As the society is dynamically changing and evolving, so is criminal behavior constantly evolving, taking new forms and patterns, and changing in response to a variety of factors, including new technologies, social conditions, and economic circumstances. In the Calabar metropolis, the rise of new technologies like the internet and social media have led to the emergence of new forms of fraud and cybercrime.
Additionally, Calabar has experienced an increase in crimes related to socio-economic hardship, such as theft and burglary, armed-robbery, kidnapping and ritual killing.1 The recent rise in crime rate within the Calabar Metropolis,, is worrisome and calls for the attention and apt intervention of the law enforcement authorities.
This work shall thus, x-ray, analyze and succinctly discuss the emerging trends in criminal behavior within the Calabar metropolis, suggesting how the State Security architecture can be rejig, reformed and improved to contend the worrisome situation.
This work only covers and embraces two (2) of the 18 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Cross River State which make up the Calabar Metropolis, namely, Calabar South and Calabar Municipality Local Government Areas in Cross River State of Nigeria, two localities which have experienced incidences of criminal activities over the years due to unprecedented population growth, rural-urban migration and urbanization.
Oxford English Dictionary defines crime simply as: ‘An action or omission which constitutes an offense and is punishable by law’.
Oxford Dictionary of Sociology defines crime in a more complex way as: ‘an offense which goes beyond the personal into the public sphere, breaking prohibitory rules or laws, to which legitimate punishments or sanctions are attached, and which requires the intervention of a public authority.2
Criminal behavior can be defined and considered as a deviant behavior that goes into the public sphere, breaking prohibitory rules or laws and constituting an offense punishable by law, and which requires the intervention of a public authority.
Emerging trends in criminal behavior within the Calabar Metropolis refer to the new or developing patterns of crime that are being observed in Calabar metropolis.
Thus work will exhaustively discuss these new and developing patterns of crime (in Calabar), elucidating on how the security architecture could be improved to address these trends and patterns.
Emerging Trends in Criminal Behavior in Calabar Metropolis:
Outlined below are three notable emerging trends in criminal behavior particularly within the Calabar Metropolis;
- Yahoo Yahoo (cybercrime)
- Alleged Manhood theft
- Kidnapping/Abduction through Hook-up
- Yahoo Yahoo (cybercrime)
As technology advances, so does cybercrime. The forms of cybercrime have evolved to take new shapes and forms in urban areas like Calabar. The days of elementary 419 are over, as scammers today engage in high-tech online fraud, phishing, hacking, cyberstalking, identity theft/impersonation, and pharming which is the redirecting of users to fraudulent websites, often to steal login credentials or personal information. Some have even gone further, mixing technology, juju and ritual, to get what is now known as Yahoo-Plus.
This new pattern of criminal behavior is dominant among teenagers and youths in Calabar, especially among those with ‘get-rich quick syndrome’. Those involved in this criminal behavior are commonly known with the sobriquet “yahoo boys”. The forms of ‘yahoo yahoo’ as earlier mentioned shall be briefly discussed below;
- Impersonation: This is an act of pretending to be another person for the purpose of fraud. It’s usually done by ‘yahoo boys’ using fictitious social media accounts to deceive unsuspecting victims.
- On Thursday, December 12, 2019, Justice Saleh Shuaibu of the Federal High Court, Calabar, Cross River State, jailed five cyber criminals, known as ‘Yahoo Boys’ for impersonation and online fraud. Emmanuel, one of the convicts, got six months sentence or option of N100,000 fine for obtaining property by false pretense using a fictitious Instagram account3 (FrankHO77) and presenting himself as Frank Hoffman, a United States of America citizen.
- Identity Theft: This is the fraudulent practice of stealing people’s personal information and using it to obtain credit, loans, make purchases and commit other fraud. Recently, scammers have learnt to steal phones and use only the phone number and account number of the phone owners to illegally withdraw money from their bank account.
- Last December (2022), a lecturer (known as Dr. Jude) in Faculty of Education, University of Calabar had the same sour experience in Calabar and lost a whopping 100,000 naira.
- Phishing: This is the fraudulent practice of sending emails or other messages and links purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. Yahoo boys use phishing links and mails to scam people and and steal their passwords and vital information inorder to hack their accounts and gain undue advantage over them.
Below are some practical illustrations of the emerging criminal trend of Yahoo Yahoo in Calabar;
- On 5th October , 2022, three Yahoo boys in Calabar known as Chinaemerem, Akpan, and Ngaji were convicted by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court sitting in Calabar.4
- Operatives of the Uyo Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, arrested four internet fraudsters in Calabar, Cross River State, following two separate raids carried out in the early hours of Saturday, May 4, 2019 and Sunday, May 5, 2019.5
- Alleged Manhood Theft
In Calabar Metropolis, there’s a rumored criminal trend of Manhood theft by some Male ‘Private Part Thieves’. This bizarre criminal trend has created and caused fear in the hearts and minds of people in Calabar, especially among the Males who no longer walk freely but are very conscious of their genital organs so it won’t ‘disappear’ mysteriously. It is rumored and alleged that with a touch or with handshake by the private part theives, the genital organ mysteriously disappears.
