1.1 Background to the Study
From time immemorial, traditional African society has been a communal society where everybody live together, share things in common etc. From time also, African society has been characterized by various traditional institution such as Ekpo secret society, Mbiam (oath taking), Ukang (ordeal) etc. which were seen as instruments for administration of Justice, crime control and for detection of crimes in the African society. Crimes also were at lowest ebb or minimal rate because of this institution that were able to invoke laws and maintain sanity in the community.
There was nobody who committed crime allowed to go Scott free. This is because African society had various traditional institutions for the prevention and detection of crimes. According to Ekarika (2014), the various traditional institutions in some tribes, clans and communities have common similarities for example Ibibio and Annang tend to exhibit similar institutional values in regards to traditional institutions.
Some of this traditional institutions were also seen as instruments of Administration of justice. In this regard, Ukpong (2007; 125) observes that the Ekpe secret society for example made laws and executed them and laws passed by the civil authority became the law of the Ekpe secret society. Also an offender of the society became an offender of Ekpe. He further observes that the Ekpe could settle almost all cases except those of murder and witchcraft, but it could execute a condemned murderer by beheading or tying the person to stake and removing his/her lower jaw (Nsibidi Osio Enye Mban). He quickly adds that Ekpe in the time past was a symbol of good governance, equity and justice. The Ekpe was devoid of bribery of and corruption because its judgment was given without fear or favor.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The problem this study attempts to redress is to examine various traditional institutions for crime detection. The subject matter is crucial because some people, especially Christians in Abak believe that the traditional institutions such as Ekpo secret society, Ukang (ordeal), Mbiam (oath taking) etc. are no longer potent. Also, African society from onset has been known for “lived and let’s live”. In order words, morality, traditional values, cultural and custom were held in high esteem. Hence, manslaughter, stealing, adultery, fornication, murder, unwanted pregnancy, premarital sexual life among their related crimes were hardly heard of and prohibited. This was because various traditional institutions were set up to detect, prevent and guide the moral or code of conduct of the people.
However, in recent times, some of these traditional institutions have been gradually paralyzed by the modern force of change like the negative impacts the various traditional institution has on people. For example, Ekpo secret society which its primary role was governance and detection of crime has now turned to be an instrument of violence and atrocities and also involving in illegal activities. In these respect Nkeme (2014:32-33) notes that nowadays, Ekpo masquerades attack the Church by preventing Christian from attending morning prayers, evening devotion and other church services. He further observe that there was one such attack in which a seminarian from queen of Apostles seminary, Afaha Obong in Abak lost his eye when it was pierce by an arrow from a masquerade who was not better than the mask he was wearing. He adds that the Ekpo sometimes defile the Holy days (Sundays), who come out like an ordinary days with this wicked activities.
The unhealthy development has not only brought moral decadence to the society, but has also tarnished the good image of the various traditional institutions and hence many people no longer hold sway to the African traditional methodology for detection, prevention and control of crime and policing in governance.
However, it is worth knowing that there are still better sides of these traditional institutions as they are still effective and potent. Most Christians in Abak believe in the potency of Mbiam, Ukang and other traditional institution but still, would not involve themselves in anything pertaining to it.
Therefore, this study is set out to address the relevance of these traditional institutions for detection, prevention and control of crime in modern time. Also, this study is aimed at showing the place of potency and effectiveness of the various traditional institutions.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to examine the traditional institutions for crime detection. Also, subsidiary aim of this study is to:
a. Examine the relevance of these traditional institutions for crime detection.
b. Examine how these traditional institutions are administered.
c. Investigate the various traditional institutions for crime detection that are still potent in Afaha obong in Abak local government Area.
d. Examine the impacts of these traditional institutions for crime detection.
1.4 Significance of the study
It’s hope that the findings of this study if read by the people residing in Abak, most especially the indigenes of Afaha obong will help them understand the relevance of these traditional institutions. Also, it will help to minimize the idea that these traditional institutions are no longer potent or effective which is conceived by some Christians in Abak. It will also minimize the moral decadence of stealing, murder, committing adultery in the society and will also add to existing literature in Anthropology, societal and comparative study of religion.
1.5 Research Methodology
The methodology approaches adopted in this study are survey and simulation approaches. While survey method is an investigation of the opinions, perceptions behaviour etc. of a particular group of people on a certain matter, simulation method is an approach that allows for close observation of possibilities of data in a restricted environment forth purpose of drawing general conclusions about them.
On this note, this study interview through people’s opinion, perception, idea etc. about various traditional institution for crime detection within the environment of Afaha obong in Abak. Secondary sources such as textbooks, Oral interviews, journals, article even the Wikipedia were also consulted.
1.6 Scope of the study
This study examines various traditional institutions for crime detection. The main people in focus are the indigenes for proper findings. For this to be done, the research investigated family by family situation in Afaha obong, Abak Local Government Area for a better data collection.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
Ekpo: Ekpo is a secret society and is regarded as physical representative of the departed ancestors. It is as instrument of governance that is used for detection, prevention and control of crime.
Ukang: Ukang is one of the instruments of crime detection and control, usually employed to discover crimes and offenses which had earlier been committed. It is also used to compel criminals or offenders to accept the guilt which they had earlier denied.
Mbiam: This is usually in the form of oath-taking. It is very strict instrument of crime detection and control. It is capable of killing the culprit immediately at a stipulated period of the invocation
TRADITIONAL INSTITUTIONS FOR CRIME DETECTION AND CONTROL, A CASE STUDY OF AFAHA OBONG IN ABAK LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA, AKWAIBOM STATE, NIGERIA