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Crime is a social canker-worm that has eaten deep into the social fabric of the
Nigerian society such that its effect is multifaceted (Chinwokwu, 2013). Although
Durkheim (2007) opines that crime is inevitable and normal aspect of social life, it is
an integral part of all healthy societies. Haralambos & Holborn (2008) state that the
functionality of crime in a society, such as ours, has to be viewed seriously because of
the social and psychological problems it has caused many victims. In fact, no matter
the functionality of crime in the society, the act of crime is condemnable and
unacceptable in a healthy society, no matter the justification criminals may present.
It is a paradox that Nigeria is a rich country inhabited by the poor. Her poverty
profile in statistical figures according to a recent study indicates that Nigerian people
live in one of the twenty poorest countries in the world. The trend in poverty is on the
decline. The proportion of population living in relative poverty reduced to 54%. Data
also shows that the proportion of population living in extreme poverty was 35% while
the percentage of underweight children was 30% (Ladan, 2010).
The proportion of the population living in relative poverty was expected to
have fallen to 28.78 per cent in 2007, if the MDG target is to be met in 2015.
However, among every ten Nigerians, five were still living in poverty in 2007.
Analysis of poverty incidence by sectors indicated that poverty was more pronounced
in the rural areas than in the urban. Similarly, while poverty was more pronounced
among farmers and larger households headed by persons with lower levels of
education, income inequality is more pronounced in urban centres. Unemployment
rate in Nigeria rose from about 12 out of 100 working age people in 1999 to 18 in
2005 with the rate of youth unemployment rising in urban than rural areas. The
various Federal Government Initiatives on poverty reduction, food security, respect
for the Rule of Law, balanced socio-economic development and the various safety
nets of government created relatively better supportive policy environment (Ladan,
The growing awareness and recognition on the part of African governments,
donor agencies/development partners and Civil Society Groups, that poor people,
particularly women and children, the powerless and the disadvantaged, are the most
vulnerable to all forms of crime and discrimination; and that in very many cases,
formal justice systems fail to protect them, is a step in the right direction. This has
recently necessitated the need for African governments (Nigeria inclusive) to develop
the capacity to ensure safety, security and access to justice for all. The importance of
justice systems for improving the lives of vulnerable groups/poor people by ensuring
that everybody has access to systems which dispense justice fairly, speedily and
without discrimination cannot be over-emphasized.
Failure of states to provide citizens with protection from crime and access to
justice impedes sustainable development. All people have a right to go about their
lives in peace, free to make the most of their opportunities. They can only do so if the
institutions of justice and law and order protect them in their daily lives. States with
poorly functioning legal systems and poor crime control mechanisms are unattractive
to investors, so economic growth also suffers.
Accordingly, this paper contends that in developing countries like Nigeria the
law is often discriminatory and legal processes are expensive, slow and complex. The
result is that people, and particularly poor and disadvantaged people, have inadequate
and unequal access to justice through the formal legal system. For these reasons they
tend to rely much more on Customary Justice Systems, but these can be
discriminatory. Improving access to justice requires that both formal and customary
systems be made to work justly and equitably. It also means more than reforming
legal procedures. It can also mean law reform, making courts more user friendly,
improving Customary Systems and improving the treatment of offenders.
Since the 1970s, the popular crimes that were prevalent in Nigeria include:
armed robbery, stealing, assault, burglary, rape, etc; but today terrorism, bomb blasts,
kidnapping, drug trafficking, money laundry, child trafficking, assassinations and
other criminal activities have become the order of the day. Ekhomu (2010) noted that
Nigeria was beset with myraid of security challenges such as kidnapping, terrorism,
civil disturbance, political violence, fraud, assassination, armed robbery, among
others. In spite of stringent laws and punishments to check these crimes, they have
continued to be on the increase with the police seemingly helpless and incapable of
savaging the situation (Utebor & Ekpimah, 2010).
It has to be recalled that in 1986 Dele Giwa, a founding editor of the News
watch Magazine was killed during General Ibrahim Babangida‘s government through
a parcel bomb (Oyeniyi, 2007), the first of its kind in Nigerian history. Reacting to the
assassination of Dina Dipo, an Action Congress Gubernatorial candidate for Ogun
Statein 2007, Yinka Odumakin, National Publicity Secretary of the Party; described
Dina‘s murder as a shame to the country. He went on to say that Dina has now joined
the league of Bola Ige, Ayo Daramola, Funso Williams and so many other nonprominent people who lost their lives since the inception of do-or-die politics. One
common thread in all these assassination is the inability of the police to bring to book
the perpetrators (Akintunde, 2010).
However, the general insecurity and fear of victimisation and the seemingly
inability of some state governments to describe the type of arms and ammunition at
the disposal of the criminals, indicate that the professionalism of the criminals are
beyond the capabilities of the states (Chidozie, 2010). This came at the heels of
upsurge of armed robberies, kidnappings and other violence in the cities of some
states, including Abia, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Imo and Lagos in Nigeria. It is important
to note that between 1996 – 2003, a total of about 800,054 cases of property crimes
were recorded by the Nigeria police (Dambazau, 2007; Ugwoke, 2010).The
magnitude of these crimes and the modus operandi of the criminals seem to put the
police off-balance.
