Section 370-390 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act

Section 370-390 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act

Section 370 to 390 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act is under Chapter 32 (Offences relating to marriage and parental rights and duties), Chapter 33 (Defamation), and Chapter 34 (Stealing) of the Code.

CHAPTER 32 – Offences relating to marriage and parental rights and duties

Section 370 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act

Bigamy

Any person who, having a husband or wife living, marries in any case in which such marriage is void by
reason of its taking place during the life of such husband or wife, is guilty of a felony and is liable to
imprisonment for seven years.
This section of this Code does not extend to any person whose marriage with such husband or wife has
been dissolved or declared void by a court of competent jurisdiction, nor to any person who contracts a
marriage during the life of a former husband or wife, if such husband or wife, at the time of the
subsequent marriage, shall have been absent from such person for the space of seven years, and shall
not have been heard of by such person as being alive within that time.

Section 371 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act

Child‐stealing

Any person who, with intent to deprive any parent, guardian or other person who has the lawful care or
charge of a child under the age of twelve years, of the possession of such child, or with intent to steal
any article upon or about the person of any such child‐
(1) forcibly or fraudulently takes or entices away, or detains the child; or
(2) receives or harbours the child, knowing it to have been so taken or enticed away or detained,
is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years.
It is a defence to a charge of any of the offences defined in this section of this Code to prove t
hat the accused person claimed in good faith a right to the possession of the child, or, in the
case of an illegitimate child, is its mother or claimed to be its father.

Section 372 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act

Desertion of children

Any person who being the parent, guardian or other person having the lawful care or charge of a child
under the age of twelve years, and being able to maintain such child, wilfully and without lawful or
reasonable cause deserts the child and leaves it without means of support, is guilty of a misdemeanor
and is liable to imprisonment for one year.

CHAPTER 33 – Defamation

Section 373 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act

Definition of defamatory matter

Defamatory matter is matter likely to injure the reputation of any person by exposing him to hatred,
contempt, or ridicule, or likely to damage any person in his profession or trade by any injury to his
reputation.
Such matter may be expressed in spoken words or in any audible sounds, or in words legibly marked on
any substance whatever, or by any sign or object signifying such matter otherwise than by words, and
may be expressed either directly or by insinuation or irony.
It is immaterial whether at the time of the publication of the defamatory matter, the person concerning
whom such matter is published is living or dead:
Provided that no prosecution for the publication of defamatory matter concerning a dead
person shall be instituted without the consent of the Attorney‐General of the Federation.

Section 374 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act

Definition of publication

(1) For the purposes of this Code, the publication of defamatory matter is‐
(a) in the case of spoken words or audible sounds, the speaking of such words or the making of
such sounds in the hearing of the person defamed or any other person;
(b) in other cases, the exhibiting of it in public, or causing it to be read or seen, or showing or
delivering it, or causing it to be shown or delivered, with intent that it may be read or seen by
the person defamed or by any other person.
(2) Sounds where recorded shall, if defamatory, be deemed to be published if reproduced in any place
to the hearing of persons other than the person causing it to be reproduced.
(3) In this section‐
“recorded” means sounds collected or stored by means of tape, disc, cylinder or other means
whatsoever, where the sounds are capable of being reproduced or are intended for reproduction by
electrical or mechanical means at any time or from time to time thereafter, and includes the matrix, and
cognate expressions shall have the like meaning;
“sound” includes speech and mere noise.

Section 375 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act

Publication of defamatory matter

Subject to the provisions of this Chapter, any person who publishes any defamatory matter, is guilty of a
misdemeanor and is liable to imprisonment for one year; and any person who publishes any defamatory
matter knowing it to be false, is liable to imprisonment for two years.

Section 376 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act

Publishing defamatory matter with intent to extort

Any person who publishes, or threatens to publish, or offers to abstain from publishing, or offers to
prevent the publication of defamatory matter, with intent to extort money or other property, or with
intent to induce any person to give, confer, procure, or attempt to procure, to, upon, or for, any person,
any property or benefit of any kind, is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for seven years.
The offender cannot be arrested without warrant.

