Academic journal article International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences

Pathways and Trajectories to Life-Course Persistent Armed Robbery Offending Behavior in Contemporary Nigeria: Examining the Predictors and the Risks Factors

Academic journal article International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences

Pathways and Trajectories to Life-Course Persistent Armed Robbery Offending Behavior in Contemporary Nigeria: Examining the Predictors and the Risks Factors

Article excerpt

Introduction

In response to the ever-rising incidence of armed robbery in Nigeria, many criminologists have continued to search for plausible explanation for this type of criminal behavior. Following the traditional footsteps of criminologists and scholars of social problems, some Nigerian criminologists and scholars such as Marenin (1987), Olurode (1991), Otu (2003, 2010), Iwarmimie-Jaja (1987, 1993, 1998, 1999b), Ekpeyong (1989) have engaged some traditional criminology theories to demonstrate that armed robbery is either linked to the individual characteristics, or the broad socio-economic variables such as deprivation in terms of unemployment or joblessness, low income, and generally poverty and family disruption.

Every crime is, however, apparently unique in its own way-in terms of the motive, characteristics of the offenders and victims, the social context under which it occurs, techniques used, damages which resulted, and reactions of the victims and public (see Sutherland & Cressey, 1960, p. 237). This uniqueness also includes the social processes and trajectories by which these offending behaviors are initiated and nurtured into persistent life-course career.

Previously, Sutherland (1939), Sutherland and Cressey (1960) had become more lucid about the pathways to persistent life-course offending behavior when they explained that the life histories of persons who become an adult life robbers and burglars show that criminality proceeds from trivial (predatory) to serious (high profile), from occasional to frequent, from sport (recreational) to business (career), and from individuals or loosely organized groups to rather tightly organized groups. Implied in Sutherland and Cressey's argument, therefore, was that to become an armed robber requires for instance, that the intending person must have engaged previously, in other minor crimes, and acquire the experiences which are necessary and sufficient to do armed robbery. Fundamentally, Sutherland and later with Cressey explained that armed robbery behavior must be learned and that the learning includes, the techniques, the skills, the slang, motives and rationalizations for the criminal behavior (see also Shaw 1930, 1931; Sutherland, 1939; Sutherland & Cressey, 1960; Smith, Frazee, & Davison, 2000, p. 489).

The importance of relying on offenders' background and their previous delinquent experiences to account for a life-course of adult criminality (by extending their participation in high profile crimes such as armed robbery) has been recognized by many criminologists (see for e.g. Moffitt, 1993; Thornberry et al., 1994; Thornberry, 1987, Ferguson, Hordwood & Nagin, 2000, p. 544; Patterson, 1996; Patterson et al., 1989, 1998). The extant literature on the subject has shown that there are some antisocial misconduct which may serve as warning signals of progression into life-course persistent adult career criminal behavior.

In what also appears to be a reflection of the trajectories of offending behavior, Farrington (1995), Bursik and Grasmick (1993), Wikstrom and Loeber (2000) and Smith, Frazee and Davison (2000) explained that spatial factors such as distance and convenience affect the chances that criminal careers will initiate, escalate or desist. However, following this thesis on criminal career trajectories, our current understanding of the pathway to armed robbery in Nigeria may be inadequate or at its incipient stage. Iwarimie-Jaja (1993, 1994, 1999b), a Nigerian criminologist, while leaning on Sutherland's decades' writings on learning criminal behavior explained that armed robbery is a high profile crime which no one can just wake up one day and venture into. He, therefore, argued that armed robbery must be preceded by other kinds of predatory or previous crimes which are learnt and practiced by career armed robbers before engaging fully in the criminal career.

It is against this understanding that armed robbery is viewed as one of the high profile crimes which are very much likely to be preceded by other kinds of predatory/previous crimes or experiences as risk factors that this present study sets out to investigate the probable risk and predictive factors to armed robbery in Nigeria. …

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