Meaning of Robbery

Robbery is an aspect of crime, which involves taking or attempting to take something of value by force or threat of force or by putting the victim in fear. In Nigerian law, robbery is defined as taking the property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the person of that property, by means of force or fear. Precise definitions of the offence may vary between jurisdictions. Robbery differs from simple theft in its use of violence and intimidation.

From the legal dictionary, robbery is the direct taking of property (including money) from a person (victim) through force, threat or intimidation. Robbery is a felony (crime punishable by a term in state or federal prison). “Armed robbery” involves the use of gun or other weapon which can do bodily arm, such as a knife or club, and under most state laws carries a stiffer penalty (longer possible term) than robbery by merely taking. 2) a term improperly used to describe thefts, including burglary (breaking and entering) and shoplifting (secret theft from the stock of a store), expressed: “We’ve been robbed.”

From the business dictionary, it is Unlawful taking away of goods or property by force or intimidation, with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of those items. Robbery, and assault with intent to rob, are commonly punishable with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

The word “rob” came via French from Late Latin words (e.g. deraubare) of Germanic origin, from Common Germanic raub — “theft”.

Among the types of robbery is armed robbery involving use of a weapon and aggravated robbery involving use of a deadly weapon or something that appears to be a deadly weapon. Highway robbery or “mugging” takes place outside and in a public place such as a sidewalk, street, or parking lot. Carjacking is the act of stealing a car from a victim by force. Extortion is the threat to do something illegal, or the offer to not do something illegal, in the event that goods are not given, primarily using words instead of actions.

From what is happening around the world today, crime and criminal activities appear to be permanent features of our modern society. Although, crime has been with mankind from creation, there are increasing categories of criminal deeds that are really baffling, senseless, often shocking and vicious. Ever since Cain killed Abel his younger brother in a classic case of homicide in the Garden of Eden, the world has not known peace and has being oscillating from one horrendous crime to another. The task of protection continues to be increasingly complex one at a time when technology is creating new products at explosive rate. A criminal does not need to have developed the systems of thinking that built the technology in other to use it against humanity (victims). A notable Historian, Professor High Thomas once said “The spread of knowledge and education had taught mankind little in the way of self control, and less in the act of living peacefully with other men.” Security problems remain universal phenomena and continue to take frightening dimension. Security weakness in itself could be provocative.


For many years, man has been pre-occupied with the arduous task of finding the most effective means of countering the menace of crime and criminals. Security implies a stable, relatively predictable environment in which an individual or group may pursue legitimate ends without obstruction or harm and without fear of disturbance or injury. Crime and criminal activities originated from the desire of human to greedily with long throat acquire or enjoy opportunities that are not theirs. After all, it is often said that behind every great fortune, there is invariably a crime. Like an Israeli proverb says; “one cannot be rich without making some little compromises with honesty”. The pervasive nature of crime and its evil effect on humanity might have been responsible for the issuance of Ten Commandments by the Divine as ordinances to be obeyed by man for peaceful co-existence.

Crime is that human behavior condemned by the society which prescribes reward and punishment as the case may be to show the total abhorrence of crime in any society. Crime is described as an action committed in violation of the law that prohibits it and authorizes punishment for its commission. It is noteworthy that crime is condemned in all human societies by ancient traditions, formal laws and normal sentiments. The person who frequently commits the most serious crimes typically began their criminal careers at young ages. Predatory street crimes are most commonly committed by the youths who are said to belong to pressure groups. According to a study by Josephson Institute for Advancement of Ethics in the USA, “unprecedented proportion of today’s youths (if not adults in Nigeria). Lack commitment to core moral values like honesty, integrity, commitment, personal responsibility, respect for others and civil duties”

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This paper derives largely from my personal experience while serving an unjust and undeserved prison term in Minna prison, aftermath of a phantom coup plot saga foisted on some distinguished Nigerians by the reprobate regime of the late Gen. Sanni Abacha from 1995-1999. Dumped in the midst of hardened criminals for years gave me the rare opportunity to interact with so many criminals and some innocent ones under incarceration. This afforded me the opportunity to understand their mind sets and studied their ways of lives. I also applied native intelligence, research, thought spinning and tutorial mentions.

The Rate of Robbery In Nigeria, Causes and Effect

In recent years Nigeria has witnessed an increase in rate of robbery like never before in its 53 years of existence as a country, more worrying is the nature of robbery which most are foreign to its past history. Among these trending robbery activities human kidnapping for a ransom and terrorism top the chart, it has became so rampant that major crimes of past years like armed robbery and human assassination has being swept to the background even though the government is yet to finding a lasting solution to all of these menace, it has concentrated its effort on terrorism and kidnapping whereas the reason is not farfetched because of the international tan on the image of the country.