The former Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ogbonnaya Onovo, told his
officers and men in Owerri, Imo Stateat the peak of the kidnapping saga in the South
East Zones of Nigeria that they have done well in maintaining peace and order, but
have failed in preventing crimes (Akasike & Abimbola, 2010). This was further
emphasized by the immediate past Inspector General of Police Mr. Hafiz Ringim who
blamed the incessant armed robbery, kidnapping, and similar crimes on policemen‘s
corrupt practices (Akasike & Abimbola, 2010). These raise a lot of questions on
police efficiency and effectiveness in handling criminal investigation matters in
It is pertinent to mention that the level at which crime is prevented in the
society will very much depend on the level at which the police are able to investigate,
prosecute and gain conviction of criminals (Chinwokwu, 2013). It is because of their
importance and position in the criminal justice system that they have been chosen for
this study. Moreover, Gibbons (1968) contends that crime is a social phenomenon, as
a social phenomenon, the methods or ways of investigating the commission of crime
needs to be studied in our social settings. The Police are charged with the
responsibility of internal security by ensuring safety of lives and property. But the
question here is: have the police been able to carry out their functions effectively and
The steady increase of crimes and undetected crimes of various criminal
activities recently has raised a general feeling of insecurity of lives and property
among Nigerians. United Nations report in 1993 stated that for every 100 Nigerians,
40 are criminals (Arinze, 2010). According to Arinze (2010), whether the report is
accurate or not, the problem of eradicating crime in Nigeria in the 1970s, 1980s,
1990s and 2000s was a big task for the police, as it was years criminals of all shades
emerged in Nigerian towns and cities in full force and threatened the peace and
economic life of many citizens.
Between 1996 – 2000, the police recorded a total of 1,072,026 cases. Out of
this, 462,058 or 43.1 percent of the cases were prosecuted while 540,899 or 50.5
percent cases were under-investigation, undetected or unsolved (Soyombo, 2005). The
implication of this is that a very significant whooping number of 51.0 percent of the
cases were under-investigation or undetected or even closed for want of evidence.
This is very bad for a police organization that is supposed to be efficient. It is
an indication that criminal justice system in the country is very weak. For instance, in
2008 alone a total of 90,156 cases were recorded by the police. Out of these cases,
51,816 or 57.5 percent were prosecuted and 23,589 or 45.5 percent cases were
convicted. This is a very significant improvement in the prosecuting capacity and
ability of the police and a welcome development. However, we have to note also that
of the number of cases prosecuted, a total of 3,705 or15.7 percent were discharged
and acquitted. This also dwarfs the improvement made on conviction, because the
significant number discharged and acquitted is not unconnected to improper
investigation. More so, 38,342 or42.5 percent remained ‗under-investigation,
undetected or unsolved‘. This is very significant in police performance. Significant
also was the number of property lost. Out of 5,257,710,145 lost only 2,014,425,676 or
38.3 percent was recovered.
From the above illustrations, it is obvious that the police performance in terms
of investigation and detection or clearance rate have been inefficient as evidenced by
the overwhelming cases that remained under-investigation, undetected, unsolved or
even discharged and acquitted. This apparent inefficiency of the Nigeria Police to
combat crime in the society through effective management of criminal investigation is
a serious setback in the criminal justice system. This is because the police is the pivot
on which the justice system stands (Conklin, 1989). The challenges confronting the
police in Nigeria are corruption, lack of sufficient finance, lack of public support, etc.
(Dambo, 2012). Hence the police ineffectiveness in controlling crime through
effective criminal investigation techniques has been so glaring that people now live in
fear i.e. fear of being victims of criminal violence. The socio-psychological effect this
fear has generated on the people is better imagined than said.
In line with the statement of problem above, the study will seek answers to the
following questions:
1. What are the factors responsible for the high rate of undetected and pending criminal
investigation cases in Nigeria?
2. What are the investigative techniques adopted by investigating police officers in
criminal investigation?
3. How effective are the investigative techniques used by the Nigeria Police Force in
combating crime?
4. What are the challenges confronting the police in combating crime?
This study is on criminal justice system: a case study of Nigeria‘s Police Force
in combating crime. However, based on the research questions stated above, this
study seeks to realize the following objectives:
1. To determine the factors that are responsible for the high rate of undetected and
pending criminal investigation cases in Nigeria.
2. To examine the investigative techniques adopted by investigating police officers in
criminal investigation.
3. To assess the effectiveness of the investigative techniques used by the Nigeria Police
Force in combating crime.
4. To enumerate the challenges confronting the police in combating crime.
5. To conclude with viable policy options for Nigeria Police Force to efficiently combat
crime in the country.
This study is based on the following assumptions:
i. There are some factors responsible for the high rate of undetected and pending
criminal investigation cases in Nigeria.
ii. There are certain investigative techniques adopted by investigating police officers in
criminal investigation.
iii. The investigative techniques used by the Nigeria Police Force in combating crime are
less effective.
iv. There are some challenges confronting the police in combating crime, which make
their investigative techniques less effective.
