THE CONTRIBUTION OF VIGILANTE GROUP IN THE MANAGEMENT OF CRIME IN KADUNA NORTH LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF KADUNA STATE
1.1 Background to the Study
Provision of adequate security is a social pre-requisite for the survival of any society. Every society takes appropriate measures to protect the lives and property of people living within its boundaries. Business and social activities may not go on freely without adequate security. This fundamental essence of security may be the reason why societies from time immemorial made efforts to police their neighbourhoods in order to secure them from criminal victimization. Security has to do with the act of preventing and protecting in order to ensure that certain facilities, equipment, persons or activities are safe from damage, pilferage, destruction, murder or disruption (Okafor, 2007).
Furthermore, insecurity impacts negatively on all citizens through losses of property, life and limb, or through loss of confidence from fear of violence. It is against this backdrop that the delivery of safety and security is considered a justifiable public good and the very essence of the state (Lubuva, 2004). Human safety and security are indeed human rights having a value of their own and serving an instrumental function in the construction of human contentment and prosperity (Odinkalu, 2005).
Vigilantism is not a recent development. Before 1900, many vigilant groups were formed in frontier areas of the United States. In 1851 and 1856, concerned citizens in San Francisco organized vigilante committees that forcibly restored peace and order (Encyclopedia Americana, vol.24:204). In South Africa, vigilante activity is frequently
justified as �filling a policing gap� due to police inefficiency, corruption and conspiracy with criminals, practical failing in the criminal justice system. In Sierra-Leone, vigilante activities have been explained in terms of police ineffectiveness in combating crimes (Brownyn, 2001).
Policing in Nigeria prior to the advent of colonialism was necessarily informal. Age
grades, masquerades, extended family, secret cults and other local organizations including
vigilante groups were used in policing various communities in Nigeria� (Igbo, 2007). Human Right Watch and Center for Law Enforcement and Education report (2003) noted that
�vigilante and other self-defense groups currently operating in Nigeria have roots that reach
deep into the country�s history. In the colonial era, some though not all independent local communities, maintained their own standing Army to defend their territory against the threat of invasion from neighbouring communities.
The proliferation of vigilante groups in contemporary Nigeria is a response to crimes and criminality that have not only increased in degree, scope and volume but also have witnessed an unprecedented change in techniques, mode of operation and sophistication and the apparent failure of the Nigeria police to rise up to the occasion. Igbo (2001) has stated
that �the apparent failure of Nigeria police to control the increasing wave of crime has led to
unilateral public action against crime and criminals in some major cities of Nigeria�. Unfortunately, social life in Nigeria has remained largely characterized by fear and insecurity (Odekunle, 2005; Odinkalu, 2005; Bach, 2004; Alemika and Chukuma, 2004).
The modern employment of vigilante groups in contemporary Nigeria is widespread. Throughout human history, ordinary men and women have paid onerous prices in order to ensure that they and their families will be protected from life choking dangers (Eke, 2002). However, in Nigeria, government is no longer associated with the organization of this essential commodity of governance and protection. Nigeria governments have virtually told Nigerians to provide for their own protection. It is deducible from the above statement that the proliferation of vigilante groups in contemporary Nigeria is as a result of increased crime rate and practical failure on the part of the police to offer protective services to the people.
Eke (2002) gave account for the origin of vigilante activities in Okpara in Delta State as lack of the presence of governmental agencies in the daily lives of its people. Okpara has a population of more than 20,000 people. It has no police station. To this end, the people had
no option than to find a way of defending and protecting themselves from criminal
victimization. In other words, police in Nigeria is understaffed and cannot cover the nook and cranny of Nigerian society. Dambazua (2007) asserted that many Nigeria communities have not looked to the Nigeria police force for their protection from violent criminals or from other sources of danger. Instead, they have resorted to other means for their own protection. These include unregulated and often violent reprisal against suspected sources of their collective endangerment. Vigilant groups were demanded by the populace for their own protection
because the people have no trust in the government�s police organization. As Farris puts it,
�fed up with soaring crime and ineffective police, Nigerians are embracing vigilante groups
despite their murderous method� (Eke, 2002).
Reports indicate that as high as 50% of Nigerians patronize the services of these community based security operatives for their protection from criminal attacks (Alemika and Chukwuma, 2005). Some state governments in Nigeria are also known to have tacitly or openly endorsed armed vigilante groups as part of their campaign against crime (Amnesty International, 2002; Akinyele, 2008). Hence, this study assesses the contribution of vigilante group in the management of crime in Kaduna North Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Security problems remain one of the universal phenomena and continue to take a frightening proportion of man peace and orderly society; its weakness alone could indeed be disastrously provocative. For decades man has been preoccupied with the arduous task of finding the most effective means of countering the menace of crime and criminals to no avail. In recent years, many communities in Nigeria have witnessed crimes of various descriptions. Thus, crime is becoming a serious problem in contemporary Nigeria. Crime has become so pervasive that the country is ranked among the high risk countries to live and work in and the control of crime in Nigerian society has remained elusive as a result of ineffective security
apparatus. (Ajayi et al 2008).
