Using the Instrumentality of Law to Curb Crime – By Evans Ufeli Esq.

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Evans-ufeli
Evans Ufeli

From the very beginning of human history law has always played the role of an instrument of social control. Societies in agreement enacted customs, traditions and canons as a means of socio-economic control in the days of yore, for the smooth running of human activities. The frontiers of human existence further gain credibility via providence and the intellectual headliners of the early human society remain the forerunners and harbingers of knowledge in human history. Through this era law  became the highest reasoning embedded by nature which permits what should be done and forbids the contrary. Crime was then dealt with through the instrumentality of law as inhuman activities were made offences and penalties for the said offences were made known to all through the law. Crime is a public wrong; any act that seems to undermine the aspirations of the collective entity of the state.

One of the major ways of using the law as an instrument for curbing crime in Nigeria is to make chapter two of the constitution realistic and justiciable. Chapter two of the 1999 constitution as amended, which is from section 13 is an embodiment of the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policies. This chapter of the constitution provides for our socio-economic rights which has to do with the provisions of our socio-economic  needs. The constitution states thus

” 13. It shall be the duty and responsibility of all organs of government, and of all authorities and persons, exercising legislative, executive or judicial powers, to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of this Chapter of this Constitution.

  1. (1) The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice.

(2) It is hereby, accordingly, declared that:

(a) sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority;

(b) the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government: and

(c) the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.

(3) The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.

(4) The composition of the Government of a State, a local government council, or any of the agencies of such Government or council, and the conduct of the affairs of the Government or council or such agencies shall be carried out in such manner as to recognise the diversity of the people within its area of authority and the need to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the people of the Federation.

  1. (1) The motto of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress.

(2) Accordingly, national integration shall be actively encouraged, whilst discrimination on the grounds of place of origin, sex, religion, status, ethnic or linguistic association or ties shall be prohibited.

(3) For the purpose of promoting national integration, it shall be the duty of the State to:

(a) provide adequate facilities for and encourage free mobility of people, goods and services throughout the Federation.

(b) secure full residence rights for every citizen in all parts of the Federation.

(c) encourage inter-marriage among persons from different places of origin, or of different religious, ethnic or linguistic association or ties; and

(d) promote or encourage the formation of associations that cut across ethnic, linguistic, religious and or other sectional barriers.

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(4) The State shall foster a feeling of belonging and of involvement among the various people of the Federation, to the end that loyalty to the nation shall override sectional loyalties.

(5) The State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.

  1. (1) The State shall, within the context of the ideals and objectives for which provisions are made in this Constitution.

(a) harness the resources of the nation and promote national prosperity and an efficient, a dynamic and self-reliant economy;

(b) control the national economy in such manner as to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity;

(c) without prejudice to its right to operate or participate in areas of the economy, other than the major sectors of the economy, manage and operate the major sectors of the economy;

(d) without prejudice to the right of any person to participate in areas of the economy within the major sector of the economy, protect the right of every citizen to engage in any economic activities outside the major sectors of the economy.

(2) The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring:

(a) the promotion of a planned and balanced economic development;

(b) that the material resources of the nation are harnessed and distributed as best as possible to serve the common good;

(c) that the economic system is not operated in such a manner as to permit the concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of few individuals or of a group; and

(d) that suitable and adequate shelter, suitable and adequate food, reasonable national minimum living wage, old age care and pensions, and unemployment, sick benefits and welfare of the disabled are provided for all citizens.

(3) A body shall be set up by an Act of the National Assembly which shall have power;

(a) to review, from time to time, the ownership and control of business enterprises operating in Nigeria and make recommendations to the President on same; and

(b) to administer any law for the regulation of the ownership and control of such enterprises.

(4) For the purposes of subsection (1) of this section –

(a) the reference to the “major sectors of the economy” shall be construed as a reference to such economic activities as may, from time to time, be declared by a resolution of each House of the National Assembly to be managed and operated exclusively by the Government of the Federation, and until a resolution to the contrary is made by the National Assembly, economic activities being operated exclusively by the Government of the Federation on the date immediately preceding the day when this section comes into force, whether directly or through the agencies of a statutory or other corporation or company, shall be deemed to be major sectors of the economy;

(b) “economic activities” includes activities directly concerned with the production, distribution and exchange of weather or of goods and services; and

(c) “participate” includes the rendering of services and supplying of goods.

  1. (1) The State social order is founded on ideals of Freedom, Equality and Justice.

(2) In furtherance of the social order-

(a) every citizen shall have equality of rights, obligations and opportunities before the law;

(b) the sanctity of the human person shall be recognised and human dignity shall be maintained and enhanced;

(c) governmental actions shall be humane;

(d) exploitation of human or natural resources in any form whatsoever for reasons, other than the good of the community, shall be prevented; and

(e) the independence, impartiality and integrity of courts of law, and easy accessibility thereto shall be secured and maintained.

