Vol. XXII, Issue 1 (Winter 2015): Nigeria and Film; The Nigerian Banking Industry and
  Law Enforcement



Gloria Emeagwali
Chief Editor

Walton Brown-Foster
Copy Editor

Haines Brown

ISSN  1526-7822


Olayemi Akinwumi

Ayele Bekerie

Paulus Gerdes

Alfred Zack-Williams
(Sierra Leone)

Gumbo Mishack

(South Africa)



Jennifer Nicoletti
Academic Technology, CCSU

For more information on AfricaUpdate
Prof. Gloria Emeagwali
CCSU History Dept.
1615 Stanley Street
New Britain, CT 06050
Tel: 860-832-2815


Table of Contents 


In this issue of Africa Update we focus on two main areas, Nigerian film and the  Nigerian Banking Industry. In the case of film the concern is the  subtitles of movies, and some of the common errors that should be avoided. The authors reflect on some of the conceptual issues associated with the craft and remind us that Nigerian Cinema is no longer a localized affair but has trans- regional  implications that merit caution and care in the making of subtitles.

 In his article, Dr. Uwem Udok points to  various dimensions of law enforcement, and  argues that the investigators of  bank fraud should benefit from  the expertise of the police and be adequately equipped to pursue  such cases. He argues that officers should be retrained in computer related skills to enhance their capabilities in fraud detection and that  improved equipment and better modes of monitoring and surveillance are of prime importance.

To the contributors to this issue we offer special appreciation. 

Professor Gloria Emeagwali
Chief Editor

“Subtitling of errors in Nigerian movies across cultures: The implications for literacy efficiency

Kayode Animasaun, PhD. Associate Professor of Gaze and Creative Writing, Mass Communication Department, Adeleke University, Ede Osun State Nigeria.

Animasaun Yewande Amarachi, Department of Linguistics and Communication, College of Humanities and Culture Osun State University, Ikire.

The home video otherwise referred to as movies or film in Nigeria has become not only a powerful entertainment medium but also English language – learning medium in the Nigerian environment. Beyond that however, it is empowering thousands of Nigerian graduates and school leavers. It is also fast becoming a major foreign exchange earner for the nation thereby creating a conducive political and external environment, because most of the movies produced in the country readily find their ways into overseas countries. In the process of making impact outside the country, production has gone beyond the Yoruba region and so too Hausa movie producers. However, Igbo artistes by virtue of the adoption of English language mostly as the medium of production, quality production and astute investments from Igbo businessmen, have raised the standard of the movies and created a niche for Nollywood, a generic name for Nigerian movies.

To ensure continuous relevance and control of market, some steps were taken in the course of scripting. Earliest Nigerian movies were produced in L1. In the forefront of this was “Aje ni Iya mi”. However, the L2 production was “Living in Bondage” all by Nnebue Kenneth. Earlier attempts such as ‘‘Ija Ominira’’ by Ade Love, ‘‘Aye’’ by Ogunde and ‘‘Orun moru’’ by Moses Ola – iya Adejumo, Baba Sala were on celluloid, and were meant to be screened only in cinema houses.

Theoretical Frame Work
A major step in the process of making the movie accessible to every audience regardless of language or race, however, is through subtitling. But some Nigerian movie producers had also adopted cross-cultural or continental casting as another step to extend the movie environment beyond the shores of Nigeria. Animasaun (2004) informs that characters are made to feature in movies of different language backgrounds apart from their original language. The movie language environment now becomes the artistes’ L2. For instance Igbo artistes that can speak passable Yoruba are made to take a role in Yoruba language movie. Also, Yoruba artistes who can speak passable Igbo or Hausa are made to appear as artistes in either Igbo or Hausa movies. Also foreign artistes for example Ghana, America and India have featured in some Nigerian movies. The implication of this type of casting is on the phonology of the artistes’ attestation of the new language. Where fluency is not properly ascertained, the tendency is that the non native audience may accept that artiste’s pronunciation as the standard form. A faulty attestation hereby produces lexicopollution.

Subtitling as earlier stated is another major step to reach a wider audience and environment. According to Nornes (1999) this is the written translation of the spoken language of the movie into the one that the audience can easily understand. It is a form of inter – lingual communication, which involves interpretation (speaking) and translating (writing). Nornes also states that the effectiveness of the linguistic communication as it involves speaking and writing depends upon the cultural, linguistic and communication environment and audience preferences.

This attempt to translate the content of a movie within the domestic culture of the viewer is what Venuti (1995), terms domestication of foreign linguistic frames. In essence, the audience as it follows the movie footage is inclined to interpret the movie in line with its linguistic meanings. This is environmental domestication of the linguistic universe. This is taking the movie to the language – learning realm beyond the entertainment scope crafted for it. Taylor (2004), states that most movies have a political universe that is both entertaining and instructive to other cultures. Therefore, the tendency is for the L2 audience to take both the writing (spelling) and speaking formats of the movies as another medium to learn the language of subtitling,  after interpreting the movie.

Types of Subtitling
According to Schutlze and Bignenet (1992), the subtitler as a well – trained individual, to produce a near – linguistic accurate translation should transplant the artistes’ rendition into his own language. Hence, subtitling according to Nornes may take any of these:

a) The talkie type: This uses straightforward prose to introduce a movie to arouse the audience’s interest. This attempts to bring the foreign language to the audience on their own domestic terms. In essence, the subtitling is transliterational, dwelling more on the simple down-to-earth appropriation of local dialect to specific English or L2 standard.

b) The cinematic translation: Here, so much about the language of the movie is attempted to be known by the translator, and he uses this to task the imagination of the audience and his acclaimed knowledge of the movie language.

c) The abusive method: The objective of this is to achieve perfect native identity with the original language. The translator identifies strongly with movie language universe to the extent of ceding the power of his own language to accomplish a subtitling that transforms the audience into a new rich experience of the foreign.

