THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC LOCKDOWN ON CRIME RATE AMONG THE YOUTHS IN NIGERIA
Background to the study
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). These viruses were originally transmitted from animals to people. SARS, for instance, was transmitted from civet cats to humans while MERS moved to humans from a type of camel. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans. The name coronavirus comes from the Latin word corona, meaning crown or halo. Under an electron microscope, the looks like it is surrounded by a solar corona. The novel coronavirus, identified by Chinese authorities on January 7 and since named SARS-CoV-2, is a new strain that had not been previously identified in humans. Little is known about it, although human-to-human transmission has been confirmed.
The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 is unquestionably one of the most significant world-wide events in recent history, impacting culture, government operations, crime, economics, politics, and social interactions for the foreseeable future. One unique aspect of this crisis is the governmental response of issuing legal stay-at-home orders to attempt to slow the spread of the virus. While these orders varied, both in degree and timing, between countries and states, they generally began with strong encouragement for persons to isolate themselves voluntarily. As the magnitude of the crisis grew, governments began legally mandating persons to stay-at-home to reduce the transmission rate of the virus. There were, of course, exceptions; workers who were deemed ‘essential,’ such as those in the fields of medicine, finance, public safety, food production, transportation, and in other miscellaneous industries did not have to abide by these orders to the degree to which the general public did. Nevertheless, practically overnight, the entire country ceased or significantly reduced day-to-day travels, eliminating commutes from home to work, as well as leisure activities, shopping trips, social gatherings, the ability to dine out, and more.
The effect of Covid-19 lock down have adverse effects on crime rate among youths in Nigeria.
In contemporary society, youth criminal behaviour has brought weight of burden, agony and losses incurred by innocent people, society and nation at large. As a result, government both at local, national and international level is making immense efforts through the security agencies to curb the menace (youth criminality). However, in Nigeria, instead of taming the menace, the dimensions of youth criminality keep on increasing day-in and day-out. More often than not, youths (literates and illiterates) are apprehends for one offence or the other almost every day.
On the complexity of criminality in Nigeria, Attoh (2012) reported that in less than a decade the statistic of murder in Nigeria increased by over 75 percent. The figure which stands at 1,629 in 1994 rose to 2,120 in 2001 and 2,136 in 2003 (CLEEN Foundation, 2007 cited in Attoh 2012). Likewise, the incidences of armed robbery boost above 52 percent from 2,044 in 1994 to 3,889 in 2002 (Attoh, 2012). To reveal the extent of crime in Nigerian urban cities, she further shows that in 2002, there were 52 reported cases of armed robbery in Abia State; but it rose to 176 in 2004. Similarly, in Edo State, there were 71 reported cases of armed robbery in 2002; however the number increased to 144 in 2005 and 163 in 2006. Furthermore, a total of 12,837 criminal cases and arrested 14,996 suspects were recorded in Lagos State in 2008 (Attoh, 2012).
Crime situation in Nigeria is more intense in urban centers than rural areas due to high level of urban poverty, congestion, unemployment, cost of living, disorganization and moral decadence confronting urban system (see Adebayo 2013; Ahmed 2012; Okafor 2011; Agboola 2009). The preponderance of urban crimes in Nigeria is a reflection of deprivation, marginalization and breakdown in infrastructure and amenities that are suppose to manage or control crime among urban residents. Subsequently, Ajaegbu (2012) noted that the growing gap between the rich and poor affects the society through increased violence in Nigeria. Furthermore, studies conducted by Adebayo (2013) and Ajufo (2013) revealed that youth unemployment contribute to a large extent on youth involvement crime. This is because an unemployed youth can be frustrated and as a result engage in immoral acts or crime which can threatens the socioeconomic peace and stability of any particular society. In similar view, Olutayo and Okunola (1998) noted that the breakdown of the extended family structure in which individuals or members of a community were communally parented largely contribute to occurrence of youth crime. More so, Akwara, Akwara, Enwuchola, Adekunle and Udaw (2013) revealed that poverty is a condition that force majority of youths into criminal activities such as stealing, kidnapping, vandalism, armed robbery, assassination, political thugs and militancy.