(3) The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring that-

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(a) all citizens, without discrimination on any group whatsoever, have the opportunity for securing adequate means of livelihood as well as adequate opportunity to secure suitable employment;

(b) conditions of work are just and humane, and that there are adequate facilities for leisure and for social, religious and cultural life;

(c) the health, safety and welfare of all persons in employment are safeguarded and not endangered or abused;

(d) there are adequate medical and health facilities for all persons:

(e) there is equal pay for equal work without discrimination on account of sex, or on any other ground whatsoever;

(f) children, young persons and the age are protected against any exploitation whatsoever, and against moral and material neglect;

(g) provision is made for public assistance in deserving cases or other conditions of need; and

(h) the evolution and promotion of family life is encouraged.

  1. (1) Government shall direct its policy towards ensuring that there are equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels.

(2) Government shall promote science and technology

(3) Government shall strive to eradicate illiteracy; and to this end Government shall as and when practicable provide

(a) free, compulsory and universal primary education;

(b) free secondary education;

(c) free university education; and

(d) free adult literacy programme.

  1. The foreign policy objectives shall be –

(a) promotion and protection of the national interest;

(b) promotion of African integration and support for African unity;

(c) promotion of international co-operation for the consolidation of universal peace and mutual respect among all nations and elimination of discrimination in all its manifestations;

(d) respect for international law and treaty obligations as well as the seeking of settlement of international disputes by negotiation, mediation, conciliation, arbitration and adjudication; and

(e) promotion of a just world economic order.

  1. The State shall protect and improve the environment and safeguard the water, air and land, forest and wild life of Nigeria.
  2. The State shall –

(a) protect, preserve and promote the Nigerian cultures which enhance human dignity and are consistent with the fundamental objectives as provided in this Chapter; and

(b) encourage development of technological and scientific studies which enhance cultural values.

  1. The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this Chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people.
  2. The national ethics shall be Discipline, Integrity, Dignity of Labour, Social, Justice, Religious Tolerance, Self-reliance and Patriotism.
  3. It shall be the duty of every citizen to –

(a) abide by this Constitution, respect its ideals and its institutions, the National Flag, the National Anthem, the National Pledge, and legitimate authorities;

(b) help to enhance the power, prestige and good name of Nigeria, defend Nigeria and render such national service as may be required;

(c) respect the dignity of other citizens and the rights and legitimate interests of others and live in unity and harmony and in the spirit of common brotherhood;

(d) make positive and useful contribution to the advancement, progress and well-being of the community where he resides;

(e) render assistance to appropriate and lawful agencies in the maintenance of law and order; and

(f) declare his income honestly to appropriate and lawful agencies and pay his tax promptly.

It must be stated here that one cannot sue government in the event that these right are violated because the said right are not justiceable except

In special cases where a separate law has been enact on one or more of the above stated items.

It is critical to note that crime is almost always not unconnected to poverty. Where people are impoverished the likelihood or tendencies to engage in crime is usually higher. When a man life is threatened basically by the lack of what to eat then it becomes difficult for everyone to get him to do the right thing. But if government creates a system through policies, that will help him find his bearing in the scheme  of things this will pretty make life worthwhile for him. In countries where the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policies are implemented crime rate is lower because there is a sense of belonging and the citizens feel the urge to serve their father irrespective of the challenges of life. Sweden and Netherlands  have experienced such a sharp fall in the number of prison admissions in the past two years that it has decided to close down many of her prisons and a remand centre for want of inmates. These are countries that have deliberately care for her citizens through policies and sound socio-economic development plan such that there will be no need to commit crime in such an environment except for habitual criminal who engage in crime for other purposes.

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A look at the educational system in Nigeria is one other  area where legislations need to be enacted to propel national growth and human resources. The educational index of the citizens determines their level of self – awareness which is a formidable factor in human and national transformation. The impact assessment indices of society is primarily tie to her policy on education. Education is the ornaments of prosperity and refuge in adversity. Nigeria has no concrete plan for the educational sector as this is evident on her 2017 Appropriation Bill. A Budget of 50 Billion naira for education without a blueprint for sustainable and pragmatic educational plan and objective will definitely not move us forward. Today, we have a budget of 150 billion naira for securiy because over the years we neglected education such that there’s now a harvest of insurgents who based on the failure of the Nigerian system took to religion and became fierce extremist. These insurgents are easily recruited to pull down Nigeria because Nigeria first failed to empower her citizens to develop their inner faculties. The security threat we have in Nigeria are not unconnected to the failure of government to provide basic education for her citizens.

We can also curb crime by making laws to take care of unemployment. Law as a means of social control is a veritable tool in this regard. The government should make a law to absorbed new graduates into the Airforce, Army and Navy for the first five years of their  career  and then leave it to them to chose whether to continue or not after five years, in so doing the government will have further trained  them to be self-reliant. Others can be trained on enterprenuring and a host of other vocation that will keep them enterprising and productive throughout their lives. Directing the right policy and engaged the populace through legislation is the surest way to curb unemployment and crime using law as a veritable instrument. Our lawmakers should know that the existing laws of Nigeria on unemployment cannot solve the problem and forces contending our polity. Something urgent and drastic must be done to savage this country from the verge of collapse. We must deepen our legislative margin to growth the frontiers of socio-economic wellbeing so as the clinch on the promises of democracy and conquer the forces that undermines the prescient structures of democracy.

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