This is what obtains in the quest to translate proverbs; incantations, prayers, analogies or songs from the movie language to the expected audiences’ language. That is what Ota (1939) referred to as sense for subtitling. This tends to agree with the aspiration of Nornes and disagree with Venutis’ foreignisation strategy. According to Nornes, subtitlers must attempt to interpret the original language so as to  build a linguistic bridge. This is contrary to Venutis who asserts that the translator’s meaning should hold. However, in the Ota and Nornes’ approaches, linguistic confusion may arise in the process of harmonizing L1 to L2.

Methods of Subtitling
Subtitling provides always the maximum summary of what is said in a movie. Thus, the subtitler who should be versatile in the language of translation must be a fast thinker and exact typist of the translations. Translations normally have a lower lexical density than normal texts and it is imperative to ensure linguistic accuracy within this low lexical density, so that young brains that may wish to take the screen example, as the correct form of the language, would not be misled. Below are some of the methods of subtitling.

i) Subject Unit Method: This gives a collapsible summary of all expressions made by each character. According to Triah T. Minhha (1992), the activities of reading and hearing are collapsed into a single phrase. By this, the audience only reads what it hears, and what it hears is more often what it sees. This method therefore requires maximum summary of all utterances.

ii) The Perfectionist Method: Here, the subtitler recognizes his limitations in the language of translation, and thus focuses his subtitling on what the audience can understand only. The question is, how the subtitler can ascertain that he is actually representing the linguistic needs of the audiences. The focus of this method is not a direct translation of the foreign language but an attempt at a perfect match. This is subjective.

iii) Cultural Method: The translator allows his knowledge of the culture of the target audience to guide his translation. Native sayings, analogies and innuendos are considered as a way to make the translation light to the barest summary. The flaw in this method is the poor knowledge of L1 by some Nigerians who may now produce a confusing version in the form of a  translation.

But to take care of cultural frames in linguistic subtitling Katen (1999) introduces the principle of “chucking”. He posits three types of chucking to include chucking up, which is an attempt to provide a more generic translation for certain cultural terms and thus create a broader meaning. Chucking down is to reverse the process, from a generic definition to a more specific term while chucking sideways is to provide alternative examples within the same family. The application of either these would however be determined by the translators’ knowledge of the mechanics of both L1 and L2 language.

Statement of Problem.
As discussed earlier, the Nigerian movie producers’ quest at maximizing investment has made him  resort to code mixing, cross cultural casting and subtitling of films. It is likely that errors would arise in the cause of subtitling some of the movies. The problems this study is trying to unravel therefore are the likely nature of subtitling errors and the way subtitling can affect the Nigerian English language learners. Some audiences not only attempt to copy movie cultures in the form of dressing, home making, social interactions, but also often attempt to imitate the spoken expression of their idols. This is a problem if such expressions are found to be grammatically faulty.

Objectives of the Study
The study is to:
show some of the subtitling methods,
suggest coding methods for subtitled movies,
examine some of the various flaws that can arise in the cause of subtitling of movies, and reflect on:
how these can affect the English literacy environment of the Nigerian learners of the language.

Significance of Study
This study is significant as another contribution to the study on the pragmatics of movie subtitling in English in contemporary film. It is also a contribution to studies in movie subtitling in Nigeria-   as an English literacy medium.

Research Design and Methodology
Data for this analysis were based on content analyzed Nigerian movies. Three Nigerian movies, one each in Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba were randomly selected from the researchers shelf. They were selected from among the Nigerian movies that were subtitled.

 Basis for Selection
The three movies selected,’‘Abe sekele’’- Razor Blade (Yoruba), ‘‘Kukan kurciya’’-a cry of a dove ( Hausa); and ‘‘Spanner IV’’ (Igbo). ‘‘Abesekele’ was selected because of the stature of the producer and director, Adebayo Salami as a first class Yoruba movie and stage actor. The assumption is that based on his vast experience in Drama, this would be called to bear on the way his movie is subtitled.

Also, ‘‘Kukan Kurciya’’ written by Hauwa Mai Zango, produced by Mohammed Badamasi, and directed by Ifeanyi Onyeabor, was selected on the assumption that with two indigenous groups at the production helm of affairs, the tendency is that both cultures would be able to harmonize subtitling, and therefore as much as possible make the subtitling error- free.

‘‘Spanner’’ was chosen because it was written, produced and directed and acted by Igbo artistes in English language. The movie is also subtitled probably to assuage the thirst of some of the audience who may have difficulty in following the characters’ narration. It is expected that the subtitle would be error free because it is not like in the other two movies where translation had to be done before captioning it. The movie ‘‘Spanner’’ was selected, therefore, because of the linguistic background of the cast and crew, and because the audience is likely to pay better attention to the subtitle as it may wish to compare the spoken to the actual written English, used in the movie.

Methods of Coding
The three movies were screened one after the other. The focus was on the translation and the nature of errors each carried. Errors were categorized according to the specification of Ota and Paloposki and coded as:

1. Stylistic Errors due to machine speed (SEMS). In essence, the errors here are those that may likely happen in the efforts of subtitler to ensure that what is subtitled does not spill to other scenes of the movie and that the page is not crowded with wordy expressions.

2. Transliteration Error (TE): That is the error arising from poor interpretation and harmonization of L1 thoughts into L2

3. Errors due to poor knowledge of the Grammar of English Language EGEL. These are errors due to poor knowledge of application of grammatical or linguistic rules. These could be abuse of tenses, spelling, phonological, or calligraphic errors.

