Academic journal article African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies : AJCJS

Kidnapping and the Challenges Confronting the Administration of Criminal Justice in Selected States of Nigeria

Academic journal article African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies : AJCJS

Kidnapping and the Challenges Confronting the Administration of Criminal Justice in Selected States of Nigeria

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Kidnapping for ransom is not new or peculiar to Nigeria alone, as people had been kidnapped and sold into slavery during the 18th and 19th centuries (Ikime, 2006). Others were kidnapped from their homes as a result of quarrels over farmlands, child-napping was also not uncommon, as children were abducted and used for money-making rituals (Sanyaolu, 2009). The incidence remains one of the most common crimes in America, Mexico and some other parts of the world. In Nigeria, before the 1990s, cases of kidnapping were so few that there was no mention of kidnapping in the Eighth United Nations Survey on Crime Trend and Operation of Criminal Justice System conducted in 2002 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (Graham, 2005).

Statistics places Nigeria as the 3rd highest in kidnapping cases in the world. Interestingly, Nigeria has overtaken the United States of America as the latter is not even listed among the top twenty kidnapping nations in the world (Perlberg, 2013). The current dimension of kidnapping became alarming in the Niger Delta region when militants in February, 2006, abducted some oil workers ostensibly to draw global attention to the deplorable situation in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of the country. Since then, kidnapping has spread to most parts of the country, especially the south-eastern and south-southern regions of Nigeria. The targets are no longer oil workers or foreigners alone; every Nigerian is now a target. In fact, the safety of persons in Nigeria and their property cannot be guaranteed owing to the near daily incidence of kidnapping.

Kidnapping is an offence punishable under the Nigerian law. Anybody caught involved in the act is expected to face a penalty of ten years' imprisonment. Apart from this, some states like Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Enugu, Imo, Ebonyi, Rivers and Edo have passed into law a bill termed "Prohibition of Hostage Taking and Related Offences Law" with death penalty as punishment for offenders (Inyang, 2009). In further response to the rising waves of kidnapping, some states have improved their methods and strategies of stemming the menace. They have increased their funding on security matters and provided more equipment, communication gadgets, vehicles and other tools of policing to their various State Police Commands.

Only scanty cases of kidnapping have been successfully prosecuted in Nigeria but these cases are unreported. The question is: Why this unwholesome state of affairs? Ukiwo (2002), Oputa (1991) and Abati (2002) have argued that the problem lies squarely at the foot of the corrupt and corrupting role of the police and the courts which makes up the criminal justice system. Therefore, this study investigated the challenges confronting the administration of criminal justice in the prosecution of kidnap cases selected states of Nigeria.

Statement of the problem

Unarguably, one of the contemporary social problems in Nigeria today is the series of kidnapping for ransom that have assumed an unprecedented dimension with no end in sight despite the existence of the criminal justice system which ought to checkmate it (Ogugbuaja, 2010, Abati, 2010, Osumah and Aghedo, 2011). Scholars like Olong (2010) Obiora (2011), Ugwulebo (2011) and Ikpang (2011) respectively believe that challenges facing the administration of criminal justice in terms of frequency in transfer of investigating police officers, inadequate operational facilities, poor working conditions of prison officers is responsible for the recurring incidence of kidnapping. Decided cases in Nigeria courts have further exposed the inadequacies in the administration of the criminal justice as being responsible for the apparent inability of government to tame this social menace (Ndu V State, 1990 and Effiong V State, 1998). Could these factors really be the reason for the continued occurrence of kidnapping in Nigeria? This study, therefore, investigated the challenges confronting the administration of criminal justice in the prosecution of kidnap cases. …

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