The police who are the primary agent in the fight against crime are ineffective and have consistently admitted that they are handicapped. Their ineffectiveness may be as a result of the fact that they are under-staffed, lack of resources, lacked public cooperation, poor government support and poor conditions of service resulting in ill-motivated, ill-trained, ill-equipped workforce, corruption and the fact that they are alien and structurally distant to the people they are supposed to police (NPF, 2008). These have created problem of under policing in Nigeria. Thus, violent and property crimes are committed on daily basis without detection and prosecution. Many people are being dispossessed of their valuable property and others are killed or maimed for life by armed bandits. Many people hardly sleep in their houses at night for fear of criminal victimization. Those who sleep in their houses at Night do so at their own peril. Consequently, Nigerian in general and residents of Kaduna South Local Government Area has of recent been gripped by insecurity and lawlessness as armed robbery and other violent crimes reached unprecedented levels.
The soaring rate of crime and insecurity in the country signifies threat for the peace, progress and development of the country. This is because security is a key concern for any investor aspirating to invest in any country. The citizens also need peaceful and safe environment to be able to achieve their social, economic and political dreams (Okafor, 2007). Hence, this situation of insecurity and lawlessness began to affect more than just the population of Kaduna North Local Government Area as people from the neighbouring communities who come to Kaduna North to transact business might began to stay away from its towns out of fear.
The increase in crime wave and the inability of the Nigeria police to deal with the situation effectively have given rise to the emergence of vigilante groups in its current form. These vigilante groups are to ensure the safety of both lives and property. Eke, (2002) noted that vigilantism seems to be gaining more prominence as agent of crime control in most
places. Several vigilante groups now operate in both rural and urban areas in Nigeria.
Residents see vigilante groups as an outfit they can always rely on in terms of security. Put differently, the public is skeptical about the ability of Nigeria Police to provide adequate security services alone without the involvement of the public. While several studies in Nigeria have examined the performance of vigilante group in community crime control and contributions of vigilante groups in crime control and the effect of such practices on the society, very little study have examined or evaluated the impact of the activities of vigilante groups in the control of crime. More so, most of these studies have been concentrated on other place outside Kaduna South Local Government Area. It is against this backdrop that this study aimed at assessing the contribution of vigilante group in the management of crime in Kaduna North Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
In view of the foregoing problem, this research intends to address the following questions:
1. What are the types of crimes committed by criminal elements in Kaduna North Local Government Area of Kaduna State?
2. What are the contributions of vigilante group in the management of crime in Kaduna North Local Government Area of Kaduna State?
3. What is the community perception of vigilante group in Kaduna North Local Government Area of Kaduna State?
1.4 THE OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The general objective of the study is to assess the contribution of vigilante group in the management of crime in Kaduna North Local Government Area of Kaduna State. In order to achieve the broad objective, the specific research objectives are as follows;
1. To determine the types of crimes committed by criminal elements in Kaduna North Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
2. To examine the contributions of vigilante group in the management of crime in Kaduna North Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
3. To examine the community perception of vigilante group in Kaduna North Local Government Area of Kaduna State
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study will help us have an insight on the contribution of vigilante group in the management of crime in Kaduna North Local Government Area of Kaduna State. The study will show the security gap created in communities and how vigilante groups have tended to make up for this vacuum. To this end, this may stimulate the interest of the government in providing adequate police services in both rural and urban communities or modify and assist vigilante groups to complement security efforts of the police. Furthermore, this study will be of great benefit to law enforcement agencies and other stake holders in their quest for police reform. This study will add to the existing literature on the contribution of vigilante group in the management of crime. It will also build up a data upon which future research can be based or serve as a point of reference for similar studies and stimulate further research on the contribution of vigilante group in the management of crime.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The research primarily focuses on the assessment of the contribution of vigilante group in the management of crime in Kaduna North Local Government Area of Kaduna State. The research shall be carried out within the confines of in Kaduna North Local Government Area. The confinement of this study is due to limited time and economic constraints and a large concentration of vigilante group in the study area.
1.9 Definition of Concepts
Vigilante Group: This refers to groups formed and funded by members of a particular community to fight against crime and protect lives and property of individuals
Security: This term is used here to refer to the guarantee of citizens� properties from theft and unwarranted destruction. It is sometimes used interchangeably with safety which relates to the condition of freedom or protection of the human person from victimization and avoidable injuries and death.
Crime: This means any act or omission that violates the criminal law of the state which is punishable by the state after prosecution and conviction.
Crime Management: This means all the steps and activities taken to prevent the spread and commission of crime. Often used interchangeably with crime control refers to all efforts made to ensure that crime does not occur or is reduced to the barest minimum.