Festival of Curses: A Traditional Crime Control Method In Edo State –Nigeria

  • Rashidi Akanji Okunola Department of Sociology, University of Ibadan, Ibadan
  • Adediran Daniel Ikuomola Department of Sociology, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba – Akoko; Ondo State
criminal actiities, traditional institutions, crime control and policing


Festivals and ceremonies are part and parcel of African culture, usually in all its pump, merriment and pageantry. However, with the increasing wave of criminal activities in Nigeria especially in Edo state, festivals and ceremonies are being redefined and conceptualized in practice. Only recently a new festival ‘Festival of Curses’ was brought to the fore in combating crime in Edo state. The study therefore seeks to explain the festival as a traditional mechanism in crime control, the nature of the festival, the factors that led to its emergence in the 21st century, the level of acceptance and its impact in reducing criminal activities in the State. The study employed principally secondary literature and in-depth interviews among a cross section of the Bini. Major findings revealed that immediately after the festival of curses, a lot of criminals in the state besieged the Bini Monarch’s Palace to confess their atrocities; and pleaded for forgiveness. There was an overwhelming acceptance of the festival irrespective of the people’s religious affiliations to Christianity and Islam as a result of the potency and sudden drop in crime during the period. The study concludes that the festival should be taken as a mechanism of crime control and policing in Nigeria.


Download data is not yet available.


Adewoye, O. 1977. The Judicial System of Southern Nigeria 1854-1954. London: Longman Group Limited.

Ahire, P. T. 1993. “Native Authority Police in Nigeria: End of an Era”. In Policing Nigeria: Past, Present and Future, T. N. Tamuno, I. L. Bashir, E. E. O. Alemika and A. O. Akano (eds.). Lagos: Nigeria Police Force and Malthouse Press Ltd.

Alemika, E. E. O. 2003. “Police Corruption and Insecurity in Nigeria”. In Police Corruption: Paradigms, Models and Concepts – Challenges for Developing Countries, S. Einstein and M. Amir (Eds.), Chapter 18, 445-494. Huntsville, Texas: Office of International Criminal Justice, Sam Houston State University.

Alemika, E. E. O. 2004. “Crime Statistics and Information Management in Nigeria Justice and Security Systems”. In Crime and Policing in Nigeria: Challenges and Options, Alemika, E. E. O. and Chukwuma, I.C. (eds.). Lagos: Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN).

Beals R.C. and Hoijer, H. 1971. An Introduction to Anthropology, 4th Ed. New York: The Macmillian Pub. Co. Chp. 13.

Beals, R. C., Hoijer, H. and Beals, A. R. 1977. An Introduction to Anthropology, 5th Ed. New York: Macmillian Pub. Co. Chp. 14.

Bohanman, P. 1963. Social Anthropologist. New York: Holk, Rinehart and Wiston.

Bradbury, R. E. 1957. The Benin Kingdom and the Edo-Speaking Peoples of South Western Nigeria. Int, Afr. Inst. London Passim.

Bradbury R. E. 1973. Benin Studies. O.U.P. p. 249-50.

Clemente, F. and Kleiman, T. 1977. Fear of crime in the United States: A multivariate analysis. Social Forces 56 (2): 519-531.

Driberg, J. H. 1934. The African conception of law. Journal of Cooperative Legislation and International Law: 17–26.

Duhart, D. T. 2000. Urban, Suburban and Rural Victimization, 1993-1998. Accessed from http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs on 15/05/2006.

Eades, I. S. 1980. Changing Cultures: The Yoruba Today. London: Cambridge University Press.

Eboreime, O. J. 1980. The Funerary Rites of Late Oba Akenzua II and the Coronation of Omonoba Erediuwa (1978-79). National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Documentar. Lagos, Nigeria.

Ekeh, P. P. 1980. Colonialism and Social Structure. Ibadan: Ibadan University Press.

Gallin, D. and Jhabvala, R. 2001. Organizing in the Informal Economy. Background Paper prepared for the ILO Task Force on the Informal Economy, ILO, Geneva.

