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JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT VOLUME 8 NO 2, DECEMBER, 2010


 

AN EVALUATION OF THE EFFECT OF ARMED ROBBERY

ON NIGERIAN ECONOMY

 

Peter Emeka Arinze

Department of Management Sciences, University of Jos, Jos,Nigeria

E-mail:arinzee@unijos.edu.ng

Abstract

This study contends that neither unemployment rate (UER), per capital income (PCI) nor inflation rate (IFR) has an impact on the incidence of armed robbery in Nigeria.  It is the desire of this research to establish an empirical framework within which the role of economic variables on the incidence of armed robbery will be better understood.  The objective of this research is to explore the role of economic factors in criminal behaviour using available data on armed robbery in Nigeria. The research is essentially descriptive and historical.  Data for the research has been collected from publications of the Federal Office of Statics, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Nigeria Police Force Annual Reports and miscellaneous sources.  The study revealed that unemployment is responsible for the largest proportion of armed robbery causes in Nigeria.  It also found that the relatively high rate of inflation, which eroded real incomes, also has some impact on the armed robbery in Nigeria.  The study concluded that criminal justice system in Nigeria does not do a highly effective job of increasing the private cost to criminals.

 

Keywords:Armed, robbery, economy, effects

 

Introduction


In any form, which is devoted to a discussion of the crime problem, one is likely to hear a great deal about the present “armed robbery crisis”. 

United Nations report in 1993 stated that for every 100 Nigerians, 40 are criminals (UN 1994).  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.  As a result, curfew was imposed and movements were restricted into certain areas at a given time.  The present crime crisis is never pictured as being simple.  It is represented as a complex combination of several interlocking problems.  The civil war and its aftermath the demobilization of serving military personnel in 1970 and recently economic crisis provided a basis for the violent crime of armed robbery which has graduated to a daily occurrence, plus Nigeria’s structural adjustment programme could not disassociate from the emergence of the high crime rate, accordingly, the paragraphs, which follow are devoted to an examination of several aspects of the armed robbery crisis.

 

Thus, in less developed societies like Nigeria, crime has become a booming industry with about two hundred million dollars annual turnover.  The industry provides employment to thousands of youths and adults for whom orthodox opportunities are not available, and to whom alternative sources of income are absent.  Along with activities like prostitution, the crime industry belongs to that sector of the economy known as the “underground economy” with the following economic characteristics: Time Magazine (1981).

(a)                Its organisation is informal as it is not recognised by law.  Hence there exists problem of identification of the size of the population involved.

(b)               It exhibits the characteristics of a perfect market with demand for and supply of criminals not subject to barriers of entry and exit.

(c)                Investment in criminal activity is a high risk investment, and the returns are also high, when it is successful.

(d)               Income from criminal activity is free of any form of government taxes or accountability.

(e)                 

 

 

Review of literature

Nigeria experienced a period of relative freedom from incidences of high crime during her first decade of independence from 1970 to 2000.  The growth of the crime situation permeates virtually all aspects of violent and non-violent crimes are phenomena of the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.  Table one lists the various types of crime and their growth over the years.  The table indicates that since the 1999, crime has witnessed about 45% growth rate.

 

The earliest evidence on the crime situation in Nigeria provided by Chamblis (2005) indicates a very low incidence of crime in the 1960s.  This was, however, to witness a remarkable increase in the second half of the 1970s and an explosion in the 2005.  For instance, while statistics show that in 1967, the total number of reported crimes documented by the police was 55,957, by 1984 this figure has gone up to 372,558 (Adeyemi, A. 1989).  Similarly, figures provided by Table one show that the total number of people convicted for criminal offences rose from 182,738 in 1979 to 462,948 in 1990.  It can be seen at a very general level that the worsening of the crime situation has followed closely the worsening of the Nigerian crisis, which is a crisis of economic and resources management to which the Nigerian ruling class have run short of solution.  Okoye (2000) captured the result of this deficient resource management thus:

One result of this is that the Nigerian economy is today, gripped by a several crisis, characterised by a runaway inflation and shortage of essential goods and services, paralysis of industrial production and collapse of infrastructural facilities, mass unemployment and retrenchment of workers, widespread corruption and a huge debt burden.