Youths are energetic, creative, vibrant and articulate individuals between ages of 12-35 years in whose hands lay the expectation of the future of every society (Waswa 2002). Unfortunately, when the hands of youth are not actively engaged for the progress of the society they are likely to be use as devil workshop that is, they may involve in criminal acts. This may be seen from Nigerian situation where there has been upward slope of unemployment rate that increased from 15% in 2008 to 19.7% in 2009, 21.1% in 2010 and 23.9% in 2011and is projected to hit 25% by the end of 2012 (USA Embassy in Nigeria, 2012; National Bureau of Statistics, 2012). Important to note here is that youth constitute the larger proportion of the unemployed workforce (Lamido 2013). Explicitly, Akanda and Okuwa (2009) between 40-60% of those unemployed in Nigeria are aged between 15-25 years while Rotimi (2011) puts the ages between 18 and 45 years. To this end, youths have had the highest unemployment rate in Nigeria.
This phenomenon significantly influence youths involvement in crime as nearly all of those paraded by the law enforcement agencies before the mass media in the country as members of criminal groups fall within this age youthful bracket (Akwara, et. al, 2013). Likewise majority of those used in suicide bombings by terrorist groups in the country also fall within this age group. And most of those involved in insurgency are also of this age group (Solaja and Atere, 2015). To this effect, it is not gain saying the fact that the growing trend and patterns of youth criminality in Nigeria most especially in urban centers call for urgent attention to address.
It is against this background that the study seeks to investigate the Impact Of Covid-19 Pandemic Lockdown On Crime Rate Among The Youths In Nigeria
Statement of the Problem
In Nigeria, the Federal government announced the indefinite postponement of the 2020 West African Examination Council and the National Examinations Council (NECO) due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The situation is depressing. The statistics are scary and the consequences are severe. The numbers are unprecedented and the implications are enormous. Never before have so many children and youths been out of school at the same time. The consequences are better imagined.
Even before the current closure of schools, the world was already experiencing a global learning crisis, as many students, who, even while the school system was in full swing, were not learning the fundamental skills needed for life,(World Bank 2020).The closure of schools has now further compounded the situation with remarkable impacts on students, teachers, families and far-reaching economic and social consequences.
In many countries like Nigeria, poor children rely on the school feeding system for their only meal for the day. But with schools now forced to close, millions of children are missing out on these meals.
Many social vices are associated with youths not actively engaged in schooling. Children and youths who are not in school are more susceptible to social vices such as alcoholism, substance abuse and other forms of criminal activities. Early marriage and child labour are also some of the consequences of school closures.
In an attempt to positively engage the youths and also ensure that they are not left behind in their learning journey, many countries including Nigeria have adopted online teaching and learning, using radio, television and internet solutions to support access to education.
In order to provide another window for learning, UNESCO through its COVID-19 Education response, floated a platform tagged Learning Never Stops, to facilitate inclusive learning opportunities for children and youths during this period of sudden disruption in the school system
Objectives of the Study
The main objectives of this study is to examine the Impact Of Covid-19 Pandemic Lockdown On Crime Rate Among The Youths In Nigeria.
The following are the specific Objectives of the study;
- To critically investigate whether school lockdown due to Covid-19 can lead to heinous crime
- To examine whether the fallouts of economic opportunities, health and wellbeing of youths during Covid-19 can lead youth to crime
- To understand the relationship between Poverty and unemployment level occassion by COVID-19 on crime rate in Nigeria.
- To examine how Children and youth currently under some form of confinement are at higher risk of exploitations such as violence and abuse, including domestic violence.
- To examine whether the negative coping mechanisms such as alcohol, drug use, and self-harm can lead to crime
- To examine whether Lockdown may cause cyberbullying, and recruitment by terrorist and other criminal networks
The issue of deliberation is “Impact Of Covid-19 Pandemic Lockdown On Crime Rate Among The Youths In Nigeria.“.In look at this all encompassing topic certain addendum or follow up questions will be asked in order to fully explore the potentials of the study.
