Comment: Theorising Nigerian Crime Problems

Author:Osaterin Aigbovo - Osose Eidenoje
Position:Dr Aigbovo is an Associate Professor in the Department of Public Law, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria. Email: osaretin.aigbovo@uniben.edu - Mr Eidenoje is a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and LL.M candidate in the Faculty of Law, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria. Email: eidenojeosose@gmail.com
Pages:217-243
SUMMARY

This comment presents an overview of criminological theories of crime and examines some contemporary crime problems in Nigeria against the backdrop of relevant theories. It also analyses society’s response to each crime problem in the form of government policies and legislation. The paper argues that an appreciable understanding of the different crime theories is fundamental for an effective... (see full summary)

 
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Theorising Nigerian Crime Problems
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/mlr.v10i1.7
O. Aigbovo and Osose Eidenoje**
Abstract
This comment presents an overview of criminological theories of crime and
examines some contemporary crime problems in Nigeria against the backdrop
of relevant theories. It also analyses society’s response to each crime problem
in the form of government policies and legislation. The paper argues that an
appreciable understanding of the different crime theories is fundamental for an
effective response to contemporary crime problems and that the response so far
has not been reflective of such understanding. It is therefore recommended that
criminal policy makers in the legislative, executive and judicial arms of
government in Nigeria should be knowledgeable about crime theories so that
they can fashion well informed policies, legislative and judicial responses to
Nigerian crime problems. Lastly it is recommended that Nigeria should adopt
best practices from other jurisdictions in combating its crime problems since its
attempts so far have not succeeded.
Key terms: Nigeria, Crime, Theories, Corruption, Best Practices.
______________
Introduction
A theory refers to a formal set of ideas which is intended to explain why
something happens or exists.1 It is any system of ideas arranged in rational order
that produces general principles based on facts which increase our
understanding and explanations2. Explanations are important because they help
Dr Aigbovo is an Associate Professor in the Department of Public Law, University of
Benin, Benin City, Nigeria. Email: osaretin.aigbovo@uniben.edu
** Mr Eidenoje is a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and LL.M
candidate in the Faculty of Law, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria. Email:
eidenojeosose@gmail.com
The authors are grateful to the editor who reviewed the earlier draft of this paper for his
helpful observations which have helped in enriching the paper.
1 Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Special Price Edition, S. Wehmeier (ed) (Oxford:
OUP, 2001) p.1241 s.v. “theory.”
2 A. Kaplan, The Conduct of Social Inquiry (San Francisco: UCP, 1964), cited in T.
O’Connor, “Crime Theories in the Field of Criminology,” p.1, available at:
<http://www.drtomoconnor.com/1010/1010lect02.html>. Accessed May 27, 2015.
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”.

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