BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Criminality is ingrained in human nature and history. As a consequence, no society will pretend to be completely free of violence. Crime behavior, on the other hand, appears to correspond to a society’s pattern of social and economic development. It is not unexpected, then, that a low-development nation sees an uptick in the incidence of violent crimes such as armed robbery, politically motivated killings, the usage of illegal weapons, racial and religious tensions, and so on. Crime leads to the loss of lives and money, as well as a strong feeling of weakness.
Over the last two decades, Nigeria has seen high rates of crime and victimization that have resisted the steps put in place by various regimes to control it. According to Osalor (2009), as quoted in News Watch 2015, “the scariest undertone of Nigeria’s socioeconomic underachievement, by far, is the relentless increase of youth criminality, nurtured in an environment of rising national income and the concurrent collapse of employment-generation and poverty alleviation programs.” Armed insurgencies and abductions raging in the Northeast and oil-rich South are now vying for foreign attention with a proliferation of Jihadist offshoots. The season of unrest has particular consequences for a country with millions of unemployed people, and the net result has been a tragic increase in violent crimes such as robbery, arson, extortion, and kidnapping. Furthermore, decades of social and political instability aided in the transformation of this geographically positioned African nation into a well-established crossroads for foreign drug traffickers.
Economic theft -primarily in the shape of creative Internet schemes – money trafficking, and racketeering are other highlights of Nigeria’s prolific crime syndicates.” This may be attributed to the high levels of young unemployment and joblessness. As a consequence, a substantial proportion of youngsters are looking for work in the current harsh economic conditions. The prevalence of such a large number of idle youngsters, both skilled and unskilled, and often homeless, provided a breeding ground for deviant conduct. This resulted in a spike in various types of crime, such as cocaine trafficking, drug addiction, the formation of kidnapping syndicates, and other organized crime Based on the above, the researcher felt compelled to classify, explain, and analyze patterns in criminal activity in the South East, given the relevance of such activities to national development.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Nigeria within the last decade has been challenged by the upsurge of insecurity masterminded by an increase in criminal activities. Some of the patterns and trends of crimes in Nigeria are corruption, Money Laundering, Cyber Crime, Terrorism, Human Trafficking, Assassination, Kidnapping etc.
Organized and non-organized crime and attendant vices have made common man to sleep with one eye closed and the other open, living in uncertainty of what the bad news the next hour will bring. However, 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 recently. Newswatch Magazine (2015 revisited 2021) in its editorial described the south east zone as a no-go area because of violent crimes which include kidnapping, burning of police stations, armed robbery and assassination. Scroll Magazine (2021) 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.
In its editorial, Newswatch Magazine (2021) went on to say that all of this has resulted in a massive spectra of crime and criminality emerging from a region known for hard work and peaceful living. Agbese, D. (2010) cited in Newswatch (2021 succinctly puts it this way. “To state the uncomfortable and the obvious: we are all prisoners and potential victims of armed robbers and kidnappers. 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 for integration and national development as most people are of the opinion that the increase in crime in the southeast is used as political propaganda to cause chaos in the region. Hence, it is against this backdrop that the study is set to do an evaluation on trends in criminal activities in the SouthEast.
OBJECYIVE OF THE STUDY
The general objective of the study is to find out, describe and analyse the trends in criminal activities in South East Region. Specifically, the study seeks to:
1. Ascertain the most prevalent form of crime in South East region
2. Ascertain if there are no differences in crime against persons and that against property.
3. Establish the trend over ten years period (2015 – 2021)
4. Make recommendations on possible ways of curbing criminal activities in the state.
The following research questions guided the study:
1. What are the factors that motivate people to commit crime in South East?
2. Which forms of crime are the most rampant in South East?
3. Is crime rate increasing by day South East?
4. What are the measures that can be taken to curb the increase crime trend in South East?
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 study 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 to enhance their efficiency. This study 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.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The scope of the study borders on the analyse of trends in criminal activities in South East Region. The study seeks will ascertain the most prevalent form of crime in South East region from 2015-2021. The study will make recommendations on possible ways of curbing criminal activities in the state.The scope of this study is however limited to selected local government in Imo State, South East Nigeria.
LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
However in the midst above mentioned limitation the researcher devotedly ensured that the purpose of the study was actualized.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Crime: Crime, the intentional commission of an act usually deemed socially harmful or dangerous and specifically defined, prohibited, and punishable under criminal law.
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.