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Punishment For Rape In Nigeria

Punishment for Rape in Nigeria – Here we will review the Crime of Rape:  Consequences and Punishment as stipulated in the Nigerian Criminal Law.

Rape victimizes all of us. In many ugly ways, rape makes all of us victims by constituting a most vicious attack on   women, a group   so central to identity and   survival of any society that must strive and thrive.

In many ways, rape is the most gruesome attack on human dignity. This dignity, which the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As amended) so lavishly guarantees and protects as an inalienable human right in Section 34 , and its defense stands critical to the survival of any society.

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

Any infraction of this dignity is a gross violation  of the society as a whole. It makes all of us victims. That is what rape does.

Rape also seeks to perpetuate a pervasive sense of insecurity, for where rape holds firm rein, women feel unsafe and degraded.

Men, invariably, feel the same too. It is such state of insecurity that the law exists to prevent. To be sure it is alive to the challenges posed daily by rapists and pedophiles, the law harshly punishes rape and all its appendages.

In doing this, it seeks to preserve and protect the dignity and sanity of every society where it rules. It also seeks to create a safe space for women who are already victims of many forms of discrimination.

Rape Defined

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

“The   crime of forcing somebody   to have sex with  you, especially using violence.”

The Deluxe Ninth Edition of the Black`s Law Dictionary, at page 1374   defines “Rape   ” as:

At common law, unlawful sexual   intercourse committed  by a man with  a woman  not his wife through  force and against her will.

The common law crime of rape required at least a slight penetration of the penis into the vagina. Also at common law husband could not be convicted of raping his wife. ”

 The New International Webster`s Comprehensive Dictionary of the English Language (Deluxe Encyclopedic Edition) at page   1045 defines “rape” thus:

The Act of a man who has sexual   intercourse   with a woman against her will. Or  any unlawful  sexual connection by force or threat.”

As can be seen from the above definitions, rape involves sex against   a person`s will.

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The  Law Criminalizes Rape

Recognizing the danger posed by rape to individuals and the society as a whole, Nigerian laws criminalize rape. Nigerian courts frown most severely at rape.

Nigeria`s premier criminal legislation, the Criminal Code Act, mincing no words in defining what rape is an reserving some of it harshest penalties for it.

Section 357 of the Criminal Code Act defines rape. It provides that:

“Any person who   has unlawful carnal  knowledge of a woman or girl, without her consent,or with her consent, if the consent   is obtained by force  or by means of threat or intimidation of any kind, or by fear of harm, or by means of false and fraudulent misrepresentation as to the nature of the act,or, in the case of a married woman, by personating her husband, is guilty of an offence which is called rape.”

Section 358 of the Criminal Code Act punishes “rape”. It provides thus:

“Any person who commits the offence of rape is liable to imprisonment for life, with   or without caning.”

Section 359 of the Criminal Code Act   punishes any attempt to commit rape. It provides thus:

“Any person   who attempts to commit the offence of rape is guilty of a felony,and is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years, with or without caning.”

On its part, the Penal Code Act criminalizes and penalizes the offence of rape. Section 282 of the Penal Code Act provides thus:

1. A man is said to commit rape,who except in the case referred to in subsection(2) of this section,has sexual intercourse with a woman in any of the following circumstances –

2. Against her will;

3. Without her consent

4. With her consent,when her consent has been obtained by putting her in fear of death or of hurt;

5. With her consent,when the man knows that he is not her husband and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she believes herself to be lawfully married;

6. With or without her consent, when she is under fourteen years of age or of unsound mind;

7. Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife is not rape, if she has attained to puberty.

8. Explanation. Mere penetration is sufficient to constitute the sexual intercourse necessary to the offence of rape.”

Section 283 punishes rape.  It provides thus:

“Whoever commits rape , shall be punished with imprisonment   for life or for any less term and shall be liable to fine.

It is clear from the above that both the Criminal   Code Act and the Penal Code Act punishes rape with life imprisonment. While the Penal Code Act makes allowances for a lesser   term, the Criminal    Code makes no such allowances.”

The offen:ce of   rape examined in court.

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Isa v Kano State [2016] All FWLR(Pt.822)1773 S.C.

In this case, the appellant was alleged to have pleaded with the prosecutrix, a  girl of eight(8) years at the time of the incident, who he met on the way, to buy water for him, and when she obliged him, he dragged her  into an uncompleted building and raped her. She shouted and was rescued by a passerby.

The appellant was subsequently arrested and  arraigned in the  High Court of Kano State on a one-count charge of rape punishable under section 283  of the Penal Code.

The High Court of Kano State found him guilty and sentenced him to 10 years imprisonment. The court also imposed a fine of 10,000 naira on the appellant and in default of which he was to serve an additional   one(1) year jail term.

The appellant appealed without success to the court of appeal. A further appeal to the supreme court careened into  failure. The supreme court held that:

“Rape is an unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman or girl without her consent or with   her consent if  the consent is obtained by force  or means of threat or intimidation of any kind or by fear of harm, or by means of false or fraudulent representation as to the nature of the of the act  or in the case of a married woman by personating her husband.

It is an unlawful carnal knowledge   or non-consensual sex; that is, penetration   without consent. The prosecution   has the burden and duty to prove that the accused person is guilty of the following ingredients in order to sustain the conviction of the offence of rape:

1. That the accused had sexual intercourse with the prosecutrix ;

2. That the act of sexual intercourse was done without her consent  or that the consent was obtained  by fraud, force, threat , intimidation, deceit or impersonation;

3. That the prosecutrix   was not the wife of the accused;

4. That the accused had the mens rea,the intention to have sexual intercourse with the prosecutrix without her consent or that the accused acted recklessly not caring whther the prosecutrix  consented or not.

5. That there was penetration.

6. The court also held that “ the important  and essential ingredient of the offence is penetration. Sexual intercourse is deemed complete upon proof of penetration of the penis into the vagina. Emission is not a necessary requirement.

Any or even the slightest penetration will be sufficient   to constitute the act of intercourse. Thus, where penetration   is proved but   not of such depth  as to injure the hymen, it will be sufficient  to constitute the crime of rape.

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Always Remember:

1. 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.

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

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

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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.

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