 

Research methodology

This research is essentially descriptive and historical.  Data for the research has been collected from publications of the Federal Office of Statistics, the Central bank of Nigeria, Nigeria Police Force Annual Reports and Miscellaneous sources.  For want of adequate data, the research covers a period of 12 years (1994-2005).

 

The limitation of the study lies in paucity of literature on armed robbery in Nigeria and finally in the limitations of the statistical procedure used in the research.

 

Methods of data analysis

The percentages were used in analysis of data.  This involves the use of statistical techniques to reduce data to a quantifiable form.  Data are edited, coded and tabulated to help reach some conclusions or help interpret hypothesis.  Data are processed by tabulation and analysis so that comparisons can be made and inferences drawn based on the tabulation and specifically test of hypothesis.

 


 

 

 

 


Table 1 :Selected major crime statistics, reported 1979-1990

 

1979

1980

1981

1982

1983

1984

1985

1986

1987

1988

1989

1990

Murder

999

1388

1573

1760

1698

1633

1520

1786

1857

1381

1427

1539

Manslaughter

163

152

120

289

79

86

66

218

174

123

67

54

Assault

40123

42855

51584

45572

41649

37203

39402

55153

52204

49413

43824

50009

Child stealing

67251

68505

51699

59606

61344

61945

48912

63067

63161

178343

81378

82305

Armed Robbery/Burglary

72160

63360

98560

124080

139920

86240

106480

140800

179520

301840

140799

327360

Offences against Drug Act

875

1037

1525

1769

1228

1611

1062

896

1299

84

48

107

Forgery

1156

1665

1667

1779

1655

1481

1510

2184

2640

1816

1819

1422

Total

182738

178962

206728

234855

247673

190199

198953

264104

279050

325861

269477

462948

 

Source:            Compiled from information on crime as provided by the Nigeria Police Force.

 


Several attempts have been made to identify the most important factors responsible for this rise in the crime rate in Nigeria.  A consensus opinion has traced this to the nature of the Nigerian state and state policy and its impact on the economic order.  For instance, there is the belief that as a neo-colonial capitalist state, Nigeria is susceptible to those vices integral to capitalists development, one of which is crime.  Besides, the Nigerian state is also subject to the crisis of global capitalism with its cycles of booms and recessions.  According to Egwu (2004) and Adelakun (2004), the response of the Nigerian state to this crisis is in the form of retrenchment, mass unemployment and food crisis, all of which have led to the worsening of the crime situation in Nigeria.

 

However, other researchers have linked the crime situation in Nigeria to purely economic factors.  Thus, Odekunle (2005) singled out relative poverty and unemployment as justification for criminal behaviour in Nigerian towns and cities. 

 

Still others traced the increasing crime rate to the problem of declining incomes and low savings.  In their findings, Akinrinde (2007) contended that with no income coming in, and no savings to fall back on, many retrenched people are said to have found themselves in a struggle for survival.  Many that cannot find alternative jobs, but must keep body and soul together decide to plunge into crime.  In a similar line of argument is the contention that crime in Nigeria is a social reaction to inequalities of income distribution, which has led to great income inequalities, in-spite of the oil boom of the 1970s and 1980s.  According to Lawanson (2005), the culture of “spraying money” at social occasions by the haves or the rich induced the have-nots to violence. 

 

Akinrinde (2007) also asserted that during the oil boom, “big money” (sic) went into a few hands and greatly sharpened the existing gap between the rich and the poor.Other important characteristics of crime in Nigeria are that crime is mainly an urban phenomenon.  This provides a credible explanation for numerical differential between crime incidences, between crime in the southern and northern parts of Nigeria.  The south of Nigeria, which is more urbanised, shares a higher proportion of armed robbery incidences than the less urbanised north.  Finally, on the whole, the economics of armed robbery in Nigeria cannot be understood outside the economics of crime since the former is an integral part of the latter.  The issue at stake is that armed robber has emerged as the most prominent crime situation in Nigeria.  This manifestation of the armed robbery has served as a barometer for measuring the impulse of the crime situation in Nigeria, to this extent, an understanding of the causal factors influencing other forms of crime in Nigeria.

