THE ANALYSIS OF THE ROLES OF VICTIMS OF CRIME IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE IN NIGERIA
Background to the Study
Victims of crime pertinently form an integral part of the subject matter of criminology. Nevertheless, they have really never been accorded that due recognition. The study and analysis of criminal phenomena particularly in developing societies/countries has been reduced to basically two approaches. One of these concentrates on the analysis of criminal offender. For this approach, crime is explained essentially in terms of physically identified features of the individual offender (Gyong, 1989).
The second approach concentrates on the circumstances outside the individual offender that precipitated the commission of the crime. This approach often points to the pattern of socialization, the socio-cultural process, the nature and extent of the distribution of political power, the type of development strategy adopted by a polity, etc. Consequently, on the basis of these two approaches, whenever there is a crime problem, intellectuals and policy makers are quick to ask of what can be done to the criminals and/or the circumstantial events that precipitated such criminality. Very few ever ponder over what can be done about the victim and/or his/her circumstances.
However, the total neglect of the victim of crime in either the study or understanding of crime is historical. Historically the trend that has characterized the development of criminology has been nurtured on a faulty foundation. Such a foundation has been characterized by a uni-dimensional approach to the study of criminal phenomenon. This has manifested clearly in the development of criminological theories (Goldstein, 1984).
Starting from demo-logical explanation down through the Bio-Psychological to the socio-cultural forces that produce the individual offender or the situation of crime, and to the radical or even the Marxist perspectives, one common theme characterize them all: these explanation concentrate on the analysis of the individual offender and/or the forces that motivated his/her action (McDonald, 1975).
This historical anomaly reverberates most of the present day research efforts in criminology. After all, theories serve important guides in empirical research. But research efforts into crime and criminality have relegated the victim to the background. According to the United States President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice, “one of the neglected subjects in the study of crime is its victim” (Marek,1984:8).Odekunle (1979) reiterated this fact and further noted that governmental interests and efforts in criminology usually precede or forerun those in victimology.
The points being made is that most research efforts in the area of criminology have consistently sees the victim as playing a distinctively passive role. Yet, the victim and criminal are the parties in any crime. In other words, in realistic term, an understanding of crime and criminals cannot be said to be complete without due consideration being given to both the criminals and the victims.
The passive role accorded to the victim in the study and understanding of criminal phenomenon is further reinforced by the Criminal Justice System (CJS). A remarkable consensus of opinion demonstrates that contemporary justice administration both in the developed and developing worlds “are doing bad with crime victim” (Marek,1984:8). Right from the gate-way of the criminal justice system—the police through the courts and thereafter, the victim is subjected to a near-total neglect. The victim is shouldered with the task of playing a distinctively secondary role of mainly reporting crime. While police is required by law to treat the accused as innocent until proved guilty beyon d all “reasonable” doubt by a court of law, these legal rights are denied the victim. The victim is completely at the merciful discretion of the law enforcement agents. In cases where the police decide not to effect an arrest, and prosecute or even to allow the offender to “plea bargain”, the victim’s rights to legal recourse are limited (Siegel,1992).
Victims are required by law to serve as principal witnesses in courts. In fact, in some jurisdictions (Golsdstain, 1984), the victim is told that crime is an offence against the state and therefore, it is the business of the state to prosecute the offender on behalf of the victim.
Still in some jurisdictions, notably in Nigeria, while still suffering the effects of personal injuries, loss of property or both, the victim is legally bound to attend court sittings at his/her own expense. If, and when, the offender is convicted and sentenced accordingly, the victim does not benefit directly from either. In fact, by this development, the victim has lost two-fold; one in favour of the offender, and two, in favour of the state.