Robbery has become so rampant that people no longer condemn it outright but they try to justify if the victim involved is suppose to be robbed or not. This evil came to lime light when the people of the Niger-Delta region took up arms to enforce the development of their region among other demands, this gave raise to militancy which resulted in blowing up of pipe lines and crude oil companies’ equipments eventually leading to kidnapping and robbing of workers of these companies, most were foreign personals. All of these were to draw attention to the plight of the region which existed in abject poverty amid the many evil of oil drilling like polluted water and destroyed farm land. The government eventually dealt with the militancy issue and they surrendered their arms this was possible via the amnesty program engineered by the then president late Alh. Umaru Yar’dua and completed by the present President Mr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

Peace returned but kidnapping and robbery stayed slowly expanding to other regions becoming more rampant in the Eastern region of the country.


From the look of things it appears arm robbery remains one of the biggest businesses in Nigeria today and violent attack among young people had risen to unprecedented level. The inability of the appropriate authority to arrest and bring robbers to justice is added incentive to crime perpetration in the country. The corresponding advancement in telecommunication technology which makes contact between criminals easier has added fillip to individual and collective insecurity. The new generation armed robbers have proven to be more daring; blood thirstier, deadlier and even better equipped to practice this evil vocation. Everybody now appears to be potential victim; every organization is a potential target. We live daily with the menace of enemy without name or identification and danger without postal address or reference. Robbery will therefore, continue to increase in the society due to some of the following reasons:

  • Community laws / Norms appear favourable to robbery and its  perpetrators and condonation
  • Availability of guns / lethal weapons and easy access to drugs by miscreants, street urchins and men of the underworld. According to media reports, large consignment of arms and ammunition are been smuggled into the country regularly.
  • The inherent disorganization of our communities and break down of family values brought about no doubt by the parlous and deplorable state of the nation’s economy
  • Recourse to individualism and self-conceitedness of the extractive elites making us no longer to be our brother’s keepers
  • Lack of co-operation with the law enforcement agencies by the public (even victims) as far as sourcing for information is concerned
  • Media over publication and dramatization of robbery in the society, (though correct) without corresponding exposition of deterrent actions taken by the appropriate authorities
  • Extreme economic deprivation causing blistering state of unemployment in the country
  • Life styles of many people with dubious pedigrees around us
  • Lack of appropriate training, equipment, logistic support, welfare and motivation for the security agencies to confront the increasing wave of robbery
  • Lack of necessary liaison and inter connectivity among the diverse agencies charged with the responsibility of crime control. There is always, what I can call supremacy tussle, and service jealousy
  • Lack of mutual cooperation and understanding for enhancement of better performance. No sharing of security information or protection of source
  • Lack of adequate and timely compensation for injuries or fatalities sustained in the course of fighting robbery
  • Unresolved conflicts and problems in the society, government and business organizations. There are so many ‘cold’ case files gathering dusts on the police shelf
  • Everyone pays lip service to security issues and it appears we are not security conscious enough.
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Armed robbery is a worldwide phenomenon. It is neither peculiar to Nigeria nor confined to any country in particular. The gravity may be different from one country to another or one city to another. In some countries their major problem is countering terrorism while others contend with separatists’ movement, political gangsterism and armed militancy. We are in a world where crime has no frontier. In Nigeria, to some people armed robbery is no big deal! The only problem is the fatality involved in armed robbery attacks. After all it is a common knowledge that banks lose more money each year to employees’ theft than to robbery committed by strangers just as Retail Outlets / Marts lose more to employees’ theft than to shop lifters. In Nigeria, armed robbery reared its ugly head visibly as a consequence of Nigerians civil war which ended in 1970. Since then armed robbery has being growing at very embarrassing rate. It neither spares ecclesiastical locations, foreigners, traditional houses, hallowed chambers of courts, shrines, grave yards, hospitals, and even police stations are not exempted. The government’s response to this ugly situation was the enactment of severe and drastic legislations which prescribed death penalty by firing squad and at least life imprisonment for offenders. However, despite the harshness and severity of the punishment the menace is yet to reduce or abate. These robberies are common in big cities and urban centers.

Armed robbers appear to have surreptitiously moved the nation closer to what could be described as hobessian state where life could be short, nasty and brutish. The courage and tenacity often exhibited by armed robbers are baffling. They move around freely in thickly populated residential and commercial areas sometimes numbering up to fifty leaving deaths, rape, sorrow, tears and blood on their trail. It appears we are been held hostage in this nation by a generation of angry and frustrated youths who are prepared to take their pound of flesh from the Nigerian society. It is note worthy that an individual motivated to commit robbery uses skills learnt from experience and the environments to locate victims and targets.

As at date, the banking sector is seriously imperil by the menace of armed bandits. The banks should use trained security personnel, specialized equipment and customized procedures to reduce, degrade and eliminate risks or loss of banks assets tangible and intangible. I expect the banks to evolve direct control of surveillance activities, internal intelligence gathering system and access control within the banking system. Each bank should put in place intricate web of security network and control centralized for maximum security effectiveness. Each bank in Nigeria appears to be left to its own initiative. The bank also fails to try collective security system especially those that are contiguously located. And with banks that have little in-depth knowledge of the character traits and background of most of their workers, the vulnerability of the banking industry becomes a real issue.