In all cases, these errors are copied out, coded and used as basis for determining the errors that subtitlers are likely to make, the implications on English learning stated, and thus the need to be watchful.

Content analysis according to tapes
Tape one: Abesekele

Tape Count (TC)

Observed Error (OE)

Nature of Error


I have no time for Nonesense



Come OF it, you did



Why didn’t your friend comes down (?)



…all should be nutrilized



…when you ARE aboard (past tense)



I have a wife and two kids (past)



Are you sure this are not fake



She’s alwals in pains



I will be quite



…turn obsolate equipment..



Why did you kept quiet?






I lied on you



And he promise to swear



He deserves to be rich, happy and affluence


Note that the actual local language expressions are not included because the paper is interested in the grammatical effect of English language in translation and not translation per se.

Content analysis of the movie ‘‘Abesekele’’ shows that Yoruba subtitlers are likely to make more errors due to poor knowledge of the Grammar of English Language (EGEL). Out of the sixteen subtitling errors identified in the movie, 12 were likely to be EGEL based, while 2 could have been caused by Stylistic Errors due to Machine Speed (SEMS), and 2 were Errors due likely to transliteration (TE) problems.

For instance, “nonsense” is written as nonesense this could be EGEL arising from the wrong assumption that since there is none sense, forming a compound from it should read “nonesense”. Also the elision of “f”, in “come off” could be EGEL; occasioned by the familiarity and constant usage of conjunction “of”. “Neutralized” written as nutrilized could be taken as both EGEL and TE/SMES errors. This is a phonological error in EGEL class. In essence, because in most cases the “e” in “Neutralized” is replaced with “u”, by most Yoruba illiterate audiences, the subtitlers have probably been affected by his L1 intonation,  into writing “nutrilized” - the “trilized” could be error due to SEMS.

Clear examples of errors likely to be TE are the statement like, “Gbogbo Ola mi ti tan”. Translated as “My rich are gone”. This is a transliteration of “I am ruined”. Also “mo pa ro mo e” is transliterated as “I lied on you” instead of “I lied against you.”

The implication of the above identified errors is that the L2 English student is likely to want to imitate the grammar above if not properly guided. Also, a non – Yoruba or even some Yoruba audiences have the tendency to look down not only on the movie artistes as ‘illiterates’, but perceive the Yoruba as poor linguistically.

Tape Two: Kurciya
Observed Mistakes

Tape Count (TC)

Observed Error (OE)

Nature of Error


I beg you for the sake of God



I have sin against you



I hope by grace Allah of she will come



…her position as the elder’s wife



Split it on the floor (water)



What is a woman



…to resign your job because of woman



Wheather he likes it or not



He have even sent…



No, he have over powered her,.. .



There will, why should they ride on you



I will join you immediately, I examining my student



Lets summon everything to Allah


Content analysis of “Kurciya” shows that twelve [12] errors were detected. The result showed also that the Hausa movie subtitler is likely to commit more errors due to poor knowledge of the English grammar above all errors with record of 9 errors. Also, he is likely to commit transliteration errors (TE) with 4 scores and SEMS with 2 counts.

The data shows that the Hausa movie subtitlers is more likely to show tendencies to be poor in grammar EGEL and transliteration than computer (SEMS) subtitling. For instance, “I beg you for the sake of God” is more of transliteration than grammatical error. However, “I have sin against you” is more of a grammatical (EGEL) than any other types of error. Also, “… her position as the elder’s wife” instead of “her position as the eldest wife” is more of both TE and EGEL. Also “spilt it on the floor” (for water) is likely to be both EGE and TE, probably due to poor articulation of the consonant cluster spl and spr; instead of “sprinkler it on the floor”. In the same vein “what is a woman” can serve as EGEL/TE; just as “Let’s summon everything to Allah” can be classified as TE.

From the analysis above, the tendency is that the Hausa movie subtitler has the likelihood of committing translation errors due to poor grammar and inability to harmonize thoughts from L1 into L2 thereby resulting in transliteration error (TE). The implication of this on English literacy is that any L2 audience trying to copy this is likely to have problems of poor performance in English language at spoken and written levels.

Tape Three: Spanner goes to jail [Spanner Part IV]
Table below shows some errors discovered in the subtitling of disc that could not be analysed because of power outage in the process of analysis.

Tape Count

Observed Error

Nature of Error


because this is my… I want him to leave



…by the time I loose my sense



Okechukwu tractor



…what is it that he… find about me? Daddy am talking to you



…what is going between you and okechkwu


Okechukwu is repeated severally in the subtitling

Tape count

Observed Error

Literary causes


I am going to night vigil



Under his nose O hei, I am finished



…dad use to tell me



…do you know what will happen (?)



…am passing through all this…



…she had no resea to device me



My name is Ruben Nwaukwo

Examples for Okechukwu


I thaught we were friends


Analysis of the subtitling showed that 12 errors were detected in the clip. Out of this outright grammatical error (EGEL) were 3 out of all the errors observed, while computer error (SEMS) accounted for 8, and transliteration error (TE) appeared once. For instance the “I” written in small letter in “Because this is my house I want him to leave and “… by the time I loose my senses” could be due more to the inability to manipulate the key board of the computer. All the subtitler or the person who did the typing needed to have done was to tap the keys on upper case and the “I”, now a proper pronoun would have appeared as capital letter. Were those sentences to be hand written, the tendency is that small “i” would not have been written as small letter. The same rule applies to the writing of Okechukwu where the o starts with a smaller letter for a name. This is also the case in the typing of ‘‘through’’ as ‘‘throuh’’ (1.26) and “reason” as “resea” (1.38) these could be attributed to the volume of speech to be typed, and the quest to meet with the space which the tape has for the scene. The tendency therefore is that as in “throuh” because “g” is the next to “h” on the keyboard, to assume that he typed “h”. And since the screen may not have been built with error detecting devices as in some computer packages, the brain of the subtitlers may record it as correct spelling. Likewise EGEL errors due to use of punctuation marks as in (1:18) could also fall within SEMS errors. However, “I am going for night vigil” is a transliteration error. This is a compounding of meaning, because night and “vigil” are the same. A vigil is a night programme therefore to add night is tautology. But (1:23) “…dad use to tell me” is an example of pure grammatical blunder. Which should read, “…dad used to tell me”. It is a past action.