Statement of the Problem
The problems for study are as follows:
In the last few decades, humanity has witnessed the emergence of several patterns of crimes of human trafficking. Nigeria has not been exclusive as it is confronted with pervasive crime waves, issues of “Boko Haram” officially called “Jama‟atulAhlusSunnah lid Da‟awatiwa Jihad” but named Boko Haram or “Western Education is sacrilege or a sin” , in the North-East and some NorthWestern states, for example, attacks by “Boko-Haram” in Baga, Gwoza and other parts of Borno State that caused massive displacement, for example, the Book Haram group has abducted school girls at Chibok. Some of the girls were raped, some were allegedly sold to unknown persons, while some were forced into compulsory marriage at N10, 000: 00 dowry. even if the taking away of Chibok girls does not amount to human trafficking, their constitutional right to education, personal liberty, right to associate with their family members, development and right not to be subjected to force labour and or any degrading or inhuman treatment as enshrined in the Constitution has been violated. Loss of thousand of lives, destruction of houses and taking hostage of student girls, small children and their mothers, kidnapping in the Southern part of the country, which has compounded the problem of insecurity in the country.
The past and present military and political leaders lack political will of the states to deal with the current issues despite large budgetary amount that was earmarked to deal with the issue of all sorts of criminal activities like human trafficking in the country, they are not willing to put an end to the commission of such crimes and insecurity issues in the country neither are they showing any deep concern about the current position of the victims of those crimes, despite the country‟s police, civil defence and military personnel that are stationed in all angles of the country
Objectives of the Research
The objectives of this research are:
- to examine the victims of crime
- to Identify the role of victims of crime
- to Know how victims are compensated
- Appreciate the problems of victims identifying offenders
- Know the delays in prosecuting the offenders
Scope of the Research
The research examined the roles of Victims of crime in the administration of criminal justice in Nigeria “
Justification of the Study
It is justifiable to conduct research on the topic from time to time in order to provide a current finding on the above problems. It also improved the existing literatures on the knowledge of the concept of trafficking on women and children in Nigeria, both at national and international levels. It further contributed positively to the legal knowledge of regulations and procedures for the protection of human trafficking and victims of such crime in Nigeria and at international parlance, particularly to lecturers and students as well as provided materials for future research on the topic.
No doubt, every now and then, crimes are being committed. The rising trend of violent crimes have reached alarming proportion that the society is rudely exposed to high level of criminality and advancement of new and dangerous criminal activities that defy scientific advancement and threaten both survival and security of man, hence effort must be made to tackle this trend. The criminal justice system in modern times appears to be more concerned with the criminal offender. A close look at the statutory provisions, through procedural laws, to penal sanctions appears to emphasize the safeguarding of rights and interest of offenders while that of the victim of crime has little or utterly neglected under the Nigeria criminal justice system. Today in Nigeria, events have shown that no matter one‟s position or no matter how well placed you are, one could be victim of crime. Therefore something should be done to alleviate the plights of victims of crime in our criminal justice system.
The Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 recently passed into law in Nigeria, intended to revolutionize our criminal justice system with a view of checkmating the mischief inherent in the old justice system appeared to have a great attention to the welfare of the offender or the accused person and scant regard to the victim of crime. This has placed the victim of crime in disadvantageous party that has been forgotten in our criminal justice system. It is a trite law in Nigeria that justice is three way traffic; justice for the accused person, justice for the victim of crime and justice for the society. The pertinent question is, to what extent justice for the victim of crime has actually touched the life of the victim to reposition him into his previous state?
It is against this background, the underlying principle in the promotion of crime victims‟ Right is to ensure that they are assisted in recovering from the trauma of criminal violations. The salient question to be answered is whether there is a legal framework for a procedure in existence that ensure that a victim of crime in Nigeria obtains adequate compensation where he suffers harm, injured, destroyed as a result of the criminal behaviour of another person, as obtainable in America, Britain or in line with international best practices.
The Criminal Justice Act 2015 as well as other criminal legislation provide for cost, compensation and restitution to be made to the victim of crime as a way of solving problems created by criminal activities. These provisions make mockery of the whole system as a value contained in them remains totally unrealistic in our present day society. Moreover, these provisions are merely discretionary and subject to order of court. In the absence of these orders, a victim cannot avail himself of these provisions. It is the victim that feels outraged, humiliated, oppressed and deprived. Hence, this paper intends to examine the current administration of criminal justice in Nigeria, whether the plight of victim of crime is adequately compensated or the restitution order satisfactory. Are there other options for these victims to alleviate their problems as monetary compensation may not be the only solution? The paper further examine the international standard regarding the victim of crime such as United Kingdom whose criminal justice has been a model for Nigeria, with a view to arriving at possible suggestion that will help Nigeria situation