Let no one have the illusion that the war against crime especially armed robbery will be a walkover in any society especially in Nigeria. With the collapse of core virtues, morals, breakdown of family values, the harsh economy situation prevailing in our own part of the world and plenty of guns let loose in the hands of mad men prowling around, we are in for a long drawn battle. Do we just fold our arms? Of course not and here are some of the actions that organizations and concerned stake holders can carry out.

  • Carry out risk assessment to decide on the threat you might face and their likelihood. That is, you must identify your vulnerability
  • Make security awareness part of your organization’s culture and ensure security is represented at the senior level of your organization
  • Ensure good basic security housekeeping throughout your organization. Keep public areas tidy and well lit, remove unnecessary furniture or anything that might aid climbing like ladder from your premises
  • Keep access point to the minimum and install appropriate physical security measures such as locks, alarms, CCTV surveillance and proper lightening
  • When acquiring or extending your premises, consider security at the planning stage
  • When recruiting staff or hiring contractors, check their identities and follow up the references they supply
  • Plan and test your business continuity plan ensuring that you can continue to function without access to your main premises and information technology system
  • Maintain a culture of honesty and integrity in your organization to give the staff a proper sense of belonging
  • Take into account your neighbor’s plans and those of the emergency services, particularly if you are in a multi-occupancy premises
  • There must be counter-surveillance operation which must be an ongoing process by which one puts oneself in the frame of mind of the would be attacker.
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If after taken necessary precautionary measures, you come under attack from the armed robbers, following are the suggested actions to take to minimize risk to life and property:

  • Obey their instructions to avoid fatalities, do not play the hero.
  • Never assist them to collect their loots and stolen items
  • Never argue with a man with a gun. You might be dealing with a psychotic
  • Remember you will always outnumber the attackers, some can run inside, others can run inside the toilet and from there alert the police
  • Security guards located outside the premises must raise alarm as a matter of drill to attract attention
  • There must be proper liaison between contiguous establishment / organizations
  • There must be an alarm system in place that must be triggered off immediately the robbers strike
  • Those in appropriate position must know the emergency numbers of the police stations within the vicinity and the calls must be duplicated
  • Calls could be placed also to friends and known people to inform the police about the emergency situation
  • There must be subtle/stilt observations of the attackers for later identification.


Armed robbery is one ugly social vice which is believed to exist in all countries of the world. However, it seems that the menace is rampant in developing and underdeveloped nations of the world.

Nigeria has about 140 million people. The population is made up of a good number of the healthy working population. This working population is mainly young people who are skilled labor, semi-skilled labor, or unskilled labor. Most of these young people leave school without being employed for years.

They are not unemployed because they can’t work but simply because there are no job opportunities where they can fit in themselves. Some of them roam the streets in search of menial jobs in order to make both ends meet while the lazy ones or those that felt that the society is not happy with them becomes angry and turn to armed robbery among other social vices too numerous to mention.

The government established the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) and charged the men in black with the responsibility of checking armed robbery and other crimes in the society. But it seems the spate of armed robbery in the country is increasing exponentially by the day. Does is it mean that the Police Force are not doing enough?

The problem is that the police are not yet well equipped to tackle the menace. In addition, there are many bad eggs in the police force that go as far as collaborating with the armed robbers. The government should ensure that those recruited into the force are people of good reputation. The government should adequately equip and fund the police force.

The bad eggs that are already in the police force should be detected and flushed out. The police force should go on training tour from time to time.


Crime perpetration especially armed robbery will continue to be with us as long as the reasons for its prevalence remain germane. The methods employed by armed robbers vary from place to place and beats people’s imagination daily. Sometimes, they come bare-faced while at other times they are hooded. They play their notorious game employing terror, deceit, force and threat in order to achieve surprise and total success. It is therefore, not surprising that each operation brings out new dimension to their game plan. Sometimes, they even wear military or police uniform to achieve their aim. The period of the attack could be anytime but it is predominantly in the hours of darkness. It is to be emphasized that day time robbery is also as brutal as night time. It is necessary that all understand and accept the need for security measures. Security should be seen as a common responsibility of all and not regarded as something for the security professionals only. Of course, security and safety are of the Lord, the horse, says the Holy Bible is prepared for the day of battle, but safety is of the Lord.


Chijioke, E. (2007, January 26). How to Tackle Armed Robbery in Nigeria. Retrieved January 30, 2013, from­to-­Tackle-­Armed-­Robbery-­in-­Nigeria&id=432150

Igbaji U. C (2013). Robbery as a social problem in Nigeria. Retrieved January 30, 2013, from


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