- Do school lockdown due to Covid-19 has any effects to crime rate among youths?
- Do fallouts of economic opportunities, health and wellbeing of youths during Covid-19 has any effects on youth crime rate measurements?
- Are there any relationship between Poverty and unemployment level occassion by COVID-19 on crime rate in Nigeria?
- How do Children and youth currently under some form of confinement riskexploitations such as violence and abuse, including domestic violence?
- Do the negative coping mechanisms such as alcohol, drug use, and self-harm can lead to crime?
- Do Lockdown as a result of Covid-19 leads to cyberbullying, and youths recruitment by terrorist and other criminal networks?
Significance of the Study
With the ever increasing pace of development, ccrime has become an inevitable and a more specialized area of crime which threatens the economy and even the peace and security of the nation. The publicity surrounding Nigeria cyber-crime is raising fears that the country may face a slowdown in international investment in telecommunication as well as the financial sectors (Thomas, 2011). As more Nigerians use the internet for their banking needs, the number of fraudsters eyeing people’s bank accounts and online financial transactions has also multiplied. Hence, this study has provided useful information on the factors responsible for the increase rate of cyber-crime in the society.
Unlike the advance societies, developing societies have almost little or no modalities put in place to curb the excesses of cyber-criminals. In order to out smart the cyber-crime fighting agencies, these cyber-criminals have connections with one another thereby learning more sophisticated methods/skills day in day out to commit this havoc. As such, the exposure of the techniques been
used by these cyber-criminals will contribute positively to the efforts being made by these agencies.
Moreover, since youths within the age bracket of 18-30 years (Zero Tolerance, 2006), have been identified to be most vulnerable to this crime and have also been identified to be either in tertiary institutions or about to be admitted into one or graduates. The research work was able to identify other attributes/characteristics of cyber-criminals. In addition, since cyber-crime is denting the country image among the committee of nations and the present administration has vowed to place Nigeria among the top twenty largest economies in the world by 2020. This research will contribute positively to the efforts being made by concerned government and private agencies to develop strategies to combat the menace
Scope and Limitations of the Study
This research work is aimed on Impact Of Covid-19 Pandemic Lockdown On Crime Rate Among The Youths In Nigeria.The study was limited to youths in Lagos state. Lagos was chosen because it is among the state with high prevalence of Covid-19 and crime rate. The researcher also made the choice of the case study to Lagos because of its proximity to the respondents.
Definitions of Terms
Virus: A virus is a small infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of an organism. Viruses can infect all types of life forms, from animals and plants to microorganisms, including bacteria and archaea
Pandemic: A pandemic is a disease epidemic that has spread across a large region, for instance multiple continents, or worldwide. A widespread endemic disease with a stable number of infected people is not a pandemic. Further, flu pandemics generally exclude recurrences of seasonal flu.
Epidemic: An epidemic is the rapid spread of disease to a large number of people in a given population within a short period of time. For example, in meningococcal infections, an attack. rate in excess of 15 cases per 100,000 people for two consecutive weeks is considered an epidemic
Computer: Computer is described as an electronic machine that works under the control of store information (programs). It accept data (input), store data in the memory and process the data to produce the required result in a specified format as information (output).
Crime: Crime is an act that violates the basic values and beliefs of society. Those values and beliefs are manifested as laws that the society agrees upon. It could also be referred to an act of committing an offence that is not in line with the laid down laws. Crime is a legal concept and has the sanction of the law (Williams in Dambazau et al 1996).
Cyber: Cyber is a prefix referring to anything related to computer or networking. The word as often used with a growing number of times to describe new things that are being made possible by the spread of computer. Cyber can be combined to make words such as cyber-crime, cyber-space and cyber-café.
Cyber crime: Refers to any criminal act dealing with computers and networks (called hacking). Additionally, cyber crime also includes traditional crimes conducted through the Internet.
Internet: Internet means international communication network. It is a communication network among computers. It is an interconnection of computers across globe.