 

Results and discussions

The table below, which are self-explanatory, are indicators of what could be taken for most prevalent armed robbery and economic variables during the period under review.  Crime prevention faced daunting challenges in the year 1994, when the inflation rate was 57%, per capita income rate was 23.18 and unemployment rate 7.3%.  It would be observed that employment rate of 7.3% was not the actual employment rate.  This figure is suspect because – unemployment in developing countries is always an endemic.  It is always a double-digit unemployment rate.  The year 1995 witnessed an appreciable reduction in the armed robbery/burglary offences against persons when compared with the year 1994.  From a total of 70460 in 1994, the armed robbery/burglary fall slightly to 64424 in 1995.  This was 3.7% which worked out to mean that 37 out of every one thousand (1000) Nigerians suffered one kind of the armed robbery offences against persons in 1994.

 

In 1996, armed robbery burglary offences increased to 96860 from 64424 in 1995 showing an increase of 26.7 percent above 1995.  The employment rate also increased to 11.8% when compared with 1994.  While inflation rate and per capita income was 29%, 11.8% respectively.  In-spite of various measures by the Nigerian Police Force to combat crime rate, such as creation of the security measure, Intelligence Bureau in 1996, it would be observed that armed robbery offences sky rocked.  In 1997, armed robbery increase to 12514 from 96860 in 1996, then 13820 in 1998.  While the inflation rate was 8.5% in 1997, 10% in 1998, and unemployment rate was 10.9% and 11% respectively.  The per capita income rate was 29.64 in 1997 and 50.91 in 1998 respectively. 


 


Table 2:           Statistics for armed robbery, inflation,

per capital income, unemployment 1994-2005

 

 

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

Armed Robbery/Burglary

70460

64424

96860

125144

138220

87940

104780

181220

180150

182920

183984

185048

Inflation

57.0

72.8

29.3

8.5

10

6.6

7.4

18.9

12.9

19

22.9

21

Per capital income

23.18

12.38

28.80

29.64

50.91

69.69

26.35

106.82

36.91

23.15

21.95

20.26

Unemployment

7.3

12.3

11.8

10.9

11.0

9

13

13

19

19.5

20.0

22.5


This increase worked out as 16.5% indicating that for every one thousand Nigerians in 1998, one hundred and sixty-five (165) suffered armed robbery attack.  The year 1999 also witnessed a decreased from a total of 138220 in 1998, it went down to 87940 in 1999, while inflation went down to 6.6% in 1998 from 10% in 1998.  Unemployment went down to 9% in 1999 from 11.0% in 1998, while per capita income rate went up to 69.09 in 1998 from 50.91 in 1998.

 

In 2000, armed robbery/burglary offences witnessed 11.4% increase from 87940 in 1999, and 181220 in 2001, about 45% growth rate.  The year 2002 to 2005 also witnessed an increase in armed robbery burglary offences against persons.  It decreased to 180150 in 2002 as against 181220 in 2001, then increased to 182920 in 2003, 183984 in 2004 and 185048 in 2005 respectively.  The inflation rate was 12.9% in 2002, 19% in 2003, 22.9% in 2004 and 21% in 2005, see the table II, while unemployment rate was 19% in 2002, 19.5% in 2003 and 70% in 2004 and 22.5% in 2005 respectively, while per capita income was 36.91 rate in 2002, 23.15 in 2003, 21.95% in 2004 and 20.26 respectively.

 

There is no available statistics on the number of convictions over the period in review, but at 31st December 2005, the number of armed robbers charged to court was 173 according to police report, while number convicted was 103, number under investigation was 48, Police Annual Report (2005).

 

Thus, the result of the analysis revealed that unemployment is responsible for the largest proportion of armed robbery causes in Nigeria.  It was also found that the relatively high rate of inflation, which eroded real incomes, also has some impact on the armed robbery in Nigeria.  Thus, this gives credence to the most commonly mentioned factor for wave of armed robbery in Nigeria.  The lack of jobs, Nigeria economy has an endemic unemployment and underemployment problems.  This is no doubt that unemployment rate among young adults are substantially high.

 

Economic approaches to crime prevention

In the light of the obvious failures of earlier approaches of crime prevention and control in Nigeria, crime prevention and control methods should be determined by understanding of the causes of crime.  The Nigerian authorities have in the past, perceived crime as a product of individual maladjustment.  Thus, policies evolved for this purpose are informed by the classical pain pleasure principle, and thus decide issues of crime prevention and control mainly within a legal framework.  It is only in this light that the first Robbery and Firearms Special provision Decree No. 47 of 1970 can be understood.  The Decree established the Robbery and Firearms Tribunal to try all cases of suspected armed robberies.  And the suspect on conviction was executed by firing squad.