The implication of the above observation therefore is that where movie lines are scripted and not extempore, the tendency is high to have EGEL – free subtitling. However, the more and heavy the lines, the tendency also is that typographical errors are likely to be more.

The viewer is able to compare the actors speech utterance with what is subtitled, because it is possible for what artiste says to be different from what is written, as it happened some times in the movie.

Implications for learning
The movie especially when subtitled is another form of instructional medium of teaching English literacy, which involves written and spoken English. This is extra – ordinary closed form of textual analysis and translation that involves every indices of verbal and visual language as read repeatedly off the screen. The implication therefore is that subtitling of movies produced with English language has the tendency to reinforce learning for both L1 and L2 audiences. But this can be rewarding too if the sentences are short and straight to the narration.

However, audiences watching other language movies would benefit from subtitles if care is taken to write out what is to be subtitled before typing on the screen, make necessary corrections where they occur and as much as possible ensure clarity of all written expressions.

In view of the above findings, the paper is suggesting that:

* Speeches to be subtitled should be carefully thought out, and worded in style, dialogue and meaning following any of the discussed strategies.

* Movie subtitling should be studied as a course under Literature, Mass Communication, Drama and Linguistic Studies

* Every subtitler must also consider the educational, linguistic, cultural and historical environments of the target audience and thus ensure accuracy.

* Screen credits should be given to subtitlers as it is done to other production crew. Feedbacks such as this would make them caution themselves and ensure lexicon accuracy. 

Subtitling should be seen by every movie producer as another way to reinforce the message of the movie, this time as an instructional medium. To this end, as perfection is stressed in casting and blocking, this should be extended to subtitling. Perfect lexical subtitling not only contributes to the image of the movie, it also promotes lexicopollution free environment.

* This is a post-humous publication of one of the authors, Dr. Kayode Animasaun. We publish this article in his honor. May his soul rest in peace. 

Animasaun K. (2004) “Hausa Home Videos: Towards a Dysclozure” in Uba Abdalla Adamu et al (eds) Hausa Home Videos: Technology, Economy and Society Centre Cultural Studies, Kano Nigeria.

Nornes A.M. (1999) “For an Abusive Subtitling” Subtitles of Motion Pictures Film Quarterly spring.

Venuti I. (1995) The Translator’s Invisibility London Rutledge.

Schultze R. and Bignenet J. (1992) “Theories of Translation” An Anthology from Dryden to Derrida (eds) R. Schultze and J. Bignenet University of Chicago Press Chicago: 12 – 13

Ota T. (1939) “The poverty of Japanese Language of Spoken Titles” Nihon Eiga 4(5) 51: May

Paloposki O. (2004) In Defence of Variety, Why we need Different methods In Translation. URL://http//.WWW.findarticles.com. Retrieved 10 March, 2013.

Tirhn T. M. (1992) Framer Framed Routledge New York

Ndaliman M. (2005) Subtitling and Cultural Pollution in Nigeria: A Pilot study of Federal Polytechnic Bida students’ paper presented at the school of Applied Arts and Science Seminar April 7th, 2005.  


 Law Enforcement and the Banking Industry in Nigeria: Assessing the Role of the Police in  Curbing Banking Malpractices

Uwem Udok, LL.B. (Hons) (Nig.), B.L. (Lagos), LL.M. (Lagos), Ph. D (Jos),
Lecturer, Department of Private Law, Faculty of Law, University of Uyo, Uyo

The banking industry constitutes one of the pillars on which the economy of any nation can be erected.1 In fact, when the banking industry sneezes, the entire economy catches cold.2

In 1986, the then Federal Military Government introduced the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) and part of the programme was the deregulation of the banking industry. The liberalization of the banking industry precipitated tremendous growth in the industry. Thus, the number of banks and their branches increased. Total loans and advances, total assets, total capital and reserves also increased during that period.3 The aftermath of this monumental growth in the banking industry was the emergence of “sharp practices” perpetrated by the operators in the industry. These “sharp practices” later metamorphosed into malpractices that resulted in the collapse of many financial institutions. Banking malpractices also commonly referred to as “bank fraud”, “elite” or “white collar” crimes have permeated the very fabric of the banking industry causing monumental havoc and leading to human and financial loses.

Apart from various laws that are designed to check incidences of bank malpractices in the country, there are also various institutions charged with the responsibility of combating cases of unethical practices. The Police is one of the institutions saddled with the responsibility of combating unethical and fraudulent practices through the investigation and prosecution of cases. Thus the offenders of bank malpractices are brought before the law courts for prosecution by the police and if convicted, sentenced accordingly. This paper is therefore, intended to critically assess the role played by the police in curtailing fraudulent practices in the banking industry in Nigeria.

