A man’s life is obviously his most cherished property and the most basic of all fundamental human rights. Nobody has the right to ham or even take away another person’s life except as a last resort another in self-defense.
A renowned English advocationist, Henry Thomas Buckee (1893) once said that the society prepares the crime while the criminal commits it.
Richard Under (1902) also said that all human beings are criminals but the difference is the degree. Whichever way we see that, it must be noted that crime is as old as the society itself, and no country, whether advanced or not can absolve itself of crime and also that we do not get involved in crimes of violence does not mean that we are not affected by them.
Since human being are dynamic in nature, it is worthy of note that punishment to a crime can also change since crimes do change from time to time. Under decree number 20 of 1984, at least eleven offences carried death penalty. These are arson, tampering with oil pipelines, import or export of mineral oil, one with intention of defrauding the Federal Military Government, dealing in cocaine, dealing in petroleum products, treason, Kidnapping, Lynching and possession of arms and ammunition. (News watch magazine Jan 20.1986). But today, events have overtaken these decree. It was consequently withdrawn and more suitable ones promulgated to suit the sophistication of commission of crimes, question and because of this varied nature of crimes, the relevant question bother on how to determine the punishment that commensurate with the crimes, since both our more conscience and social justice should also come into play here.
Hence, one wishes to define crime as an act committed in violation of a law prohibiting it or committed in violation of a law ordering it, which are variously punishable by death, impoundment, or imposition of fine or restrictions.
In Enugu State today, the rate at which cases of crimes are being reported needs to be given an urgent attention. We hear over the radio, in news papers and televisions, of various cases of house being burgled, cars being snatched at gun points, houses being burnt, properties being destroyed, people being massacred etc. Some of the things that come to mind are: what are the factors responsible for these atrocities, and how can we reduce the rate at which these crimes are being committed?
CLASSIFICATION OF CRIMES
We can’t arrive at a conclusion without classifying crime into its various groups.
Crime is classified into three:
Felony: This is an offence on conviction for which a person can, without proof of his having been previously convicted of an offence, be sentenced to death or to imprisonment for three years or more.
Some of the felonious crimes and the punishment for the offenders are:
Burglary: This is a crime of breaking into a house with intent to commit theft or other felony. The punishment for the offender is life imprisonment. Burglary is house breaking that is committed between 6.00 p.m and 6.00 a.m. On the other hand, if the offence is committed in the day time, the punishment for the offender is imprisonment for a period of fourteen (14) years.
Murder: The unlawful and malicious or premeditated killing of one human being by another is known as murder. A person who commits the offence of murder is liable to death.
Manslaughter: This is the unlawful killing of human being with malice, expressed or implied. The punishment for the offender is imprisonment for life, or fourteen (14) years.
Arson: This is the crime of purposely setting fire to another’s building or property, or to one’s own property so as to collect insurance. A person who commits this offence is liable to between seven years and life imprisonment depending on the property in question.
Slave Dealing: This is one who deals on trade in purchase, sales, transfer, or takes any person in order or so that such a person should be held or treated as a slave. The offender is liable to fourteen years imprisonment.
ii. Misdemeanor: This is an offence declared to be such or punishable by imprisonment for not less than six months but less than three years.
Example: Assault, Kidnapping.
Assault: Assault is an unlawful threat to harm a person physically or an unsuccessful attempt to do so. A person who commits the offence is liable to between six months to less than three years imprisonment depending on how great the assault is. This crime is a common one here is Enugu, because of the fact that it is an educational State. Any person who commits the offence of rape is liable to imprisonment with or without whipping.
Kidnapping: This is the act of forcibly abducting human being. The punishment to the offence is two years imprisonment.
Suicide: This is the act of self destruction by a person sound in mind and capable of measuring his moral responsibility. The punishment is one-year imprisonment for the offender.
Simple Offence: This is an offence which is neither a felony nor a misdemeanor. A simple offence is one which on conviction attracts an imprisonment term of less than six months. If an offence is a simple offence, the court must grant the offender bail as a matter of right as well as both misdemeanors.
CAUSES OF CRIMES
There are about one thousand and one causes of crimes in Enugu State, but due to time factor and space, only few will be treated in this project. They are:
Unemployment: “An idle mind is the workshop of the devil.” A person without a job finds it very difficult to survive especially in Enugu where the standard of living is deteriorating daily. With the high rate of unemployment and inflation in the Country Enugu State as a case study is also faced with the same problem, therefore, many people find little or no alternative than to commit crimes like armed robbery, stealing, burglary etc, for their survival.
Ostentation: This factor contributes tremendously to increasing rate of crime in Enugu State today Despite the economic problem, you find all sort of wealth, latest brands of cars, mighty built dings, people wasting money on parties etc. Those things are done by a few group of people and the unfortunate ones therefore feel jealous and influenced and as such they resort to committing all sorts of crimes in order to be rich as well.
Hardship: Due to the present economic situation in Enugu State, most of the employed person cannot afford two square meal per day. As a result, some of them feel that the only way open to them is to commit crime, so that they too can live up to expectation.