Criminology Project Topics

Female Criminality and Delinquency in Nigeria

Female Criminality and Delinquency in Nigeria

Female Criminality and Delinquency in Nigeria

Chapter One 

Objectives of the study

This research work focuses on female involvement in criminality and delinquency in Nigeria pre-colonial time till date and what factors have influenced criminality among the women. It also systematically examines the factors and the problems they portend for the Nigerian nation and by extension to the nascent democracy.

However, the study will be specifically aimed:

  1. To describe the extent and type of female involvement in crimes and analyze the types of crimes in which women have been most visible;
  2. To determine the socio-economic attributes of women in crime. And finally identify factors predisposing women to criminality.



 Concept and meaning of criminality


The word “personality” originates from the Latin persona, which means mask. It is often referred to as a multidimensional concept, involving patterns that influence behavior, thought, motivation, and emotion in a human being. It references a dynamic and organized set of characteristics possessed by a person that uniquely influences his/her environment, cognitions, emotions, motivations, and other aspects of behaviour in various situations. Personality also captures the combination of behavior, emotion, motivation, and thought patterns that define an individual. According to Engler, (2009), personality refers to the pattern of thoughts, feelings, social adjustments, and behaviors consistently exhibited over time that strongly influences one’s expectations, self-perceptions, values, and attitudes. It also predicts human reactions to other people, problems, and stress. In addition to this, Hannah, and Akmal, (2023) postulate that personality encompasses all of the thoughts, behavior patterns, and social attitudes that impact how humans view themselves and what they believe about others and the world around them. Understanding personality allows psychologists to predict how people will respond in certain situations and the sorts of things they prefer and value. While Roberts (2009), stated that personality traits are the relatively enduring patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that reflect the tendency to respond in certain ways under certain circumstances; Almlund, Duckworth, and Heckman (2011) in their contribution added that personality is a response function that maps personality traits to measured (manifest) personality. It could be deduced from the foregoing that personality is that differences in individual characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving.

Broadly, personality has been conceptualized from a variety of theoretical perspectives, and at various levels of abstraction or breadth (John, Hampson, & Goldberg, 1991; McAdams, 1995). Each of these levels has made unique contributions to the understanding of individual differences in behavior and experience. Amongst the very many conceptualizations of personality are: Eysenck‘s (1987) three dimensions of neuroticism, extraversion, and psychoticism; Harkness and McNulty‘s five factors of positive emotionality / extraversion, aggressiveness, constraint, negative emotionality / neuroticism, and psychoticism (Harkness, McNulty, & Ben-Porath, 1995), Tellegen‘s(1982) three dimensions of negative affectivity, positive affectivity, and constraint; Millon‘s six polarities of self, other, active, passive pleasure, and pain (Millon, et al., 1996), the interpersonal circumplex dimensions of agency and communion (Pincus&Gurtman, 2006), Zuckerman‘s (2002) five dimensions of sociability, activity, aggression hostility, impulsive sensation seeking, and neuroticism- anxiety, Cloninger‘s (2000) seven factors of novelty seeking, harm avoidance, reward dependence, persistence, self-directedness, cooperativeness, and self- transcendence; and the Five Factor Model (Big Five) dimensions of neuroticism, extraversion, openness, conscientiousness, and agreeableness (Costa & McCrae, 1990).

The ‗Big-Five Framework‘, is a hierarchical model of personality traits with five broad factors, believed to represent personality at the broadest level of abstraction. Each bipolar factor (e.g., Extraversion vs. Introversion) summarizes several more specific facets (e.g., Sociability), which, in turn, subsume a large number of even more specific traits (e.g., talkative, outgoing). The Big-Five framework suggests that most individual differences in human personality can be classified into five broad, empirically derived domains.

Several researchers leaned on the Five Factor Model (FFM), as a dominant one in personality psychology (Aboaja, Duggan, & Park, 2011; Garcia, 2011; Jovanovic, 2011), and agree that individual differences in personality are captured by the dimensions of the Five Factor Model or Big Five Taxonomy (Hapmson, 2012). Much of what psychologists mean by the term ―personality‖ is summarized by the FFM, and the model has been of great utility to the field by integrating and systematizing diverse conceptions and measures (McCrae & Costa, 2008). Additionally, each of the DSM-IV-TR personality disorders can, in fact, be readily understood as a maladaptive or extreme variant of the domains and facets of the FFM (Widiger&Trull, 2007; Aboaja, Duggan, & Park, 2011). Therefore, an investigation of Big Five model scales and subscales would have useful outcomes in considering personality traits in criminal behaviour.

FFM involves some assumptions about human nature and about what people are like. Noting these assumptions, illustrate the natural functioning of individuals and helps in discriminating how normal functioning is. The five personality factors of Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness form the substantive nucleus of FFM. According to McCrae & Costa (2008) each of these factors are related to some characteristic adaptations which has the capacity to trigger criminal behaviour. They are characteristic because they reflect the enduring psychological being of the individual, and they are adaptations because they help.

Neuroticism (a tendency to experience dysphoric affect, sadness, hopelessness, and guilt), is related to Low self-esteem, irrational perfectionistic beliefs, and pessimistic attitudes. Extraversion (a preference for companionship and social stimulation), is related to social skills, numerous friendships, enterprising vocational interests, participation in team sports, and club memberships. Openness to experience (a need for variety, novelty, and change) is related to interest in travel, many different hobbies, knowledge of foreign cuisine, diverse vocational interests, and friends who share tastes. Agreeableness (a willingness to defer to others during interpersonal conflict) is related to forgiving attitudes, belief in cooperation, inoffensive language, and reputation as a pushover.