Section 377 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act

Publication of truth for public benefit

The publication of defamatory matter is not an offence if the publication is, at the time it is made, for
the public benefit and if the defamatory matter is true.

Section 378 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act

Cases in which publication is absolutely privileged

The publication of defamatory matter is absolutely privileged, and no person is criminally liable in
respect thereof, in the following cases[
L.N. 257 of 1959. L.N. 112 of 1964. 1967 No. 27.]
(1) if the matter is published by the President, Minister or a Governor or by order of the President,
Minister or a Governor in any official document, Gazette or proceedings; or
(2) if the publication is made in a petition to the President, Minister, or a Governor; or
(3) if the publication takes place in proceedings held before or under the authority of any court, or
in any inquiry held under the authority of any Act, law, statute, or order, or under the authority
of the President, Minister, or a Governor; or
(4) if the publication takes place in an official report made by a person appointed to hold an inquiry
under the authority of any Act, law, statute, or Order in Council, or of the President, Minister, or
a Governor; or
(5) if the matter is published concerning a person subject to military discipline for the time being,
and relates to his conduct as a person subject to such discipline, and is published by some
person having authority over him in respect of such conduct, and to some person having
authority over him in respect of such conduct.
[L.N. 257 of 1959. L.N. 112 of 1964. 1967 No. 19. 1967 No. 27.]

SEE ALSO  Section 391-400 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act

Section 379 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act

Cases in which publication is conditionally privileged

The publication of defamatory matter is conditionally privileged, and no person is criminally liable in
respect thereof, in the following cases‐
(1) if the defamatory matter consists of an extract from, or an abstract of, a petition to, or a
Gazette or document published by or under the authority of, the President or a Governor of a State, or a
Minister, and the publication is made without ill‐will to the person defamed; or
(2) if the defamatory matter constitutes, in whole or in part, a fair report, for the information of
the public, of any public proceeding of any court, whether preliminary or final; or of any public
proceeding of any body, constituted, or authorised to hold such proceeding by any Act, law, statute or
order; or of any public meeting so far as the public is concerned in the matter published; if in every such
case the publication is made without ill‐will to the person defamed; or
(3) if the publication is for the information of the public at the request of any government
department or peace officer, or if the defamatory matter is any notice or report issued by such
department or officer, for the information of the public, and if in every such case the publication is made
without ill‐will to the person defamed; or
(4) if the defamatory matter consists of fair comment either on any matter the publication of
which, or on any report which, is hereinbefore in the preceding or this section referred to; or

(5) if the defamatory matter consists of fair comment upon the public conduct of any person in
public affairs, or upon the public conduct of any person employed in the public service in the discharge
of his public duties, or upon the character of any of such persons so far as it appears by such conduct; or
(6) if the defamatory matter consists of fair comment on any published book or other literary
production, or any composition or work of art, or performance publicly exhibited, or any other
communication made to the public on any subject; or of the character of the author of such book,
production, composition, work of art, or the person exhibiting such performance, so far as their
characters may appear therefrom respectively; or
(7) if the publication is in good faith for the purpose of seeking remedy or redress for any private
or public wrong or grievance from a person who has, or is reasonably believed by the person publishing
to have, the right to remedy or redress such wrong or grievance; or
(8) if the publication is made in good faith by a person having any lawful authority over another,
and is made by him in the course of a censure passed by him on the conduct of that other, in matters to
which such lawful authority relates; or
(9) if the publication is made on the invitation or challenge of the person defamed; or
(10) if the publication is made in order to answer or refute some other defamatory matter
published by the person defamed, concerning the person making the publication or some other person;
or

(11) if the defamatory matter constitutes an answer to inquiries made of the person publishing
it, relating to some subject as to which the person by whom or on whose behalf the inquiry is made, has,
or on reasonable grounds is believed by the person publishing to have, an interest in knowing the truth,
and if the publication is made in good faith for the purpose of giving information in respect of that
matter to that person; or

