the criminology and criminal justice network
An Excerpt of Mr. Mathew Nwokwu's Speech During the 2012 Celebration of ICC's Decade of Existence and Successful Operations, at the Model Study Centre , National Open University of Nigeria, (www.nou.edu.ng) on July 17th, 2012, Lagos Nigeria
I welcome you all to this remarkable event, to mark the International Criminal Justice Day in the Model Study Centre of the National Open University of Nigeria, being the Headquarters of the University. I feel greatly honoured to be in your midst, even as a scholar and to be given the opportunity to express myself and to present to a paper I titled: Criminal Justice System in Nigeria: The Advent of Criminology and Security Studies- Prospects, Gains and Challenges Ahead.
According to The People's Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill, the concept “Criminal Justice” is simply defined as “a generic term for the procedure by which criminal conduct is investigated, evidence gathered, arrests made, charges brought, defenses raised, trials conducted, sentences rendered and punishment carried out.” But the Wikipedia further defined it as 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. Those accused of crime have protections against abuse of investigatory and prosecution powers.
Now the question is: How has Criminal Justice System in Nigeria contributed towards justice delivery? What must Nigeria do to solve the problem of corruption and insecurity? And what are the roles of the police, judiciary and the general public in Criminal justice?
Let me quickly share with you a brief history and development of Criminal Justice. In the United States, criminal justice policy has been guided by the 1967 President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice, which issued a ground-breaking report "The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society". This report made more than 200 recommendations as part of a comprehensive approach toward the prevention and fighting of crime. Some of those recommendations found their way into the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. The Commission advocated a "systems" approach to criminal justice, with improved coordination among law enforcement, courts, and correctional agencies. The President's Commission defined the criminal justice system as the means for society to "enforce the standards of conduct necessary to protect individuals and the community."
The Criminal Justice system in England and Wales aims to "reduce crime by bringing more offences to justice, and to raise public confidence that the system is fair and will deliver for the law-abiding citizen." In Canada, the criminal justice system aims to balance the goals of crime control and prevention, and justice (equity, fairness, protection of individual rights). In Sweden, the overarching goal for the criminal justice system is to reduce crime and increase the security of the people. Overall, criminal justice plays a huge role throughout society as a whole in any place.
The law as you all know is the bedrock of Criminal Justice System. Law is a system of rules usually enforced through a set of institutions. The purpose of law is to provide an objective set of rules for governing conduct and maintaining order in a society. The oldest known codified law is the Code of Ur-Nammu, written in the Sumerian language circa 2100 BC-2050 BC. The preface directly credits the laws to king Ur-Nammu of Ur. In different parts of the world, law could be established by philosophers or religion. In the modern world, laws are typically created and enforced by governments. These codified laws may coexist with or contradict other forms of social control, such as religious proscriptions, professional rules and ethics, or the cultural mores and customs of a society.
Within the realm of codified law, there are generally two forms of law that the courts are concerned with. Civil laws are rules and regulations which govern transactions and grievances between individual citizens. Criminal law is concerned with actions which are dangerous or harmful to society as a whole, in which prosecution is pursued not by an individual but rather by the state. The purpose of criminal law is to provide the specific definition of what constitutes a crime and to prescribe punishments for committing such a crime. No criminal law can be valid unless it includes both of these factors. The subject of criminal justice is, of course, primarily concerned with the enforcement of criminal law.
However, since the subject of Criminal Justice is primarily about Criminal Law, it is therefore very important to state what the International Society for Criminology stands for. The objective of the International Society for Criminology (ISC) is to promote activities and research designed to further a better understanding of the crime phenomenon on an international scale. The society also helps to promote the prevention of crime as well as improve the procedures used by the various criminal justice systems. These activities, therefore, focus on scientific and practical issues on crime control, prosecution, conviction and rehabilitation of offenders for the wellbeing of the society.
May I also use this medium to express my gratitude to those of you here present, who are desirous to pursue a career in Criminal Justice Systems, especially those in the fieled of Criminology and Security Studies (CSS). The International Community now regards you as “Certified Social Scientists.” No wonder Criminology is defined as the scientific study of crime and criminals. In defining criminology as an independent discipline, the seventeenth and eighteenth century understanding of crime was regarded as an omnipresent temptation to which all human kind was vulnerable.
No nation of the world is free from crime! The Marxism criminological concept is that criminal behaviour arises from the wider social conditions or social structure of political economy. According to Emile Durkheim (1893); a sociologist, crime is a result of a necessary consequence of the existence of a collectively supported morality. Crime can be seen as a necessary part of every social order because every social order needs a collectively supported morality. Law is an indicator of moral norms. Law is mainly divided into two: Criminal Laws which constitute and oversee the violation of collective conscience, since it is understood that a person who violets a society’s law invites society’s anger and must be disciplined; while Civil Administrative Laws represent a lesser expression of collective conscience in view of the nature of the consequences that flow from them.
The emergence of criminology as a course of study is to bring about the needful awareness which will foster the collective adherence to law and order across the globe. This perception cannot be achieved if collective understandings and experiences are not shared on global perspective, through the medium of criminological convergences like this. Crime when viewed, either professionally or traditionally is harmful to the existence of mankind because it bulldozes the structures upon which economic virility can prosper. Therefore, the need to promote criminology and security studies is very paramount. It is worthy of note, to lay emphasis on one of the most important unique attributes of criminologists; they see the breakdown of norms as the underlying cause of social problems.