Meaning and Nature of Malpractices
Malpractice has been defined as “improper or illegal practice”, “improper or immoral conduct.”4 It is further defined as “Misconduct or improper practice in any professional or official position.”5 Black’s Law Dictionary defines malpractice as “An instance of negligence or incompetence on the part of the professional.”6

One thing seems to be common among the above definitions. Malpractice connotes a conduct or practice that is improper or illegal. However, the definition of malpractice contained in Black’s Law Dictionary appears to be too wide as it defines malpractice to mean an act of negligence of a professional. Perhaps, what is contemplated in the above definition is professional negligence that may be committed by a medical doctor or legal practitioner. But banking malpractice which is the focus herein, contemplates a manifestation of some kind of fraudulent acts or intention that are against the ethics of the banking profession or against the law in general. Ebhodaghe further elucidates that “by malpractice, we mean broadly an impermissible practice or improper treatment of an issue. In other words, it refers to that practice that is against the rules and regulations or is forbidden by law.”7

Prof. Adeyemi conceptualizes the term malpractice as “those practices which are not only just contrary to the ethics of the banking profession but are against the various banking laws and regulations.”8 Malpractices have also been referred to as corruption and economic crimes. Hence, Joe Goldface – Irokalize states as follows: Banking malpractice, alternatively referred to as corruption and economic crimes, constitute the genus of what is generally known as and commonly called “elite” or “white collar” crimes.”9

Categories of Malpractices in the Banking Industry in Nigeria
Malpractices in the banking industry are categorized into those committed by the bank as a corporate body; those committed by non-bank employees, that is, outsiders; and those committed by bank employee/directors. Examples of bank malpractices are insider dealings, granting of unauthorized overdrafts and loans, excessive interest charges, money laundering and forgery.

Malpractices by Employees/Directors
Malpractices committed by bank employees/directors include the following:

i. Insider dealings,
ii. Granting of unauthorized overdrafts and loans,
iii. Fraudulent transfer and withdrawals,
iv. Malpractices in the perfection of security,
v. Posting of fictitious credit,
vi. Cheque knitting,
vii. Diversion and suppression of cash vouchers or cheques,
viii. Inter branch account malpractices,
x. Outright theft of bank and customer’s money,
xi. Fraudulent loans,
xii. Forgeries,
xiii. Teeming and lading.

Malpractices by the Bank as a Corporate Body
These are malpractices which can be attributed to the official policies of a bank’s management or the breach of Central Bank guidelines in relation to credit policy, foreign exchange, cash reserves and investment policy.

Malpractices by Bank Customers/Outsiders

i. Advance Fee Fraud,
ii. Account opening malpractice,
iii. Forgery and counterfeiting of negotiating instrument,
iv. Cheque malpractice,
v. Money laundering malpractice,
vi. E-banking fraud.

It is pertinent to point out that the above categorization is not water-tight as the perpetrators and the pattern of execution often overlap. For instance, bank malpractices such as forgery of negotiable instruments, cheque malpractices, computer fraud and cheque knitting may be committed by a bank employee or by a bank customer.

The Police
The Police play a significant role in the fight against bank malpractices in the banking industry in Nigeria. Specifically, the Police in the area of investigation and prosecution of bank fraud10 have made enormous contribution. The police derive their statutory powers both from the constitution and the Police Act. However, the extent to which the police discharge these statutory functions depends on the availability of a conducive atmosphere in terms of adequate training, equipment and co-operation of all those concern.

Establishment of the Police Force
The  Nigerian Constitution declares that there shall be established for Nigeria, a Police Force, to be known as the Nigerian Police.11 The Constitution provides for the establishment of a Police Force for Nigeria. Section 214 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides as follows:

There shall be a Police Force Nigeria which shall be known as the Nigeria Police Force and subject to the provision of this section, no other Police Force shall be established for the Federation or any part thereof.

Section 214(2)b of the constitution (as amended) further provides thus:

The members of the Nigeria Police Force shall have such powers and duties as may be conferred on them by law.

It has been argued that the establishment of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) as a parallel body to discharge the same function of the police is contrary to Section 214(1) of the 1999 constitution (as amended).12 However, the court is yet to pronounce on the constitutionally of the EFCC Act.

Duties of the Police
Under Section 4 of the Police Act,13 the Police is charged with the following responsibilities:

i. The prevention and detection of crime;
ii. The protection of life and property;
iii. The apprehension of offenders;
iv. The preservation of law and order;
v. The due enforcement of all laws and regulations with which it is directly charged;
vi. The performance of such military duties within and without Nigeria as may be required of them by or under the authority of any Act.

Arguably, most of the above responsibilities of the Police appear to be performed also by another government agency which is the Economic and Financial Committee (EFCC).

Apart from the above duties, the Police is further empowered under the Police Act to conduct prosecutions,  but,  however, subject to the powers of the Attorney-General of the Federation and of the State.14 In Federal Republic of Nigeria vs. Osahon and Seven others,15 the Supreme Court held, inter alia, that as much as the police have the authority under the Police Act to prosecute, the Police Officers can prosecute cases up to the highest court of the land. However, the Supreme Court further held, that the powers of Attorney General come in for the purpose of undertaking, continuing or discontinuing criminal prosecutions. This invariably means that the police can prosecute up to the highest court of the land without the fiat of the Attorney-General but however subject to the powers of the Attorney-General to discharge his duties under section 174 of the constitution.  