Conscientiousness (strong sense of purpose and high aspiration levels) is related to leadership skills, long-term plans, organized support network, technical expertise (Aboaja, Duggan, & Park, 2011).

In sum, the five personality factors—Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness— form the substantive nucleus of the system; FFT traces their ramifications throughout the personality system. It also provides a framework within which to understand the development and operation of psychological mechanisms (such as need for association) and the behavior and experience of individual men and women. This model is adopted for the present study.







This chapter therefore, focused on research methodology and techniques used and also on the justification of such methods and techniques in the study

Research Design

A research of this kind demands that the research methods/procedures must be reluctant and acceptable to the study. This becomes important since the bending of the research depends on the quality of information or data collected. The descriptive research method was used in this research work.

The area of the study

 The area of the study is koton karfe prison in Kogi State

 Population of the study

This is the total number of aggregates of all peoples which by virtues of common characteristics may be defined as belonging to the same population.  Koton karfe prison has a total staff of 480 persons. The researcher adopted 480 persons accessible as the population size of the study. The target population for this study consist of the staff  of koton karfe prison in kogi State who are between 18 years and above.



Data Presentation and Analysis

In this chapter, the researcher uses statistical tools to present and analyze data gathered during the administration of research instruments.

The researcher uses frequency tables and percentage to present and analyze data on demographic characteristics of respondents and data. Frequency tables and percentage to test null hypothesis of the study in order to accept or reject them. Finally the researcher presents discussion of findings made during the study.




This study has been able to look into the contributions of different scholars on the issue of female criminality. It has been able to relate findings as they affect the research problem.

The problem of the study was specifically aimed:

  1. To describe the extent and type of female involvement in crimes and analyze the types of crimes in which women have been most visible;
  2. To determine the socio-economic attributes of women in crime. And finally identify factors predisposing women to criminality.

The findings show that most of the female offenders are first offenders. This means that most of these female offenders find themselves in prison once in their life. But there is also a few cases of recidivist of whose frequency does not exceed three times. These recidivists could fall into the category that Lombroso (1894) termed the occasional criminal’ a more frequent criminal type who commits crime at the suggestion or by the influence of a male probably a lover.
Data collected revealed that the types of crime females are involved in are armed robbery, kidnapping, murder, theft, assault, cheating, drugs, criminal bridge trust, and conspiracy. But the crimes of which the respondents have been most visible are murder and theft.
Based on the findings, it was discovered that a high percentage of these female offenders resided in the rural areas. This is a good enough reason why they engaged in criminal acts or activities. The rural area is known for its homogeneity. Relationships are more at the inter-personal level, and the bond between individuals becomes strong. In the rural areas, everybody knows virtually what his or her neighbour is doing and as result one can can easily offend the other and in the cause of retaliation one gets hot. Civilization which is more evident in the urban areas has opened the eyes of many. Bad company is another predisposing factor to criminality. Peer groups have great influence on individuals. When an individual continues to associate more with a group that sees the societal norms of offensive, the individual also tends to violate the values of that society. Hence, a good percentage of the offenders are introduced into criminal activities by their friends.
In addition to this, most of the female offenders were brought up by their parents. The family under which one grows up also affects his or her life. The type of upbringing one had during his or her childhood influence his or her behavioural conduct and adulthood. The inference here is that parents no more carry out their responsibilities of inculcating morality in their children. There is laxity in the socialize children. It also serves for religious and moral training. If the family does not carry out these functions, the resultant problem will be moral decadence. The above point seems to agree with the hypothesis that poor socialization process is likely to influence criminality and delinquency in individuals. Economic conditions are another contributory factor to criminality. Most of these female offenders are either in the informal sector or unemployed, thus they have no stable means of income. Even those in employment earn meager salary. Where would this get them, with the economic hardship that has befallen Nigeria? The frustration caused by this hardship is enough to make one commit murder.


The basic assumption of the major work on female criminality than seeing it as a physiological or psychological problem. For instance, from the findings, the educational level or attainment of the female inmates countered the argument Lombroso that female criminals look and behave like the primitive males that lacked formal education. However, it does not mean that these assumptions are totally wrong in themselves. The various scholars must be credited for their attempt in trying to understand the issue of female criminality.
The main argument in this study is that criminality is caused by social factors and not biological factors. As such, there is a need to carry out a new study on women and crime. And to this, it is necessary to understand the assumptions made by the traditional to understand the assumptions made by the traditional writers and break away from them. Crime should not be seen as caused by factors within the female, rather, crime should be seen as caused by factors external to the females.
In conclusion, this study is not claiming superiority over the already existing literature nor is the argument absolute and perfect. The study is equally open to criticisms and modifications


This project is not only meant to find out the type and factors that lead to female criminality. It also meant to recommendation because it is not only to study a social problem that matters, there has to be a way to study a social problem that matters, there has to be a way out of the problem. Thus the recommendation is in two angles:

  1. To the family which is the smallest unit of the society where socialization first begins and,
  2. The government whose policies affect the individuals in the society.

In as much as civilization has contributed to the decay of the family function, the family should still see it as its primary function to socialize children, to inculcate sound moral values in them. This sound moral value starts right from childhood. On the other hand, unemployment causes a lot of problem in the society. The provision of job opportunities for Nigerians may be one way of stemming crime rate. The government should review its policies so as to create job opportunities for members of the society. All hand must be on deck. The government should review the salary scales of workers also. This should be done in such a way that the monthly salaries are able to meet the financial demands and obligation of individuals.
If there is anything the government can do to improve the standard of living of individuals in reducing hardship, the government should do it. At least this effort can go along way in reducing or curbing crime and female criminality particularly, in Nigeria. Thereby, giving the country a face lift.


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