The Need for Establishing a Nigerian Society of Criminology

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A paper presented at the meeting of Nigerian criminologists and interested persons in related professions in criminology, held in the Garden City of Port Harcourt, at Sissi Hotel, Plot 46, Oromenike Street, D/line, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria, on October 27-28th, 2006.

Mr. Vice Chancellor, Sir,

Deans and Heads of Departments,

My Respected Colleagues and Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

I am delighted to be here this morning and feel deeply honoured to be given this opportunity to address you.

The purpose for this meeting of eminent scholars in criminology in Nigeria is to provide a forum for dialogue on the issue of the way forward for the discipline of criminology in our country. Added to this, is the issue of creating a Nigerian Society of Criminology which will be the organ to contribute most significantly and determine the life course of criminology in Nigeria. Before we go into the need for creating a Nigerian Society of criminology, let us look at the state of criminology in Nigeria today.

Criminology has not adequately been formally defined in Nigeria. As criminologists and those interested in this field of study, we have not debated the conceptual issues of what the term 'Criminology' would refer to in the Nigerian Context. I believe that this paucity of information in criminology in Nigeria can be eliminated once the Nigerian Society of Criminology has been formally established, to provide the forum for such formalized debate. We must note that this cannot be properly and formally actualized in and by any other gathering or organization. We, as criminologists and interested persons in the field of criminology have to come together in a forum and decide what the term criminology means in Nigeria and what theories will support our research endeavours based on our peculiar environment and circumstances, which are often different in many instances from those of other countries, particularly those in the western world.

As I have always contended, 'criminology is the scientific study of the totality of the phenomenon of crime and its related facets such as the effects of the application of criminal law, treatment and management of criminal offenders'. Our field of study is interdisciplinary, because it uses scientific methodologies to:

(a) Understand or comprehend the historical, philosophic, legal, behavioural, psychological, economical, political and social aspects of crime, delinquency, victimization and justice.

(b) Explore the cause or etiology, prevention, control and treatment of crime and delinquency.

(c) Measure and detect crime and delinquency in society.

(d) Examine criminal law and legal processes and procedures and their impact on the criminal, delinquent and victim; and

(e) Explore, understand and improve the law enforcement, prosecutorial, judicial and correctional instrumentalities.

Criminology has not been formally accepted as an independent discipline in Nigeria. It is, rather, regarded as a sub-discipline of sociology or law. Most countries with democratic inclinations have established societies of criminology. These countries have gone beyond accepting criminology as a discipline to accepting it, formally as an interdisciplinary science. Nigeria is now a democratic society, and therefore, there is no better time than now, to establish the Nigerian Society of Criminology to officially react to matters of criminality or crime, that relate to the concern of social order, and justice in our country; and also to encourage teachers, practitioners and researchers in the field of criminology to support scientific, scholarly and practical exchange to aid spread criminological knowledge and as well as perform their duties in accordance with professional standards and the governing laws of the country. I believe that creating the Nigerian Society of Criminology will help the country to quickly build a 'strong democracy' - a country with a government elected by majority vote and with encouraged citizen participation, public deliberation and civic education. …