Legal Aids

Punishment For Arson In Nigeria

Punishment for Arson in Nigeria – Arson:  Offence, Consequences, Punishment

Fire is   an ancient companion of man. In many ways, it has remained critical to life. It is used for cooking, it is used for heating, it     is used for industrial purposes.

The law in its infinite foresight recognizes the uses of fire. Presciently, it also recognizes the destruction that fire can wrought. Crucially, it seeks to regulate fire and its uses. It also seeks to punish its abuse   . Mightily.

The law recognizes that given how potent fire can be, criminals can deploy it as a weapon of mischief and mass  destruction. Thus, in many ways,the law forbids the use of fire and punishes it.

Read Also: Punishment For Bigamy Under Nigerian Law

Punishment For Arson In Nigeria
Punishment For Arson – Photo Source:

Arson Defined.

The   7th Edition of the Oxford Advanced Learner `s Dictionary, International Student `s Edition, at page, defines “Arson” thus:

“The   crime of deliberately setting fire to something, especially a building .”

The Deluxe Ninth Edition of the Black`s Law Dictionary, at page 126 defines “Arson” as:

At   common law, the malicious   burning   of someone  else`s  dwelling  house or outhouse that is either appurtenant  to  the dwelling house or within  the cartilage. The thing that is burnt must be a ‘house’ ”

Read Also: Punishment For Currency Offences In Nigeria

The New International Webster`s Comprehensive Dictionary of the English Language   (Deluxe Encyclopedic Edition) at page   82   defines “Arson ” thus:

The   malicious burning of   a dwelling   or other structure belonging   to another; also   the similar burning of other property   ,including  one`s own  when insured with the intention to defraud  the insurers.”

Wikipedia defines Arson as a crime of intentionally, deliberately and maliciously setting fire to buildings, wildland  areas, abandoned homes, vehicles or other property with the intent to cause damage or enjoy the act. A person who commits this crime is called an arsonist.

More often than not, arsonists use accelerants (such as gasoline or kerosene) to ignite, propel and directionalize   fires.

Historically, the common law crime of arson had four elements. They were (1) the malicious (2) burning (3) of the dwelling (4) of another.

The Criminal Code Act   punishes the crime of arson.

Recognizing   the many deleterious and nefarious   ends fire  can be deployed to, the law proscribes arson in any manner.

Under the Criminal Code Act, arson is recognized as an injury to property and   punishes same as such.

Section 443 of the Criminal Code Act provides thus:

“Any person who willfully sets fire to any of the following things:

1. Any building or structure whatever, whether completed or not;

2. Any vessel, whether completed or not;

3. Any stack of cultivated vegetable produce, or of mineral or vegetable fuel;

4. A mine, or the workings, fittings, or appliances of a mine, is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for life.

Section 444 of the Criminal Code Act provides thus:

“Any person who:

a. Attempts unlawfully to set fire any such thing as is mentioned in section 443 of this Code; or

b. Willfully ad unlawfully sets fire to anything which is so situated that any such  thing as is mentioned in section 443 of this Code is likely to catch fire from it, is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years.

Read Also: Punishment For Driving Without A License In Nigeria

Section 445   of the Criminal Code Act   criminalizes   setting fire to crops and growing plants. It provides thus:

“Any person who willfully and unlawfully sets  fire to any of the following things:

a. A crop of cultivated vegetable produce, whether standing or cut;

b. A crop of hay or grass under cultivation, whether the natural or indigenous  products of  the soil or not ,and whether standing or cut;

c. Any standing  trees, saplings or shrubs, whether indigenous or not, under cultivation, is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years.

Section 446 of the Criminal Code Act criminalizes attempting to set fire to crops, etc. It provides thus:

“ Any person who:

a. Attempts unlawfully to set fire to any such thing as is mentioned in section 445 of this Code; or

b. Willfully  and unlawfully sets fire to anything  which is so situated  that any such thing as is mentioned in sectioned 445 of this Code  is likely to catch fire from it ,is guilty of felony and is liable to imprisonment for seven years.

Arson and Riots

Arson is always a feature of riots which by Section 69 of the Criminal Code Act is described in the following words, “When an unlawful assembly has begun to act in so tumultuous   a manner as to disturb the peace, the assembly is called a riot, and the persons assembled are said to be riotously assembled.”

When in the course of a riot, arson is perpetrated the law will punish the  offence of arson  with imprisonment for life or the number of years prescribed by the Criminal Code Act as well as punish the riot with the punishment prescribed by the Criminal Code Act.

Where the arson results in the death of a person, the offender or the offenders will be liable under a charge of culpable homicide.


a. A misdemeanor is a crime that is not considered to be very serious. It is usually punishable by fine, penalty, forfeiture, or confinement usually for a brief time in a place other than a prison.

b. A felony is a serious crime usually punishable   by imprisonment   for more than a year or by death. Examples include   burglary, arson, rape, and murder.

c. An arsonist is a person who commits the crime of arson

d. By recognizing and criminalizing arson the law recognizes the dangers fire can wrought.

e. Section 443  of the Criminal Code Act declares arson committed on  a building, vessel, mine or stack of cultivated  vegetables a felony and  punishes it with life imprisonment

f. Section 444 criminalizes any attempt at felony as an arson and punishes it with fourteen years imprisonment

g. Section 445 criminalizes arson committed on crops and trees as a felony and punishes it with fourteen years imprisonment.

Read Also: Punishment For Offences Of Ordeal, Witchcraft, Juju, Criminal Charms In Nigeria

Always Remember: 

a. That as a Nigerian citizen under Sections 25,26 or 27 of the 1999 Constitution, your fundamental rights are guaranteed under Sections 33 to 46 of the same Constitution.

b. That the Constitution guarantees you equal rights, obligations, opportunities   and easy accessibility to court under Section 17.

c. That com   works with a team of lawyers to inform  you of  your  rights, obligations and opportunities under the law.







Click here to see the latest Study Abroad Scholarships and Guides
Click here to see the latest Jobs opportunities in Nigeria.
Click here to Join Recharge and Get Paid
Click here to Read Latest School News in Nigeria

Copyright Warning!

We work really hard and put a lot of effort and resources into our content, providing our readers with plagiarism-free articles, original and high-quality texts. Contents on this website may not be copied, republished, reproduced, redistributed either in whole or in part without due permission or acknowledgement. Proper acknowledgement include, but not limited to (a) Proper referencing in the case of usage in research, magazine, brochure, or academic purposes, (b)"FAIR USE" in the case of re-publication on online media. About possible consequences you can read here: What are the consequences of copyright infringement? In an effort to protect our intellectual properties, we may report your website to Google without prior notice and your website be removed from search engines and you may receive a strike. All contents are protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act 1996 (DMCA).

Kenechukwu Obiezu

Kenechukwu Obiezu is a Legal Practitioner and a Content Developer at InfoGuide Nigeria is a team of Resource Persons and Consultants led by Ifiokobong Ibanga. Page maintained by Ifiokobong Ibanga. If you need a personal assistance on this topic, kindly contact us.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button