(12) if the defamatory matter constitutes information given to the person to whom the
defamatory matter is published, with respect to some subject as to which he has, or is on reasonable
grounds believed to have, such an interest in knowing the truth, as to make the conduct of the person
giving the information reasonable in the circumstances:
Provided that as regards paragraphs (7), (8), (9), (10) and (11) of this section, the person making
the publication honestly believes the matter published to be true, the matter published is relevant to
the matters the existence of which may excuse the publication of defamatory matter, and the manner
and extent of the publication do not exceed what is reasonably sufficient for the occasion; and as
regards paragraphs (12) that the defamatory matter is relevant to the subject therein mentioned, and
that it is either true, or is made without ill‐will to the person defamed and in the honest belief, on
reasonable grounds, that it is true.

Section 380 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act

Publication in a periodical

(1) In this section and section 381 of this Code, the term “periodical” includes any newspaper,
review, magazine, or other writing or print, published periodically.
(2) The criminal responsibility of the proprietor, editor, or publisher, of any periodical for the
publication of any defamatory matter contained therein, may be rebutted by proof that such publication
took place without his knowledge and without negligence on his part.

Section 381 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act

Protection of innocent sellers of books and newspapers

The sale by any person of any book, pamphlet, or other printed or written matter, or of any number or
part of any periodical, is not a publication thereof for the purposes of this Chapter, unless such person
knows that such book, pamphlet, printed or written matter, or number or part, contains defamatory
matter; or, in the case of any part or number of any periodical, that such periodical habitually contains
defamatory matter.

CHAPTER 34 – Stealing

Section 382 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act

Things capable of being stolen

Every inanimate thing whatever which is the property of any person, and which is movable, is capable of
being stolen.
Every inanimate thing which is the property of any person, and which is capable of being made movable,
is capable of being stolen as soon as it becomes movable, although it is made movable in order to steal
it.
Every tame animal, whether tame by nature or wild by nature and tamed, which is the property of any
person, is capable of being stolen: but tame pigeons are not capable of being stolen except while they
are in a pigeon‐house or on their owner’s land.
A thing in action is capable of being stolen.
Animals wild by nature, of a kind which is not ordinarily found in a condition of natural liberty in Nigeria,
which are the property of any person, and which are usually kept in a state of confinement, are capable
of being stolen, whether they are actually in confinement or have escaped from confinement.
[1966 No. 84.]
Animals wild by nature, of a kind which is ordinarily found in a condition of natural liberty in Nigeria,
which are the property of any person, are capable of being stolen while they are in confinement and
while they are being actually pursued after escaping from confinement, but not at any other time.
An animal wild by nature is deemed to be in a state of confinement so long as it is in a den, cage, sty,
tank, or other small enclosure, or is otherwise so placed that it cannot escape and that its owner can
take possession of it at pleasure.
An ostrich on an enclosed ostrich farm is capable of being stolen. The term “animal” includes any living
creature other than mankind.
Wild animals in the enjoyment of their natural liberty are not capable of being stolen, but their dead
bodies are capable of being stolen.
Everything produced by or forming part of the body of an animal capable of being stolen is capable of
being stolen.

SEE ALSO  Section 176-189 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act

Section 383 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act

Definition of stealing

(1) A person who fraudulently takes anything capable of being stolen, or fraudulently converts
to his own use or to the use of any other person anything capable of being stolen, is said to steal that
thing.
(2) A person who takes or converts anything capable of being stolen IS deemed to do so
fraudulently If he does so with any of the following intents‐
(a) an intent permanently to deprive the owner of the thing of it;
(b) an intent permanently to deprive any person who has any special property in the thing
of such property;
(c) an intent to use the thing as a pledge or security;
(d) an intent to part with it on a condition as to its return which the person taking or
converting it may be unable to perform;
(e) an intent to deal with it in such a manner that it cannot be returned in the condition in
which it was at the time of the taking or conversion;
(f) in the case of money, an intent to use it at the will of the person who takes or converts
it, although he may intend afterwards to repay the amount to the owner.
The term “special property” includes any charge or lien upon the thing in question, and any right arising
from or dependent upon holding possession of the thing in question, whether by the person entitled to
such right or by some other person for his benefit.
(3) The taking or conversion may be fraudulent, although it is effected without secrecy or
attempts at concealment.
(4) In the case of conversion, it is immaterial whether the thing converted is taken for the
purpose of conversion, or whether it is at the time of the conversion in the possession of the person
who converts it. It is also immaterial that the person who converts the property is the holder of a power
of attorney for the disposition of it, or is otherwise authorised to dispose of the property.
(5) When a thing converted has been lost by the owner and found by the person who converts
it, the conversion is not deemed to be fraudulent if at the time of the conversion the person taking or
converting the thing does not know who is the owner, and believes on reasonable grounds that the
owner cannot be discovered.
(6) A person shall not be deemed to take a thing unless he moved the thing or causes it to move.