The importance of law and order to orderly development and growth of a
society, both in the physical and economic sense, cannot be over emphasized. It is
only a mind that is secured and at peace that can rationally address the issues of
procreation, economic development and societal growth. A disturbed mind is a
restless and distraught personality. It is therefore imperative to have peace and order
in the society to assure its growth and development (Otubu and Coker, 2014).
This work is significant as it seeks to shed light on the criminal justice system
in Nigeria, with reference to the Nigeria Police Force in combating crime. Therefore
the study has theoretical and practical relevance. The theoretical relevance of this
study is that it identifies the implications of weak criminal justice system in Nigeria
and the role of the judiciary, policy makers, defence and national security advisers in
combating crime. By so doing, the study enriches the existing stock of literature or
expands the frontiers of knowledge through its findings. Therefore it will serve as
source of data to scholars who may be interested in further studies in its area.
Practically, this study will be of immense benefits to government, judiciary,
security advisers, defence advisers, policy makers, politicians, regional institutions
etc., as the study is timely, because the contemporary Nigerian society is faced with
numerous crimes. This will go a long way in reducing the rate of crime in Nigeria and
this knowledge can benefit other countries experiencing similar menace as well as
help international organization on certain crime reduction, such as child abuse, rape,
etc. This study was conceived to examine the efforts of the police at checkmating the
high rate of undetected and pending criminal investigation cases in Nigeria. The result
of this study will among others contribute to a better understanding of the issues
militating against effective crime investigation in Nigeria. The findings of this study
will also go a long way in making an important practical contribution to improve the
criminal justice system in Nigeria.
The study aims to critically examine the criminal justice system in Nigeria due
to the uncontrollable number of crime in the country. For the purpose of adequate
empirical analysis, the study is centred on Delta State. The scope will be narrowed to
the investigative techniques of the Nigeria Police Force in combating crime in the
state. It also investigates the factors responsible for the high rate of undetected and
pending criminal investigation cases in Nigeria, and Delta State in particular. The
study will examine the challenges confronting the police in combating crime, which
make their investigative techniques less effective. The essence of this study is to
enhance the criminal justice system in Nigeria through an improvement in the effort
of the Nigeria Police Force in combating crime.
Human endeavors are usually limited by challenges. The inability to visit
major police stations in the country to find out their investigative techniques in
combating crime constituted a limitation. Biasness and sentiments on the side of many
publications, writers and respondents was also a limitation to the work. The lack of
accurate data or the presence of falsified data by Nigerian government agents and
many publications constituted another bottleneck to the work. However, in spite of all
these limitations, efforts were made to ensure the quality of the study through the use
of sources such as the Judiciary, Nigeria Police, academic journals and other relevant
materials to ensure authenticity and validity of the study.
This research work has been divided into five chapters. The first chapter is the
introduction which discusses the background of the study, statement of the problem,
objectives of the study, basic assumptions, research questions, and operational
definition of terms. Also included in this chapter is the scope of the study and
limitations. The second chapter is devoted to literature review and theoretical
framework with the aim of discussing the concept of criminal justice system and
providing fundamental and historical background to the Nigeria Police Force
including the roles of the police. The third chapter covers research methodology
taking cognizance of the research design, research population, sample and sampling
technique(s), research instrument(s), validity and reliability of instruments, data
collection technique and finally the data analysis technique(s) employed in the
research. On its part, the fourth chapter discusses the analysis of data collected and
discussion of research findings. Finally, the fifth chapter contains the summary and
conclusion of research work, as well as recommendations on how the problems raised
can be tackled.
Some terms are used repeatedly in the study and are defined for the purpose of
clarity. These are as follows:
Access to Justice: The term ‗access to justice‘ refers to judicial and administrative
remedies and procedures available to a person (natural or juristic) aggrieved or likely
to be aggrieved by an issue. It refers also to a fair and equitable legal framework that
protects human rights and ensures delivery of justice.
Crime: An illegal act or activity that can be punished by law. It is an immoral act or
activity that involves breaking the law. In any modern society, stealing, kidnapping,
drugs and human trafficking, murder, suicide attempt, bribery, etc. are some of the
examples of crime.
Criminal Justice System: Criminal justice is the system of practices and institutions of
governments directed at upholding social control, deterring and mitigating crime, or
sanctioning those who violate laws with criminal penalties and rehabilitation efforts.
In its broad sense, the criminal justice system consists of the law enforcement agency,
the court, and correction facilities.
Justice Sector: The term ―justice sector‖ is used here in a broad sense, comprising not
just the judiciary, lawyers, and justice and interior ministries, but also police,
prosecutors, prisons system, human rights bodies, non-state mechanisms (e.g.
traditional chiefs and traditional systems of justice) and civil society organizations
involved in justice work.
Nigeria Police Force: This is the institution or law enforcement agency, established by
law, which is given the discretionary power, as well as charged with the responsibility
of protecting the lives and properties of the citizens and ensuring Peace within the
Nigerian state.


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