Gulliver, P. H. 2000. Social Control in an African Society. A Study of the Arusha: Agricultural Masai of northern Tanganyika.
Henderson, V. 2002. Urbanization in Developing countries. World Bank Research Observer 17 (1): 89-112.

ILO, 2002. State Violence in Benin Alternative Report to the Committee on Human Rights. www.ilo.org/2002report. Retrieved 12/09/2010.

Karshenas, M. 1996. Dynamic economies and the critique of urban bias. Journal of Peasant Studies 24 (1-2): 60-102.

Lambert, H. E. 1947. The Use of Indigenous Authorities in Tribal Administration: Studies of the Meru in Kenya, Colony; Cape Town. Communications from the School of African Studies, N.S. No.16.

Mair, L. 1972. An Introduction to Social Anthropology (2nd Edition). London: Oxford University Press.

Mitlin, D. 2002. Understanding Urban Poverty: What the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers Tell Us. IIED Poverty Reduction in Urban Areas Series Working Paper 11.

National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). 2004. “Summary of Crime Statistics in Nigeria from 1994-2003”. In Crime and Policing In Nigeria: Challenges and Options. Network on Police Reform in Nigeria, Etannibi E. O. Alemika and Innocent C. Chukwuma (eds).

Nolte, I. 2007. Ethnic Vigilantes and the State: The Oodua People’s Congress in South-Western Nigeria. Journal of International Relations 21(2): 217-37. SAGE Publications http://ire.sagepub.com. Retrieved on 20/10/2009.

North, D. C. 1991. Institutions. Journal of Economic Perspectives 5 (1): 97–112.

Offiong, D. A. 1984. The Functions of the Ekpo Society of the Ibibio of Nigeria. African Studies Review 27: 77-92.

Offiong D. A. 1991. Witchcraft, Sorcery, Magic and Social Order among the Ibibio of Nigeria. Enugu: Fourth Dimension Publishing.

Ogundiya, I. S. 2010. Democracy and good governance: Nigeria’s dilemma. African Journal of Political Science and International Relations 4 (6): 201-208.

Okunola, R. A. 2006. The Limit of General Criminal Law. A Study of Traditional Institutions in Crime Management in Rural Nigeria. A Ph.D Thesis of the Department of Sociology, University of Ibadan.

Okunola R. A., Ikuomola A. D. and Adekunbi, K. A. 2010. Information and Policing in Nigeria:Issues and Way Forward. A paper presented at the Nigeria 50 conference of the Department of History, University of Ibadan-Nigeria, August 8-11, 2010.

Olaniyi, R. O. 2005. Community Vigilantes in Metropolitan Kano.

Omojola, B. 2003. “Self-Determination Groups in Yorubaland”. In Urban Violence, Ethnic Militias and the Challenge of Democratic Consolidation in Nigeria, Tunde Babawale (ed.). Lagos: Malthouse Press, P. 93.

Onwuejeogwu, M. A. 1975. The Social Anthropology of Africa: An Introduction. Ibadan: Heineman Educational Books.
Oredo Bulletin. 2010. Curbing Crime in the Kingdom. Edo Press.

Otubu, T. 1999. “Legal overview of housing in public and private enterprises”. In Management and Legal Policies: Issues in Public and Private Enterprises, J. A. Sokefun (ed). Ijebu-Ode: Maicap Publishers.

Radcliffe-Brown, A. R. 1952. Structure and Function in Primitive Society. Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press.

Toseland, R. 1982. Fear of crime: Who is most vulnerable? Journal of Criminal Justice 10: 199-209.

Utomi, P. 2011. Betraying the mission of the generation. The Guardian, Friday, 04 February.

Van-Den-Berghe ed. 1979. Africa: Social Problems of Change and Conflict. California: Chandler Pub. Company.

Weisheit, Ralph A. and Donnermeyer, Joseph F. 2000. Change and Continuity in Crime in Rural America. The Nature of Crime: Continuity and Change 1: 309 – 357.

Young, V. 1992. Fear of victimization and victimization among women: A paradox. Justice Quarterly 9 (3): 419-441.