TRENDS IN CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES IN ENUGU STATE: A TEN YEAR EMPIRICAL EVALUATION 2000-2017
1.1 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 aected 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 analyse the trends in criminal activities in Enugu State, considering its importance to national development.
1.2 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 contraband, 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. New-swatch 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.
New-swatch 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 armored 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.