Section 384 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act

Special cases

(1) When a factor or agent pledges or gives a lien on any goods or documents of title to goods
entrusted to him for the purpose of sale or otherwise for any sum of money not greater than the
amount due to him from his principal at the time of pledging or giving the lien, together with the
amount of any bill of exchange or promissory note accepted or made by him for or on account of his
principal, such dealing with the goods or document of title is not deemed to be stealing.
(2) When a servant, contrary to his master’s orders, takes from his possession any food in order
that it may be given to an animal belonging to or in the possession of his master, such taking is not
deemed to be stealing.

Section 385 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act

Funds, etc., held under direction

When a person receives, either alone or jointly with another person, any money or valuable security or a
power of attorney for the sale, mortgage, pledge, or other disposition, of any property, whether capable
of being stolen or not, with a direction in either case that such money or any part thereof, or any other
money received in exchange for it, or any part thereof, or the proceeds or any part of the proceeds of
such security, or of such security, or of such mortgage, pledge, or other disposition, shall be applied to
any purpose or paid to any person specified in the direction, such money and proceeds are deemed to
be the property of the person from whom the money, security or power of attorney, was received until
the direction has been complied with:
Provided that if the person receiving the money, security, or power of attorney, and the person from
whom he receives it, ordinarily deal with each other on such terms that in the absence of any special
direction all money paid to the former on account of the latter would be properly treated as an item in a
debtor and creditor account between them, the former cannot be charged with stealing the money or
any proceeds unless the direction is in writing.

Section 386 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act

Funds, etc., received by agents for sale

When a person receives, either alone or jointly with another person, any property from another on
terms authorising or requiring him to sell it or otherwise dispose of it, and requiring him to pay or
account for the proceeds of the property, or any part of such proceeds, or to deliver anything received
in exchange of the property, to the person from whom it is received, or some other person, then the
proceeds of the property, and anything so received in exchange for it, are deemed to be the property of
the person from whom the property was so received, until they have been disposed of in accordance
with the terms on which the property was received, unless it is a part of those terms that the proceeds,
if any, shall form an item in a debtor and creditor account between him and the person to whom he is to
pay them or account for them, and that the relation of debtor and creditor only shall exist between
them in respect thereof.

Section 387 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act

Money received for another

When a person receives, either alone or jointly with another person, any money on behalf of another,
the money is deemed to be the property of the person on whose behalf it is received, unless the money
is received on the terms that it shall form an item in a debtor and creditor account, and that the relation
of debtor and creditor only shall exist between the parties in respect of it.

SEE ALSO  Section 1-6 Of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act

Section 388 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act

Stealing by persons having an interest in the thing stolen

When any person takes or converts anything capable of being stolen, in such circumstances as would
otherwise amount to stealing, it is immaterial that he himself has a special property or interest therein
or that he himself is the owner of the thing taken or converted subject to some special property or
interest of some other person therein; or that he is lessee of the thing, or that he himself is one of two
or more joint owners of the thing; or that he is a director or officer of a corporation or company or
society who are the owners of it.

Section 389 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act

Husband and wife

A person who, while a man and his wife are living together, procures either of them to deal with
anything which is, to his knowledge, the property of the other in a manner which would be stealing, if
they were not married, is deemed to have stolen the thing, and may be charged with stealing it.