The Role of the Police in the Prevention and Control of Bank Malpractices

i. Investigation and Prosecution of Bank Fraud Cases
Obviously, where bank fraud occurs in the banking industry, it is the duty of the police to investigate and prosecute all those connected with the offence so committed. Investigation can be defined as an art or a process of closely searching, tracing, tracking or enquiring into a matter with a view to establishing the existence of facts or otherwise about such a matter.16 Information, interrogation and instrumentation are said to be the tools of investigation.17 There is no strait-jacket investigation pattern of bank fraud cases by the police. Every case investigated would be done depending on its own peculiar circumstances.18 Investigation of a computer fraud casewould take a different pattern from that of a cheque malpractice. It is pertinent to point out, however, that the element of intuition and of inspiration of the investigator will greatly add to the extent of success of the investigation since the investigator would be required to go through numerous articles and or document that will have to be used. The emergence of electronic banking in the banking system has brought with it new methods of perpetrating banking fraud. Indeed, most banks and other financial institutions have introduced electronic banking systems which principally involve the use of computer systems thereby breeding computer fraud. The police appear not to be well-equipped to investigate and detect offences committed by the use of computers, therefore, the police investigator requires adequate training in computer sciences. It should be noted that the investigation of computer fraud requires the co-operation of everyone, namely, the police investigator, a computer expert, an electronic processing auditor and the prosecutor.19

The police have been subjected to a whole lot of allegations or criticisms in the way and manner, they carry out their investigation of bank fraud cases. Chuks Nwaze commented thus:

There is a category of allegations that is particularly worrisome because of its tendency to oil the engine of fraud in the banking system. This has to do with the concept of “highest bidder” in fraud investigation especially when a bank has lost of money to a fraudster. That is while the fraudster is willing and able to role out a percentage of his loot to exonerate himself, the bank is unwilling to dish out good money to pursue the one that is clearly going down the drain. In other words, the bank can never pay as much as the fraudster is willing to pay; the outcome of such Police investigations are predictable and the fraudster smiles home to go and plan his next target.20

The above scenario depicts a very pathetic situation concerning the police investigation of bank fraud cases. In practice, it is better not to report a bank fraud case to the police than to do so. The police will compound the problem by detaining all the bank workers connected with the act as if it is only by detention they can go to the root of the matter. It becomes difficult for the bank staff to regain his or her freedom without having to negotiate the ‘price’ depending on the status of the officer involved.21 The slogan that bail is free becomes a myth rather than a reality.

It is pertinent to point out that the bankers’ duty of secrecy like all other fiduciary duties is a duty of reasonable care and not an absolute one.22 For instance, where  an unauthorized person manages to tap into the bank’s electronic system, notwithstanding sophisticated electronic “defenses" or “safeguard”, the bank should not be held liable, since it had taken due care to protect its records. Thus, in Habib Nigeria Bank vs. Koya,23 the respondent was a customer of the appellant bank, where he maintained a foreign currency account. He also maintained another account with a bank in Saudi Arabia. In March 1990, he instructed the appellant to transfer the sum of $7,700 to his Saudi Arabian bank account, which the appellant did. In April 1990, a stranger purporting to be the respondent instructed the Saudi Arabian Bank to transfer the sum of $7,700 to the account of one Matlub, whom the respondent did not know. A photocopy of the respondent’s letter of March 1990 was attached to the stranger’s letter of April, 1990. The respondent sued the bank for negligence, alleging that the fraud was perpetrated because of the appellant’s failure to keep his March, 1990 letter secret. The respondent was unable to prove the case. In allowing the appeal, the court held that, 

… this duty is however within the ordinary meaning of transactions and what transpires in the ordinary cause of business and does not extend to factors and situations that are beyond the bank’s control and power. 

Many factors were taken into consideration by the Appeal Court in arriving at the decision. The Appeal Court relied heavily on the testimony of the banks witness, to the effect that the bank took all necessary precautionary measures to keep the transaction between it and the customer confidential and secret.

Access to evidence in bank fraud cases is a major hurdle the police would have to overcome. The banking system requires non-disclosure and confidentiality in handling transactions on behalf of their customers. It is a fiduciary relationship. Thus a bank is not supposed to disclose the state of affairs of a customer’s account to a third party, though with some exceptions. This is otherwise called the Banks’ duty of secrecy or confidentiality. It is a common law rule. The banker is however, entitled to disclose information about his customers in four circumstances, viz, where disclosure is compelled by law, where the banker owes a duty of disclosure to the public, when disclosure is required in the interest of the bank and when the customer consents.24

The Police prosecutors have fallen back on the first exception, which is when disclosure is compelled by law to gain access to the bank’s books of account. Section 7 of the Bankers’ Book Evidence Act 187925 allows access to the Bankers’ books of account. It states as follows: 

On application of any party to a legal proceeding, a court or judge may order that such party be at liberty to inspect and take copies or any entries in a banker’s book for the purpose of such proceedings. An order under this section may be made either with or without summoning the bank or any other party and shall be served on the bank or any other party three clear days before the same is obeyed unless the court or judge otherwise directs. 

Relying on the above provision, the police have been able to obtain court orders to inspect the bank accounts of suspected offenders and to obtain relevant evidence. Sometimes, even when no charge has been preferred against a suspect and trial has not begun, with the co-operation of the banks, the police use such orders to inspect and obtain relevant evidence.26 This practice was criticised in the case of International Merchant Bank Ltd. Vs. Magistrate Titus Agbolade, Inspector General of Police, and Attorney-General of the Federation27 where the police sought and obtained an order of a Magistrate under Section 7 of the Bankers Book of Evidence Act 1879 to inspect and take copies of ledgers of account of a customer of the then International Merchant Bank (IMB). In granting an order of certiorari to quash the order of the Magistrate Court, the Learned Judge, Justice Omotosho quoted from the ruling of Taylor C. J. (as he then was) who had observed as follows:  

It is difficult for me to imagine for one moment that the practice, such as a practice taking place in all magistrate courts, in truth and in fact takes place. I find it hard to believe that such a grave violation of private rights can be sanctioned by our courts without hearing of the person affected, without any proceedings civil or criminal being before the court and in such a way as to leave no record in our courts that can be challenged or from which even a certified true copy can be made. 

