BOOK TITLE: Victim of Crime and the Victim of Crime
AUTHORS: Enyeting, Patrick E., Mordi Jonathan (2020), Victim of Crime and The Criminal Justice System, Panaf Press, Abuja, Nigeria.
Victim of Crime and The Criminal Justice System provides an insight and perspective on the plights of the victims of crime, the impacts of crime in the society and the weaknesses of the criminal justice system. The book is an excellent resource to students, lawyers, police officers, judicial officers, prison officers, civil society and all lovers of justice. In reviewing this book, the principal criteria include content, organisation and reference sources. While editing errors could be noticed in some of the chapters, such shortcomings are only a minor distraction that will be alleviated in the later editions.
In this ambitious work, Patrick Enyeting and the Jonathan Mordi endeavour to establish the fact that the actual victim of crime is the individual who literally suffers the direct impacts of crime and the secondary victims who are the relations and family members of the primary victim, as against the state, which is an abstract entity that suffers no physical harm. The readers are taken through the world of criminal justice system as the work creates mental pictures in the minds of the reading audience on the working of the system, the interdependency of the system, it weaknesses, the lacunae which have been exploited by criminal enterprise to escape justice. The tone of the book reflects a learned appreciation for some interventions made in recent time to deliver justice to the primary victim of crime through the enactment of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act. The authors set the tone for each chapter with a quote, thus give the readers a brief picture of the content of the chapter at a glance.
About the authors, Patrick E. Enyeting, is retired police officer. He was an investigator as well as a prosecutor for many years. He was also an Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of human rights and alternative dispute resolution in the Police. In addition to various career postings and appointments, he was a member of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Right, a member of the Federal Government Delegation to the 61st Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Right, Banjul, The Gambia; member of the Committee on the Implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, as well as the member of the Presidential Committee on Prison Decongestion and Reform. His educational accomplishment includes B.A Communication Arts, LLB, BL and LLM. He is also member of various professional bodies such as NBA, Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK), as well as Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria. Similarly, Jonathan Mordi is an Assistant Commissioner of Police. He has been an investigator and has worked as Divisional Police Officer in several police stations across the country. He is currently the Commandant, Police Training School, Benin. His academic accomplishment includes BSC (Ed). He has attended various courses, conferences and seminars in course of his career. The Authors multifaceted backgrounds establishes them in a strategic position to gather and assemble key pieces of facts that span across the criminal justice chain.
The organisation of Victim of Crime and Criminal Justice System does not only allows the readers to easily navigate through the processes of criminal justice but also help them to understand the key actors and their roles. The book is divided into ten chapters. It opens with the concept of crime. It progresses through the rights of offenders, victim of crime, the criminal justice administration, the police and the criminal justice system, sentencing and punishment of offenders, correctional system, community policing, alternative dispute resolution in criminal jurisprudence, and terminated at criminal justice system in Nigeria: a critique. The appendices conclude with a listing of terms that add colour to the work. While it is difficult to explore all topics, the footnotes and bibliography provide sources for obtaining information.
The construction of the book weaves logically into its organisation, reflecting the interdependency of the criminal justice system. Each chapter is broken into different subunits which typically fits logically into the topic of the chapter. Each chapter is composed of several defining parts showing the logical transition of event from one stage to the other. Within each chapter are plethora of citations from case laws, periodicals, books, statutes and online publications, and in some cases, the authors cited their personal experiences which give the book a touch of nowness and contemporary happenings in the society. The book is well researched and well referenced interfaced with personal experience in the field.
The authors present a broad analysis of the trend in criminal justice system which is offender centred. Victim of crime and the criminal justice system view of the justice sector development shows wide disparity between the rights due to victims in the statute book and the rights the victim actually enjoyed in real sense. Victim of crime should be given equal attention that the law accords the perpetrator of crime. The book notes that, although crime occurs because individual creates opportunity for it, but state owes the citizens the obligation to ensure their safety and security. And failure of state to provide security makes citizens vulnerable, and the state liable to restore victim of crime to pre-victimization stage.
The second and the third chapters of book provide the important rallying points of discourse. The second chapter of the book focuses on the rights of the offenders under the municipal laws and various international instruments. The authors open the chapter with a quote “commoners carry a belief that the society has turned into a hell for law-abiding citizens, but heavenly pride to offenders”. Howbeit, the authors also recognise the fact that prisoners also suffer deprivation and custodial abuse. Similarly, the third chapter focuses on the victim of crime. The authors also open the chapter with a quote “victims should be treated with compassion and respect for their dignity. They are entitled to access to the mechanisms of justice and prompt redress, as provided for by national legislation, for the harm they have suffered”. The chapter provides the general overview of the plight of the victim of crime especially the poor who may not have the resources to finance justice. Some of the subunits in this chapters are victimization and the impacts, victim’s right to justice, victim of crime and access to justice, the challenges of access to justice, witness protection, criminal justice and social values, victims and dilemma of justice.
The authors take objective look at the need to humanize the criminal justice institutions and improve service delivery to the public. Some of the areas explored include police discretion, police emotional problems and the breach of ethical values, police human rights record, law enforcement and the due diligent principle, police and criminal mediation, socio-cultural factors and the problems of implementation of community policing, different perspective of community policing, dynamics of community policing. The authors also take a look at court duty to protect the society, philosophy of punishment, non-custodial sentence and community reintegration. One of the important highlights of the book is the emphasis on the reform of the correctional system by making vocational educational training and prisoners’ economic empowerment some of the crucial reformative policy of correctional system.