Section 390 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act

Punishment of stealing

Any person who steals anything capable of being stolen, is guilty of a felony and is liable, if no other
punishment is provided, to imprisonment for three years.
Punishment in special cases
Stealing wills
(1) If the thing stolen is a testamentary instrument, whether the testator is living or dead, the
offender is liable to imprisonment for life.
Stealing postal matter, etc.
(2) If the thing stolen is a postal matter or any chattel, money, or valuable security, contained in
any postal matter, the offender is liable to imprisonment for life.
Stealing cattle
(3) If the thing stolen is any of the things following, that it to say: a horse, mare, gelding, ass,
mule, camel, bull, cow, ox, ram, ewe, wether, goat or pig, or the young of any such animal, the offender
is liable on conviction to pay a fine of two hundred naira or to imprisonment for two years.
Stealing from the person; stealing goods in transit, etc.
(4) If the offence is committed in any of the following circumstances‐
(a) if the thing is stolen from the person of another;
(b) if the thing is stolen in a dwelling‐house, and its value exceeds ten naira, or the offender
at or immediately before or after the time of stealing uses or threatens to use violence
to any person in the dwelling‐house;
(c) if the thing is stolen from any kind of vessel or vehicle or place of deposit used for the
conveyance or custody of goods in transit from one place to another;
(d) if the thing stolen is attached to or forms part of a railway;
(e) if the thing is stolen from a vessel which is in distress or wrecked or stranded;
(f) if the thing is stolen from a public office in which it is deposited or kept;
(g) if the offender, in order to commit the offence, opens any locked room, box, or other
receptacle, by means of a key or other instrument,
the offender is liable to imprisonment for seven years.
Stealing by persons in public service
(5) If the offender is a person employed in the public service and the thing stolen is the property
of the State, or came into the possession of the offender by virtue of his employment, he is liable to
imprisonment for seven years.
Stealing by clerks and servants
(6) If the offender is a clerk or servant and the thing stolen is the property of his employer or
came into the possession of the offender on account of his employer, he is liable to imprisonment for
seven years.
Stealing by directors or officers of companies
(7) If the offender is a director or officer of a corporation or company, and the thing stolen is the
property of the corporation or company, he is liable to imprisonment for seven years.
Stealing by agents, etc.
(8) If the thing stolen is any of the following things‐
(a) property which has been received by the offender with a power of attorney for the
disposition thereof;
(b) property which has been entrusted to the offender either alone or jointly with any other
person for him to retain in safe custody or to apply, pay or deliver for any purpose or to
any person the same or any part thereof or any proceeds thereof;
(c) property which has been received by the offender either alone or jointly with any other
person for or on account of any other person;
(d) the whole or part of the proceeds of any valuable security which has been received by
the offender with a direction that the proceeds thereof should be applied to any
purpose or paid to any person specified in the direction;
(e) the whole or part of the proceeds arising from any disposition of any property which
have been received by the offender by virtue of a power of attorney for such
disposition, such
power of attorney having been received by the offender with a direction that such proceeds should be
applied to any purpose or paid to any person specified in the direction,
the offender is liable to imprisonment for seven years.

Stealing property of value of N1,000
(9) If the thing stolen is of the value of one thousand naira or upwards, the offender is liable to
imprisonment for seven years.

Stealing by tenants or lodgers
(10) If the thing stolen is a fixture or chattel let to the offender to be used by him with a house
or lodging, and its value exceeds ten naira, he is liable to imprisonment for seven years.
(10A) If the thing stolen is a motor vehicle or motor cycle the offender shall upon conviction be
sentenced to imprisonment for not less than five years but not more than seven years without the
option of a fine.
Stealing after previous conviction
(11) If the offender, before committing the offence, has been convicted of any of the felonies or
misdemeanors defined in this division of this Part of this Code, he is liable to imprisonment for seven
years.


Credit: https://lawsofnigeria.placng.org/laws/C38.pdf

Published by

Inioluwa Olaposi

Hi, there. I'm Inioluwa, founder of LawHub NG. I study Law at Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. And I am interested in entrepreneurship and human development. Contact me at Inioluwa@lawhub.com.ng.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.