Most recently, about 7 days ago (17th September), there was an incident of a naval officer stationed at the Nigerian Navy Barracks, Akim, being a victim of the bizarre crime wave of mysterious penis theft and disappearance.6
However, the Cross River State Government has debunked the rumors of missing male genitalia in the Calabar Metropolis as untrue and false.7
2. Kidnapping/Abduction through Hook-up
Kidnapping has taken a new form through social media “hook-ups.” Hook-up means meeting someone new and proceeding to having sexual intercourse without any intention of keeping a relationship type commitments. Ritualists and kidnappers use these encounters to abduct and exploit victims, primarily targeting young individuals. Cases of people going missing after meeting online acquaintances have been reported
On April 27, 2022, it was reported that Two people went missing after visiting their online girlfriend in Calabar.8
Rejigging the Security Architecture To Contend the Situation:
To address these emerging criminal trends in Calabar, several strategies are recommended to rejig and improve the security architecture within the state. They are outlined as follows;
- Technology Integration: First and foremost, it’s important to invest in new technologies that can be used to combat emerging forms of crime. Investing in modern technology for surveillance and crime analysis, including the use of CCTV cameras, biometric technology, computer systems,, and data analytics would make a big difference in the police force’s ability to communicate effectively and can help to deter and investigate cybercrime and identity theft. It could also improve their ability to gather and analyze data, which could help them to identify the crime trends and allocate resources more efficiently.
- Proper Recruitment and Training of Police Officers: The Police force should employ better recruitment strategies to attract more qualified candidates. The Force should as well organize improved training programs for existing officers. A well-trained, well-equipped, and well-managed police force can do a lot to deter crime and make people feel safe in their homes and communities
- Community Policing: Implement community policing strategies to foster better relationships between law enforcement and the community. This can improve intelligence gathering and trust and help the security agencies nab those perpetrating criminal activities like ‘yahoo.’
- Adequate funding and Equipping of Police Officers will improve their ability combat this emerging trends in criminal behavior in Calabar.
- Increased Police Presence: Deploying more police officers to hotspots and crime-prone areas to deter criminal activity and respond faster to incidents will help contend the situation.
- Youth Engagement Programs: Developing programs that engage youth in positive activities like sports, education, and vocational training to divert them from fraud and other criminal activities. Rehabilitation programs should also be established for offenders to be reintegrated into society.
- Education and Awareness: Raise public awareness about the consequences of criminal behavior and the importance of reporting crimes promptly, and also educating the public about the risks of these new forms of crime and how to protect oneself. Security agencies debunking false rumors about crime will help improve the safety of the public and the security architecture in the state.
- Interagency Cooperation: Enhanced cooperation between law enforcement agencies, and the judiciary would also help to improve the overall security architecture.
Conclusively, the evolving nature of criminal behavior in Calabar necessitates a proactive and multifaceted approach from law enforcement agencies and authorities. As society continues to change, adapting to new technologies and socio-economic challenges, the security architecture should and must evolve as well.
By implementing the above measures and strategies, Calabar can adapt to the changing landscape of criminal behavior and rejig its security architecture. enhancing its ability to combat cybercrime, prevent unusual and unfounded fears like manhood theft, and protect its citizens from the evolving threats of kidnapping and abduction through hook-ups.
1.. Ngele, Emmanuel, P. (Ph. D), Okom, Emmanuel, N. (Ph. D), J Igwe-Okomiso (Ph. D) & Iteh, John Augustine, (2023) – Youth Unemployment and Increasing Crime Rate: A Study of Calabar Metropolis in Cross River State, Nigeria.
- The Scottish Center for Crime and Justice Research – What is Crime? Retrieved from http://www.sccjr.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/SCCJR-What-is-crime.pdf
- thestar.ng https://www.thestar.ng/5-yahoo-boys-jailed-in-calabar-uyo-for-fraud/amp/
- Daily Post Nigeria https://dailypost.ng/2019/05/06/efcc-arrests-yahoo-boys-kingpins-others-calabar-seizes-cars-property-photos/?amp=1
- Anaedo Online: https://www.anaedoonline.ng/2023/09/18/bizarre-incidents-of-penis-theft-continue-in-calabar-nigerian-navy-officer-falls-victim/
- TheCable. https://www.thecable.ng/extra-go-about-without-fear-cross-river-debunks-male-genital-theft-rumours-in-calabar/amp
8.. Nairaland Forum. https://www.nairaland.com/7097929/two-missing-after-visiting-online/3