218 MIZAN LAW REVIEW, Vol. 10, No.1 September 2016
us figure out why things are the way they are and suggest ways to effect desired
changes.3 There are many theories for the explanation of crime. However no
single theory or definition can be exhaustive on the issue of crime.4 A major
objective of criminological research is to provide theoretical explanations for
crime, with a view to finding ways of curtailing crime in society.5 Crime is
generally defined in terms of some form of deviance or behaviour which departs
from the prevalent societal norms. From the legal perspective, crime has been
defined as “an act capable of being followed by criminal proceedings”.6 Section
2 of the Criminal Code Act, Chapter C38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria,
2004 (Criminal Code ), uses the term “offence”, which it defines as “an act or
omission which renders the person doing the act or making the omission liable
to punishment”.7 Crime problems8 are widespread incidences of particular
crimes at different times which pose difficulty to the society.
This paper gives an overview of contemporary crime theories. It then
analyses notable crime problems in Nigeria and the response of the political
authority to each of the crime problems. For our purpose, the phrase ‘political
authority’ refers to the formulators of criminal policy in the executive,
legislative and judicial arms of government. Theoretical explanation of each
crime problem is made, with the aim of suggesting effective ways of responding
to same. The crime problems discussed are corruption, armed robbery, advance
fee fraud, kidnapping and terrorism. These crimes are the prevalent crime
problems in Nigeria. Some relevant solutions are preferred on how the political
authority will benefit from an understanding of crime theories.
3 H.D. Barlow, Criminal Justice in America (New Jersey: Prentice, 2000), p.86.
4 L. Atsegbua, “The Nature, Definition and Function of the Criminal Law,” Nigerian Bar
Journal, 7, No. 1 (2011): p.238.
5 Criminology has been defined as the study of crime as a social phenomenon. It includes
within its scope the process of making laws, of breaking laws, and of reacting towards the
breaking of laws. The objective of criminology is the development of a body of general
and verified principles and of other types of knowledge regarding this process of law,
crime and treatment or prevention. See E.H. Sutherland, Principles of Criminology, 2nd
Edition (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1934), p.6.
6 G. Williams, “The Definition of Crime,” CLP, 8 (1955): p.107.
7 See also s.28 of the Penal Code, Chapter P3 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
While the Criminal Code applies to areas in the former Southern Nigeria, the Penal Code
applies to areas in the former Northern Nigeria.
8 A problem is a thing that is difficult to deal with or understand. Oxford Advanced
Learner’s Dictionary, s.v. “problem”.