 

The increasing rate of armed robbery and the boom in private security business all bear clear testimony to this approach to crime control and prevention.  This approach has met total failure because it neither recognises nor seek to address the economic factors underlying criminal behaviour in general and armed robbery in particular.  Instead of aiming at economic rehabilitation of the criminal, it employs legal violence, which is mainly punitive rather than reformative.

 

An alternative approach to crime and prevention is the reliance of the authorities on the Nigerian Police Force as agents of law enforcement.  Idyorough (2000) highlighted this miscalculation when he pointed out that:

When crime rate skyrocketed, the funding of the police is viewed as the best alternative.

 

He was of the opinion that the increase in crime and delinquency in Nigeria in the 1980s was structurally induced and needs nothing short of restructuring the economy in favour of the poor masses.

The law and order approach of the police, like its policy predecessor, has also failed to stem the determination of the criminals.  The standard excuse for this failure is to blame it on the unwillingness of the public to expose armed robbers in their midst, and on the fact that the Nigerian police is very ill-equipped to cope with the sophisticated operational logistic of the criminals.  But the reasons for their failure are far beyond these superficial manifestations.

 

Secondly, members of the Police Force themselves are victims of the same vicious economic arrangement that had created the armed robber.  Therefore, if connivance with the armed robber holds any prospects for greater monetary windfalls, then they will prefer to err in their duty on the side of selfish interest.  Thus, members of the police force actively connive with suspected armed robbers to both sustain and promote crime in society.  It was to prove this mutual linkage that the notorious armed robber of the Anini gang, Monday Osunbor asserted that “without police, there would be no crime, Idyorough (2000).  And the most celebrated proof of this collaboration was represented by the cause of George Iyamu, the police officer who was executed along with members of the Lawrence Anini gang of armed robbers in 1986.

 

Crime prevention programme can be viewed as attempts to increase the private costs and reduce the resulting net private benefits incurred by the individual from criminal acts, Akinmade (2006).  The criminal justice system is comprised of four major related areas: crime prevention (such as employment programmes), detection and apprehension (such as police officers, vehicles, communication system), the courts and detention (such as maintaining prisoners), and rehabilitation programme.

 

Armed robbery as a social cost

In addition, police expenditure for crime prevention are made by every classes of government in Nigeria – local, state, and federal.  In 2005, the federal government budgeted $51,516,750 for the police department, Police Annual Report (2005).  Also, in 2005, an estimated 185048 cases (Table II) of armed robbery were reported nationwide, property valued over $23,407,806.50 were reported lost.  In total, more than $102 million was spent to combat crime in Nigeria in 2005 (4 percent of net national product).

 

How did the federal government determine that budget for crime prevention of about $51.5 million for 2005.  In short, run they were faced with a total budget of a given size and had to decide how to carve it up between law enforcement and other national demands, such as defence, education, health and revenue sharing.  Just as police chief can try to determine what combination of men and equipment within his fixed budget will deter the greatest amount of crime, the federal government will attempt to choose a combination of spending on all agencies that will yield the maximum amount of public services.  The short run constraint of fixed budget for law enforcement may be altered in the long run by going to the federal government and asking for increased funds for crime prevention.  The federal government then has to wrestle with the same allocation problem that has engaged the law enforcement agencies only by tightening the belt in some other areas such as education expenditure or defence expenditure.  The same familiar calculations must now be made on national levels: will spending an additional dollar on higher education yield greater returns for society than the same dollar given to law enforcement agency to allocate to crime prevention?  The same difficult problem arises in measuring the dollar value on non-priced services resulting from any given federal expenditure.

To keep law enforcement agency functioning, the federal government can raise taxes.  The allocation problem will be widened.  The increased taxes will reduce the disposable income of some part of the citizenry.  Those who pay the additional public services must in turn decide whether they feel the additional public services made available are worthwhile.  For example, they must decide whether the reduction in crime attributable to an increased expenditure on law enforcement is as valuable to them as the goods they could have enjoyed from the increased taxed money.