All over the world, the issue of security has become a global affair. According to the South African’s White Paper on Defense, 1996, “Security can be defined as an all-encompassing condition in which individual citizen lives in freedom, peace and safety, participate fully in the process of governance, enjoy the protection of fundamental rights, have access to resources and the basic necessities of life; and inhibit an environment which is not detrimental to their health and well-being.” The state of being free from any threat within or without, underscores the importance of putting in place actions and structures that can ensure the shelving of a people away from any harm. The global economic crisis witnessed on daily basis arise as a result of the fact that world leaders have not been able to put in place adequate laws and security measures which will curb crime; coupled with the fact that the existing criminal and civil administrative laws have not be fully observed and implemented. In the same vein, such laws need to be integrated internationally.
Consequently, there is no doubt that Africa’s economy needs to be reshaped to be credit-oriented in order to meet up with contemporary challenges and international standard. The idea behind a credit economic system is to encourage fiscal discipline through constant criminological awareness, to make the economy productive and to ensure even distribution of wealth. By fiscal or monetary discipline, I mean that ‘credit’ is not given to anyone whose credit worthiness is questionable or better still, anyone whose portfolio is full of criminal records. The word ‘credit’ has two connotations: an agreement by which something of value- goods, services or money is given in exchange for a promise to pay at a later date; and a lender’s agreement to advance funds based on an estimation that the debt will eventually be repaid or to refrain from collecting a previously existing debt, as in refinancing a given project. The world is witnessing global economic crisis because credit-driven economic systems practiced in most developed counties of the world like USA, United Kingdom, Australia, etc is not evenly distributed.The aim of Criminal Justice is to restore confidence, integrity, trust, honesty, sincerity, and to promote peace; and global socio-economic integration. It is not just all about arrest and prosecution of offenders of the law but also to deter them and give the society a sense of decency and orderliness.
Ladies and Gentlemen, one thing you must note today about Criminal Justice, especially in Nigeria is that the major reason why we have more people with corrupt mindset, people I call ‘executive looters’ than those with positive mindset is that criminological awareness created to ensure strict implementation of various criminal laws in our various states is either inadequate or that equal treatments are not given to offenders of the law. Anyone who deviates from the standard or socio-economic norms operative in their respective countries should be labeled “Criminal” and must be treated as same. It is only when justice is applied homogenously that the desired economic progress and or economic integration will suffice and more people will desist from actions and reactions capable of bringing disrepute to their names and in other way round, bring global economic crisis to a diminishing proportion both on the local international scales.
In view of the above, I want to call on the Nigerian Government to accord priority to the development of Criminal Justice Systems in the country. Insecurity is threatening our collective existence and continued oneness as a nation. If we must gather again next time to mark this noble occasion, then those who are qualified to clap and dance the music of Criminal Justice System are those who frown at lawlessness in every ramification!
Therefore, there is room for improvement in our Criminal Justice System. My participation at the last 2012 16th World Congress of the International Society for Criminology and Security (ISC), which took place in Kobe Japan, which examined Global Socio-Economic Crisis and Crime Control Policies: Regional and National Comparison really widened my academic horizon; to pursue vigorously a career in Criminology and to remain an apostle of crime prevention, prosecution and prohibition both in Nigeria and across the globe!
I enjoin you all Ladies and Gentlemen to see the event of today as a remarkable one and as a very important day for all who love justice, law and order. There is no better time to reposition the nation’s Security than now! The students of National Open University of Nigeria, especially those in the field of Criminology and Security Studies should be well developed so that in nearest future, they can emerge corruption-free criminologists who will quench the thirst of the government to inject new blood into the Nigerian Security industry.
The government of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has given premium interest to Security and law enforcement in Nigeria. There is urgent need to implement various policies and Reforms on Police: 2005 Judicial Commission of enquiry into the Apo 6 killings; 2006 Presidential Committee on Reform of the Police headed by Retired DIG Muhammed Dan Madami; 2008 Mohammed D. Yusuf Panel; 2012 Osayande panel on Police reforms and other White Papers on security should be reviewed and implemented.
The Nigerian Police Force (NPF) and other security agencies should acclimatize themselves with the nine principles of Robert Peel, the founder of modern policing as shown below:
In a broader perspective, a United States National Advisory Commission on criminal Justice Standards and Goals identified eleven (11) functions of the police, and from all indications, these functions have universal application:
In conclusion, there is need to train personnel of Criminal Justice Systems in Nigeria to operate and compete with international standard. The Nigerian Police is poorly trained, hired and fired. There is weak intelligence gathering in the police. The majority of those who are recruited into the system do not have basic education. As a result of that, their knowledge of Criminal Law is very low. The police should be trained and paid properly! This current infiltration of the Boko Haram into our security system is basically because our law enforcement agencies have not been able to outwit them in terms of intelligence and information security. The challenges ahead of us are to fashion out reliable security plans and adopt the best practices in tackling the issue of insecurity from the grassroot. Our collective existence is attached on the pendulum of socio-economic fragility if nothing is done to stop these heinous activities of this terrorist group. The provisions of Section 13-18 of the 1999 Constitution which talk about Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy should be urgently implemented.
The Anti-Fraud Unit of the law enforcement should be created and if there is any such agency already in existence, it must be revitalized. The internet fraudsters have given Nigeria bad name in the comity of nations. Those who are close to the internet community can attest to the validity of my claims. We must begin to sensitize our children to desist from domestic disobedience, absenteeism, truancy, cheating lying and lazing around. We must educate our youths to shun immoralities, cultism and gangsterism, examination malpractices and all manners of fraudulent activities. Above all, our leaders and members of the public should be made to have basic knowledge of criminal law. Those who are corrupt should be brought to book without bias and prejudices. The progress of social, religious and economic development of Nigeria is dependent upon the growth and implementation of Criminal Justice programmes in Nigeria. Good Governance in Africa is attainable if Criminal Justice Systems are improved and law and order thrive in the society.
Thank you for your attention
Happy Criminal Justice Day!
Add a Comment