Professor Femi Odekunle: Nigeria’s First Professor of Criminology

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Professor Femi Odekunle is a national Icon and lagend at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria who has contributed greatly to the development of the University and country at large. A public-intellectual, scholar and Consultant in criminological Issues.

Acknowledged as the first Professor of Criminology in Nigeria, the thrust of his academic and professional career have covered teaching, research/publications, policy advice, and public-enlightenment in the areas of sociology of law, crime prevention, and control, policing and law enforcement, courts and justice administration, security, governance/corruption, all in the context of socio-economic and political development.

Early life and Education

After completing primary education at Otapete Methodist School (1955), secondary education at Ilesha Grammar School (1962), and higher secondary school at Molusi College, Ijebu-Igbo (1964), he was further educated at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria (1965-1968) and Ivy League’s University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA (1969-1974) in Sociology and Criminology, respectively.

Professor Femi ODEKUNLE on ChannelsTV
Professor Femi ODEKUNLE on ChannelsTV

He trained at Pennsylvania on scholarship as a University of Ibadan Rockefeller Foundation Scholar as well as a Russell Sage Fellow.

Professor Femi ODEKUNLE’s Career

Having taught Criminology and Sociology in the U.S.A. at Lincoln University for about two years, he returned to Nigeria in 1974 to assume duties as Lecturer II at Ahmadu Bello University where he started the Criminology training programme: 1975 (Lecturer I), 1977 (Senior Lecturer), 1979 (Associate Professor), and in 1982, he was recommended for the rank of full Professor which was formally conferred him, effective 1985.

That is, he has been a full Professor for about 35 years. During the period, he also served as Faculty Sub-Dean; Head of Dept; Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences; Senate-elected Member of the Governing Council of A.B.U; Government-appointed Member of the Governing Council of the University of Lagos; and Board-of-Regents-appointed Member of the Governing Council of Igbinedion University.

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In 1994, he was appointed by the nation’s seat of power as the chairman, Advisory Committee to the Chief of General Staff, CGS, on Socio-Political and Economic Matters. He also served on contract-appointment with the University of Abuja, where he taught Criminology and had served as the first Director of the University’s Centre for Corruption Studies for about two years (2008 -2010).

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He was the first Director of the United Nations African Institute for Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders (1990- 92) and was Chief Project Consultant on the Corruption Money Laundering Nexus in West Africa Survey for ECOWAS Inter-Governmental Action Task Force Against Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in West Africa (2009-2010). Currently, he is a Member, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC)

Professor Femi Odekunle was instrumental to the adoption of the ‘Whistle-Blower’ policy of the federal government and the hugely successful ABU Zaria professional Masters in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement (MLCJ) programme

Research and Publications

As a researcher, he had conducted studies into virtually every aspect of crime-prevention and control in Nigeria and has about sixty (60) publications. He has attended and presented invited papers in about a hundred (100) academic and policy conferences/seminars/workshops in Nigeria and abroad on the subject of crime-prevention and control, corruption, security and related topics.

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His many publications include two edited pioneering volumes on corruption in Nigeria: Nigeria: Corruption in Development (1983, Ibadan University Press); and Fighting Corruption and Organized Crime in Nigeria Challenges for the New Millennium (2001, Spectrum Books).

He has made significant contributions in community service, having served the Federal Government in many committees and has been a member of many international professional associations. In 1994 he was detained on allegation participation in a coup plot but later found not guilty and acquitted.


He has received numerous academic and service awards. He is a Fellow of the Social Science Academy of Nigeria (FSSAN) and currently the President of the Nigerian Society of Criminology and Criminal Justice Administration. He is cited in published “Who’s Who” in Nigeria and abroad and was elected a “Life-Member” of the World Society of Victimiology over ten years ago.

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Chila Andrew Aondofa

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