Punishment for Corruption under Nigerian Law – Offences of Corruption and Abuse of Office: Definition, Consequences, Punishment.
If there is one thing a multi-ethnic and multi-religious Nigeria agrees on, it is that corruption has torn the structure of the country asunder.
In the many ways it manifests, it leaves a painful trail of failure: failure of public promises, failure of public trust, failure of public institutions, failure of public policies, failure of public infrastructure to name but a few.
The effects have been high and hard and the net effect is that Nigeria has not taken its place in the pantheon of developed countries in spite of the its cornucopia of human and natural resources.
Closely tied to the hydra-headed monster of corruption is the spectre of abuse of office. When a public office is abused as a perverse alternative to its efficacious use for the good of the public, its effects are deleterious and generational. This is because when a public office is abused its ugly effects are reserved even for posterity.
To be sure in spite of the rampant glee with which they rampage and ravage public institutions, in spite of the recklessness with which they ravish public trust, the twin monsters of corruption and abuse of office are enemies of the law. The law proscribes them in their entirety and always seeks to punish them.
The law unfailingly maintains this attitude when confronting these monsters in spite of the fact that they are high stake offences mostly perpetrated by powerful individuals who tread the corridors of power.
Corruption and Abuse of Office defined
The 7th Edition of the Oxford Advanced Learner `s Dictionary, International Student`s Edition, at page 329, defines “Corruption” thus:
“Dishonest or illegal behavior, especially people in authority.”
The Deluxe Ninth Edition of the Black`s Law Dictionary, at page 397 defines “Corruption ” as:
“The act of doing something with an intent to give some advantage inconsistent with official duty and the rights of others ; a fiduciary`s or official`s use of a station or office to procure some benefit either personally or from someone else, contrary to the rights of others.”
The New International Webster`s Comprehensive Dictionary of the English Language (Deluxe Encyclopedic Edition) at page 293 defines “Corruption” thus:
“The act of corrupting or the state of being corrupted. A corrupting influence as bribery. ”
The Deluxe Ninth Edition of the Black`s Law Dictionary, at page 10 defines “Abuse” as:
“A departure from legal or reasonable use; misuse.”
Wikipedia chimes in with a description of what “abuse of power” which is synonymous with “abuse of office” is. It says:
“Abuse of power in the form of ‘malfeasance in office” or ‘official misconduct’ done in an official capacity which affects the performance of official duties. Malfeasance is often grounds for a cause removal of an elected official by statute or recall election.”
Corruption strangles a nation and in response, in defiance, the law ceaselessly seeks to excise it like the malignant cancer that it is.
The Criminal Code Act criminalizes corruption
In keeping with the constitutional requirement that an offence must be criminalized and penalized in a written law before anybody can be punished for it, Nigeria apex criminal legislation the Criminal Code Act forbids corruption and abuse of office.
Section 98 of the Criminal Code Act provides thus:
a. Any public official who –
b. Corruptly asks for, receives or obtains any property or benefit of any kind for himself or any other person; or
c. Corruptly agrees or attempts to receive or obtain any property or benefit of any kind for himself or any other person,
On account of:
a. Anything already done or omitted, or any favour or disfavor already shown to any person, by himself in the discharge of his official duties or in relation to any matter connected with the functions, affairs or business of a government department, public body ,or other organization or institution in which he is serving as a public official; or
b. Anything to be afterwards done or omitted, or any favour ; or disfavor to be afterwards shown to any person, by himself in the discharge of his official duties or in relation to any such matter as aforesaid, is guilty of the felony of official corruption and liable to imprisonment for seven years.
Section 98A of the Criminal Code Act imperils those who give bribes on account of actions of public officials.
Section 98A provides thus:
Any person who:
Corruptly gives, confers or procures any property or benefit of any kind to, on or for a public official or to, on or for any other person; or
Corruptly promises or offers to give or confer or to procure or attempt to procure any property or benefit of any kind to, on or for a public official as is mentioned in section 98(1) (i) or (ii) of this Code, is guilty of the felony of official corruption and is liable to imprisonment for seven years
If in any proceedings for an offence under this section of this Code it is proved that any property or benefit of any kind, or any promise thereof, was given to a public official, or to some other person at the instance of a public official, by a person-
Holding, or seeking to obtain, a contract, licence or permit from a government department, public body or other organization or institution in which that public official is serving as such; or
Concerned or likely to be concerned ,in any proceeding or business transacted, pending or likely to be transacted before or by that public official or a government department, public body or other organization or institution in which that public official is serving as such or by or from any person acting on behalf of or related to such a person, the property, benefit or promise shall, unless the contrary is proved ,be deemed to have been given corruptly on account of such a past or future act, omission, favour or disfavor as is mentioned in section 98(1) (I ) or (ii) of this Code.
Section 98B of the Criminal Code Act stipulates a 7-year jail term for any one who invites bribes on account of actions of public official.
Section 99 of the Act proscribes “Extortion by public officers” as a felony and slams a 3-year jail term on it.
Section 101 of the Act criminalizes some instances when public officers are interested in contract. It declares it a felony and punishes it with up to 3-year imprisonment.
Section 103 punishes “False claims by officials” as a felony and prescribes a three year jail term for it.
Read Also: Punishment For Forgery Under Nigerian Law
The Criminal Code Act criminalizes abuse of office.
The Criminal Code Act further prescribes instances when a public official can be said to have abused his office.
Section 104 of the Criminal Code Act provides thus:
“Any person who, being employed in the public service, does or directs to be done in abuse of the authority of his office, any arbitrary act or prejudicial to the rights of another, is guilty of a misdemeanor and is liable to imprisonment for two years.
If the act is done or directed to be done for purposes of gain he is guilty of a felony, as is liable to imprisonment for three years.
The offender cannot be arrested without warrant.
A prosecution for any offence under this or any of the last three preceding sections shall not be instituted except by or with the consent of a law officer.
Section 105 punishes an issuance of a false certificates by public officers as a felony and punishes it with a three year imprisonment.
Section 106 punishes anybody who administers an extra-judicial oath without authority with imprisonment for one year.
Section 107 denounces “False assumption of authority” as a felony and punishes it with imprisonment for up to three years.
Section 108 punishes anyone who personates public officers as a felon and punishes it with imprisonment for three years.
a. 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.
b. Official corruption is a felony punishable by a 7-year jail imprisonment- Section 98 of the Criminal Code Act.
c. Giving bribes to public officials is part of official corruption and it is punishable with 7 years imprisonment.
d. Section 98A forbids anyone from giving any property or benefit or the likes to any public official to influence some favour.
e. Under Section 99 of the Criminal Code Act, extortion by a public official is a felony which attracts a 3-year jail term.
f. By Section 104 of the Criminal Code Act, abuse of office is a felony and is punishable with a 3-year imprisonment.
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.
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