The Learned Trial Judge then held that the Learned Magistrate disregarded the provision of Section 7 of the Bankers Book of Evidence Act under which the order was purportedly made, since the section required an order to be made only when proceedings were pending before the court. 

It has been submitted that the court has discretion as to whether or not to make the order of compulsion. The court will weigh the need to respect confidentiality against public interest. Such power of compulsion is usually exercised with great caution and is only exercised where the grounds for it are clearly established and sufficient. It further submitted that the court must be satisfied either that the account in question is that of a party to the litigation or that he is so concerned with the account that items in it would be evidence against him.28 Three major issues stand out:  Firstly, the violation of private right of the party concerned under the constitution. The constitution protects the right to private life of the party and this of course extends to his or her bank account. Secondly, there is the right to fair hearing. The need to adhere to the principles of audi alteram patem. Thirdly, there is the need to prevent fraud and financial malpractices through statutory provisions,  even though such may derogate from the right of privacy of the party concerned.

To balance competing interests of all the parties concerned, it is submitted that in such a situation, notice of the application to the court must be given to both the bank and the third party concerned. Furthermore, the applicant must present before the court sufficient materials by way of affidavit and relevant exhibits. An application without  cogent and sufficient supporting facts should not be granted by the court. In that case, the court is entitled to declare that such an applicant has not disregarded the burden placed on him or her.29

In practice, the police do not bother to adhere to the above suggestions; such applications are made by the police to the magistrate or judge without any supporting affidavit deposed by them. Based on such application, orders are routinely and freely issued ex parte by magistrates without taking into consideration the rights of the customer. In fact, in most cases, police are said to have in their possession already print out forms which they fill at their offices and take to the magistrates or judges for their endorsement.30 This is not in compliance with Section 7 of the Bankers Book Evidence Act 1879. It is also pertinent to state that Section 7 does not empower the court based on the application of the police to freeze the customers’ account.31

Still on the investigation and prosecution of bank fraud cases by the police, Section 91(1) (e) of the Evidence Act32 provides an exception to the general rule that proof of document should be by tendering of primary evidence33 and lays down the procedure for such proof. It states that copies of entries in bankers books cannot be received in evidence unless it is first proved that the the entry was made in the usual and ordinary course of business and that the book is in the custody and control of the bank. Such proof may be given orally or by affidavit by a partner or officer of the bank the copy must have been examined with the original entry and must be correct, which proof must be given by someone who has examined the copy with the original entry. This is to ensure that proper foundation is laid before such evidence is given.34

The following problems have been identified as constituting a stumbling block to police investigations and prosecution of bank fraud:

i. Delay and/or refusal to report bank fraud cases to the police: Most banks are reluctant to report bank fraud cases to the police so as not to attract publicity. Banks often perceive that their image as secure and trustworthy financial institutions will be spurned thereby reducing the numerical strength of their customers. Sometimes even when reports are made to the police, the banks refuse to follow up at the police station and to even assist in the investigation and prosecution of the offenders thereby aiding the offender to escape justice. Thus, it is one thing to report but another thing to follow up.

ii. Unwillingness of bank officials to volunteer statements to the police: Most bank employees are unwilling to volunteer statements to the police for fear of being called as a witness to testify in the matter. Furthermore, in certain cases, the bank may refuse to provide the necessary documents to aid the police in the investigation and prosecution of the matter. This usually happens where a top official of the bank is involved in the matter.

iii. Lack of Infrastructure and Manpower: The dearth of infrastructures in the police formation is a major setback in the investigation and prosecution of bank fraud cases by the police. To be able to handle effectively and efficiently, the  investigation and prosecution of bank fraud cases, the police have to be sufficiently equipped to carry out such responsibilities. Unfortunately, the reverse is the case. Investigation of bank fraud cases is highly technical and requires expertise knowledge. Most bank fraud cases are carried out through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Most police formations cannot even boast of a single computer to enable the investigator to store and retrieve necessary information or to prepare adequately for the case. Besides, the police do not have sufficient manpower to handle the investigation and prosecution of bank fraud cases. With the ever-increasing rates of computer fraud now prevailing in the country, the Nigerian Police Force of today will certainly not be able to cope with these offences considering the sophisticated dimension in the manner and methods the offences are committed.35 In fact, some of the methods have assumed international dimension quite beyond the capability of the Nigerian Police Force to investigate.36

iv. Lack of training and re-training of officers: Most police officers who are investigators or prosecutors are not well educated especially those who prosecute at the Magistrate Courts. Quite a good number of police prosecutors at the Magistrate Court level are holders of WASC or Ordinary Diploma. The investigation and prosecution of bank fraud cases are not jobs for a police officer whose minimum qualification is WASC or Ordinary Diploma.37

In 2008, it was reported in a national daily to the effect that police trainers from the United States of America and the United Kingdom would arrive in  the country to train their Nigerian counter-parts on investigative skills. The report further stated that the training would cover homicide detection, crime scene investigation, cyber crime and forensic technology.38

v. Present structure of the people: Perhaps, the most important factor militating against the effectiveness of the police in combating criminality in the banking sector is its present structure.39 The present structure of the Nigerian Police Force does not promote specialization. It makes an average policemen jack-of-all-trades and master of none. He moves from guard beat to patrol and from that to orderly, investigation, prosecution, traffic and so on.40 Sometimes, he is moved from one part of the country to another in the name of transfer. This makes specialization and acquisition of certain skills near impossible. Frequent transfer of such policemen distorts the investigative process as a new person posted to the place would have to start afresh.