 

The present operation of the criminal justice system does not appear to do a highly effective job of increasing the net private costs to criminals.  The private costs of criminal activity can be increased through deterrence programmes in either the private or public sector.  For example, if a large increase in paroling by police took place business firms and private households would not have to spend much for private securities.  Improving the structure of the court of law and facilities can also increase the private cost of criminal activity.  For example, the judges have to write cases by hand as opposed to employment of legal secretaries.  The crowded cases in courts and frequent adjournment, sentencing takes less time than judgement.  Sometimes, the accused stays in prison for 12 years without trial, which hardens the accused and results in criminal behaviour.

 

The private costs of criminal activity can also be increased by increasing the probability of arrest or conviction such as improving the urban environment, for example lighting of streets and alleys.  With respect to the probability of arrest or conviction, the operation of the courts affects the costs involved in criminal activity (the private cost of the criminals).  If the police kills the case as is usually the case in Nigeria or if the courts are lenient, potential offenders may be more inclined to commit crimes.  If the courts have huge backlogs of cases, defendant may be out on bond for months before being imprisoned.  In addition, appeals may greatly postpone the carrying out of a court’s decision and may reduce the severity of punishment, since punishment then occurs at some future time.  But on the other hand if sentences are increased the individual may come out with greater criminal skills, which increase his net private benefits from engaging in criminal activity.  Thus, an ex-convict may be a greater menace to society and an even greater menace if the sentence is increased.

 

Conclusions

The results of this empirical investigation have shown that unemployment and inflation rather than any other factor is a principal cause of armed robbery in Nigeria.  Inflation as a measure of economic welfare has a role to play in the real income or purchasing power of the earnings of Nigerians.  Its increase over the years has led to the erosion of Nigeria’s earnings, thus, prompting unemployed to resort to armed robbery as a way of earning a living.

 

In addition, the criminal justice system in Nigeria does not appear to do a highly effective job of increasing the private cost to criminals as indicated by the fact that armed robbers were executed daily but their activities have not reduced.  Crime prevention policy may take the form of increasing the probability of arrest or conviction.  Crime may also be reduced by reducing inflation, increasing the opportunities and income that an individual can obtain from legal employment.

 

The resulting allocation of resources among crime prevention activities will eliminate certain crimes without substantially reducing others.  The ability to distinguish equity and efficiency criteria is very important in designing rational public policy toward crime.

 

References

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Adeyemi, A. (1989),    “Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders”, paper presented at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Addis Ababa, June 5-9.

 

Akinnade S. (2007), Unpublished Seminar Paper, Department of Sociology, University of Jos.

 

Akinrinade, S. (2007), “Menace of Bandits”, Newswatch, April 22. Lagos: Newswatch Communications Ltd.

 

Callaway P. (1973),     “Africa Jobless Youth” in West Africa Magazine, May 1973.

 

Chamblis W.J. (2005), The Political Economy of Crime: A Comparative Study of Nigeria and the United States” in Tay W. and Young, Critical Criminology.  London: Routledge and Kegan, Pp. 167-179.

 

Egwu, Samuel (2004), State, Crime and Ideology in Nigeria”.  Paper presented at a seminar for crime and crime control in Nigeria, University of Jos, Nov. 26.

 

Haralambas, A. (1983),           Sociology Themes and Perspectives, Slough: University Tutorial Press, p. 448.

 

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            Sociology.

 

Lawson, B.A. (2005), “Violence in Society”.  Proceedings of the concluding seminars on selected national policy matters. s, Kuru,   National Institute for Policy and Strategic StudieNov. 2005, p.257.

 

Nweze, A. (2006), The Police, Crime and Crime Control in Nigeria”.  Paper presented at a seminar for Crime and Crime Control in Nigeria, University of Jos, Nov. 26.

 

Odekunle, F.L. (2005),            “Crime and Social Defence” in Akeredolu A., Social Development in Nigeria.  Ibadan: University Press Limited, p. 68.

 

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Periodicals

CBN (2004) Annual Report and Statement of Account, Vol. 2, December.

 

CBN (2005) Financial Review, Vol. 1, December.

 

Nigerian Police Annual Report, (2005). Publication of Nigerian Police.

 

United Nations (1994) Fact Book Publication.