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Alcohol As Inducement To Crime 

By Peter Manyong

(Observation on the recent Njinikom murder and similar incidents)

Murder has generally been defined by legal experts as ‘any act or omission that leads to the death of a human being". Following this definition, anybody who watches another being murdered, but does nothing to rescue the victim, is nearly as culpable as the person carrying out the act.  

About five weeks ago a young man named Hyacinth Nsom Diangha was stabbed in Muloin, a village in Njinikom Subdivision, by one Jude Ngeh Nkwain, his companion. All attempts by neighbours to save his life were abortive. A controversy ensued in which Hon. Evaristus Njong, MP for the area, was branded as an accomplice by his political enemies. But in the midst of the controversy, the killer granted an interview in which he exonerated the MP by taking full responsibility for the crime. In a local publication, Ngeh stated that he was drunk at the time of the act.

Indulging in crime under the guise or influence of alcohol is a habit that is nearly as old as the human race. The Bible tells us the story of Lot who impregnated his two daughters after they had made him drunk for the purpose. Their crime was divinely inspired since God didn’t want them to marry from the surrounding pagan tribes (Genesis 19:33-36).

Criminals, as a rule, drug themselves before engaging in mischief. It was to discourage such a tendency that Pittacus, an ancient ruler, passed a law stipulating that drunken persons should be given double punishment for their crimes. It is surprising that Aristotle, a moralist who ought to commend Pittacus, rather argued that there was more of policy than justice in that law.
Alcohol is classified among dangerous drugs.

It induces people to commit misdemeanours (offences) which in their normal senses they can only contemplate. This is to say that alcohol does not introduce into the consumer a passion which was not there before. It only magnifies the passion and gives him/her what is generally known as "Dutch Courage" to undertake an act which in normal circumstances can only be contemplated.  

Roman soldiers were indeed brave. But this bravery was best manifested in a state of drunkenness. On such occasions they drew swords and slaughtered each other. This is, however, not to say that all killings in bars are premeditated. History is replete with stories of killings in bars provoked by heated controversies. There is the case of Christopher Marlowe, famous Elizabethan playwright and author of several plays. (Dr. Faustus" The Jew of Malta Tamburlaine the Great) Marlowe, a well known heretic, was stabbed to death in the heart of a quarrel in a tavern.

Stories of soldiers and or gendarmes shooting civilians or each other in bars are legion. A gun in the hand of a Cameroonian security official in a bar is as much in the wrong hand as nuclear weapons in the keeping of a terrorist or a rich married man’s number in the keeping of a prostitute. There is no guarantee of proper usage. The case of the prostitute is worse; she can beep even at midnight.

In the case of Jude Ngeh, the weapon is the dagger. Among other acts of mischief, it is alleged by one Blassius Wan that on the same day he killed Hyacinth, Ngeh threatened stabbing one Killian Yong. There is a saying that whenever mischief is being planned, the devil is always at hand with the means. No suspect in a criminal case, however, goes free by blaming the devil; the devil can only tempt.

Professor A.C Bradley illustrates this point when he tells us in "Shakespearean Tragedy" that Macbeth does not kill Duncan because he has seen a dagger in the air; he sees a dagger in the air because he is on his way to kill Duncan.

Following the same logic, Ngeh didn’t kill Nsom because he was drunk; he was drunk probably because he had made up his mind to kill Nsom. Pastor Pauline Fomben of Jonathan Centre Bamenda told this analyst that the crime plotter drugs himself so as to suppress the tender side of his nature.

A similar argument has been advanced by Stanton E. Samenow his book; "Inside the Criminal Mind". He argues that crime is never the result of external influence. In it, he advances the argument that our modern prisons, far from being rehabilitation centres, are rather breeding grounds for more crimes. This is particularly the case in Cameroon where several convicts are crammed in small cells designed for a third or even fifth of that number.

When they break out or end their stay in detention, they are ten times more dangerous than when they went in. If crime is to be abetted, persons whose activities portray them as nefarious should be apprehended before they scale the fence of social order. The community should not condone them and only cry murder after the mischief has been committed.

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