apparatuses used by previous authoritarian regimes in controlling crime and the unequal socio-economic opportunities brought about by economic liberalization programs. What differentiate societies
in transition from one another with regard to increase in common crimes and disorders are the policies and strategies that have been adopted by the governments to address them. Countries that have invested more in social crime prevention and in finding peaceful solutions to their political problems through transparent processes appear to have managed rise in criminal deviance and discontent better than others. (Shaw 2001; Shearing & Kempa 2001 in Etannibi and Chukwuma, 2005).
The Nigerian experience can not be different. The first four years of transitional democracy in the country witnessed perceived and real increase in violent crime and disorder, so much so that safety and security issues ranked very high among citizens priority concerns. Increasing incidence of armed robbery led to a paralyzing fear which in turn affected economic and social life in the country. As a result of the growing rates and severity of criminality successive governments in the country since the early 1980s introduced diverse crime control measures, but without much success.
Following the introduction of Structural Adjustment Programs (SAP) from 1984, the country started experiencing a serious contraction in the labour market. This resulted in a large proportion of youths, searching for jobs under the prevailing harsh economic conditions. The presence of this enormous pool of idle youths, who are both skilled and unskilled and sometimes homeless, created a fertile ground for deviant activities. This culminated in an increase in crime of different types, including drug-trafficking and drug abuse.
Based on the foregoing, the researcher felt the need to identify, describe and anlayse the trends in criminal activities in Enugu State, considering its importance to national development.
STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
Most Nigerians agree that crime rates and insecurity in the country are very high and that over the last years, the country has experienced a steep rise in crime. Organized and non-organized crime and attendant vices such as smuggling of contrabands, especially firearms, counterfeiting, money-laundering, armed robberies, kidnapping, car hijacking, and human trafficking have become sources of worry for the Nigerian government. Likewise, incidents of high profile crime and politically motivated killings and kidnapping have lately compounded the complexity of the crime situation in the country.
The South East zone of the country appears to be the worst hit. Newswatch Magazine (July 5, 2010: 11) in its editorial described the south east zone as a no-go area because of violent crimes which include kidnapping, robbery and assassination. Scroll Magazine (July 5, 2010: 13) in its cover page story stated that the region has become a goldmine
for hoodlums and criminal elements who have mastered the art of abducting innocent individuals including children for huge ransoms. Newswatch Magazine (July 5, 2010: 11) in its editorial went further to state that all these have created one huge spectra of crime and criminality out of a region where people are known for hard work and living peaceful lives.
On the recent kidnap of four journalists in Abia State on the 11th of July 2010 and the state of insecurity in the country. Agbese, Dan (2010) succinctly puts it this way.
“To state the uncomfortable and the obvious: we are all prisoners and potential victims of armed robbers and kidnapper. We live in cages surrounded by high walls and iron gates. We travel on our roads with two eyes in front and two at the back of our heads. The rich protect themselves with armoured vehicles and armed policemen or private security men. Our hearts are permanently in our mouths because whatever individual precautions we may take, we are collectively unprotected down the length and breath of the country”
The government is on the verge of failing to uphold the sacred constitutional duty to protect the lives and property of the citizens. The increasing rise in crime wave around the country could undermine the current drive by the Federal Government to achieve the Vision 20 – 20 and the Millennium Development Goals by the year 2015 if not checked.
Hence the problem of the study is on trends for criminal activities in Enugu State.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The general objective of the study is to find out, describe and analyse the trends in criminal activities in Enugu State. Specifically, the study seeks to:
- ascertain the most prevalent form of crime in Enugu State
- ascertain if there are no differences in crime against persons and that against property.
- Establish the trend over ten years period (2000 – 2009).
- Make recommendations on possible ways of curbing criminal activities in the state.
The following research questions guided the study:
- What are the factors that motivate people to commit crime in Enugu State?
- Which forms of crime are the most rampant in Enugu State?
- Is crime rate in Enugu State actually increasing or decreasing?
The research hypotheses that guided this study are as follows:
- HO: There are no significant differences among various forms of crime committed in the State.
- H0: There is no significant difference in the crime against persons and crime against property in the State.
- H0: There are no significant increases in the trend for crime as the year progresses
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This is an empirical study on trends in criminal activities in Enugu State. The variables understudies are; the causes/motivations for crime, most prevalent forms of crime in the State, and the trend pattern over the period understudy (i.e 2000 to 2009)
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study will be useful to law enforcement agencies.
It will bring to the fore the causes, most prevalent form of crime, problems in fighting crime as well as possible solutions. This will help the law enforcement agencies in laying strong foundations in combating crime in the country.
This study will provide information on the depth of criminal activities and enable the government to know the need to ensure security to its citizens. It will create awareness on those barriers militating against proper security of lives and properties in major cities. The government will see the need to properly equip the security agencies and the need to provide incentives for the personnel for instance through seminars/workshops, regular in-service training, regular promotions and payment of salaries.
This will add to the body of knowledge on causes as well as trends in criminal activities in urban areas and will serve as a guide to other researchers who may have interest in crime study.
DEFINITION OF KEY TERMS
Crimes are frequently classified as;
- Offences against persons: These crimes are committed against individuals or groups, and may result in physical or psychological harm to the victim(s). These include, for example, murder, manslaughter, attempted murder, suicide, grievous harm wounding, assault, child stealing, slave dealing; rape and indecent assault, unnatural offences.
- Offences against property or property crimes: These crimes are committed with the intent to permanently deprive or destroy or damage the property of another, either as individuals or groups.
These include stealing; robbery and extortion, burglary, house breaking, false pretences/cheating, store breaking, forgery, receiving stolen property, unlawful possession, arson and other offences.
- Offences against currency and lawful authority: include such crimes as forgery of currency notes, coining offences, breach of public peace, gambling, perjury, bribery and corruption, escaping from lawful custody and other offences.
- Offences against Local Acts: Include offences against Traffic Acts, offences against Township Acts, offences against Liquor Acts, offences against Dog Acts, offences against Firearms Acts, Narcotics and other offences.
- Conventional Crimes: Under this, we have violent crimes and property crimes. Violent crimes include murder, armed robbery, rape, manslaughter, ritual killings, kidnapping and assault. Property crimes include burglary, larceny, shoplifting, motorcycle and bicycle theft, motor vehicle theft, theft of car accessories, embezzlement, fraud, arson and purse snatching.
- White-Collar Crime: It is any illegal act, punishable by criminal law that is committed in the course of a legitimate occupation or pursuit by a corporation or by any otherwise respectable person.
- Organized crimes: Are crimes that involve many people who participate in different stages of the criminal acts for it to be successful. These crimes include human trafficking, drug trafficking, cyber crime, money laundering and online banking, advanced feed fraud (419), corruption, assassination etc.
- Crimes without Victims: Include prostitution, drug abuse, and gambling.
Agbase D. (2010), “Onovo’s Challenge” Newswatch Magazine, July 26.
Etannibi E. O. and Chukwuma I. C. (2005), Crime and Policing in Nigeria: Challenges and Options. Lagos: Cleen Foundaion Monograph Series, No. 2.1.
Newswatch Magazine, (2010), “Paralysis, Violent Crimes Ground South East” July 5.
Olujinmi, A. (2005) “Keynote Address” in the National summit on Crime and Policing in Nigeria: Challenges and options, Lags: Network on Police Reforms in Nigeria.
Scroll Magazine, (2010), “Rising Crime Wave, Jonathan Steps In” July 5.