Conclusion and Recommendations
The police has performed creditably well in the discharge of their statutory functions both within and outside the country. In the area of investigation and prosecution of bank fraud, the police have done their best but they are often confronted by certain challenges which have been highlighted in this article. These challenges can be tackled if certain measures are adopted by the government and other stakeholders. The following recommendations are hereby made to address some of these challenges.

First, there should be proper funding of the police to assist them in the fight against bank fraud in the country.

Secondly, in the investigation and prosecution of bank fraud cases by the police, the bank officials should assist the police by providing the necessary logistics to the police

prosecutors. Witnesses who are bank officials should be ready to volunteer statements and give evidence in court. Relevant documents should also be made available to the police prosecutors.

Thirdly, bank fraud cases are highly technical and require expertise knowledge. Sufficient trained manpower should be provided. Equipment like computers to store and retrieve information should be made available to all the police formations. More professionals should be recruited into the Police Force to boost their manpower especially in the area of investigation and prosecution of cases.

Fourthly, logistics in terms of vehicles should be provided for the investigators to move around to do their jobs.

Fifthly, police officers working in the criminal investigation and legal departments should be trained or re-trained on investigation skills, information technology and techniques in crime detection, prevention and control.

Sixthly, the present structure of the Nigerian Police Force should be re-organised to enhance specialization in certain fields. Policemen who are in the criminal investigation and legal department should be rarely transferred from where they are working to another station.

Furthermore, there is need to post one or two policemen working in the criminal investigation and intelligence department of the police to the banks to assist in the area monitoring and surveillance. 


1 O. Akanle, “Legal and Institutional Framework for the Control and Prevention of Crime in the Banking Industry in Nigeria”, Ajibola and Awa (eds) Banking and Other Financial Malpractices in Nigeria (Lagos and Oxford, Matlhouse Press 1990) at 2 

2 Ibid. 

3 J. Eghodaghe, “Malpractices in the Banking Industry: Nature, Types, Causes and Remedies”, in Safe and Sound Banking Practice in Nigeria: Selected Essays (Lagos, Page Publishers 1997) at 160 

4 New International Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary of English Language Encyclopaedic Edition, (Typhoon International Corporation 2003) at 112.  

5 New World Dictionary, (Siman and Sclustr 2nd Edition), at 140. 

6 B. A. Garner (ed.) Black’s Law Dictionary, (London, Thompson West Publishing 8th Edition 2004) at 978. 

7 Malpractice in the Banking Industry: Nature, Types, Causes and Remedies in Safe and Sound Banking Practice: Selected Essays, op.cit. at 161. 

8 Malpractice in the Banking Industry: Ajibola B., and Awa, U. K. (eds.) in Banking and other Financial Malpractices in Nigeria (Lagos and Oxford, Malthouse Press 1999) at 14 

9 Eradication of Banking Malpractices in Nigeria: Will Law alone Succeed” (1995) CBN Economic and Finance Review at 62 

10 The term “Bank fraud” is used interchangeably here as Bank Malpractice though Bank fraud form part of Bank Malpractices 

11 Police Act, Laws of the Federation, 2010 Cap P19.s.3 

12 Omoruyi I. , Policing Financial Crimes in Nigeria: “A Critical Examination of Offences under the EFC Act, 2002” (2004) Modern Practice Journal of Finance and Investment Law. at 639 

13 Laws of the Federation, 2010. Cap P18 

14 S. 23 of the Act  

15 Supra 

16 Ahmadu, B. “Investigation of Bank Fraud and Other Malpractices”, Ajibola, B. and Awa U.K.

(ed) Banking and Other Financial Malpractices (Lagos and Oxford, Malthouse Press 1990) at 105 

17 Ibid  

18 Ibid  

19 Ahmadu, B., op. cit. p. 107 

20 Nwaze, C., op. cit p. 170 

21 Ajala, A. “Banking and the Rule of Law” Business Guardian, Friday, March 1, 2002, p. 45. 

22 Kukoyi, F. “The Law and the Bankers Duty of Secrecy Matters Arising”, Proceedings of

the 2006 National Seminar on Banking & Allied Matters for Judges organised (2006) at 43 

23 (1992) 7 NWLR (Pt. 251) p. 43. 

24 Tournier v. National Provincial Bank (1924) 1 KB 461 

25 Statute of General Application  

26 Osinbajo, Y., “Some Problems of Proof in Bank Frauds and Other Financial Malpractices”

Akpoba, H and Awam U. K. (ed) Banking and Other Financial Malpractices in Nigeria (Lagos and Oxford

Mallhouse Press (1990) at 115. 

27 Suit No. No.M/126/86 Unreported. Cited in Osinbajo, Y., op. cit P. 115. 

28 Kukoyi, F., op. cit. p. 48 

29 Ibid, p. 49 

30 Kukoyi, F. op. cit. p. 49 

31 Onaguruwa v. IGP (1991) 5 NWLR (Pt. 193) 593. 

32 Laws of the Federation 2010 

33 Ibid. S. 88 

34 Ibrahim Kalu Yassin v. Barclays Bank DCO (1968) NWLR 180; Festus Sunmola Yesufu v. A.C.B. (1976) 4 SC.p. 4. 

35 Olatunbosun, A., “Prosecution of Bank Frauds: An Evaluation”, Modern Practice Journal of Finance

& Investment Law, (2004) at 389. 

36 Ibid p. 390. 

37 Akanle, O. “Legal Control and Prevention of Crimes in Banking Industry.” Ajibola, B. and Awa.

U.K. (ed) Banking and Other Financial Malpractices in Nigeria (Lagos and Oxford, Malthouse Press 1990) at 41. 

38 The Punch, Tuesday, April 22, 2008 p. 11. 

39 Akanle, O. op.cit. p.11 

40 Ibid

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