Popular Criminal Offences and their Punishment in Nigeria

Crime is certain to happen in every country, and that is why criminal law is put in place to dissuade individuals from committing offences and to penalize those who do them.

Because of this, many offences are much more common among citizens. It has been observed in Nigeria that some crimes are much more prevalent than others.

In this article, we will explore the most common offences in Nigeria, and identify their punishments. This is an essential part of understanding the law since, as legal experts say, “ignorance of law is no excuse.”

Popular Criminal Offences and their Punishment

Here are some of Nigeria’s most popular criminal offences and legal consequences:

Economic crime

This type of crime can take many different forms. The root problem for this category of crime is that it harms a country’s economy – in this case, Nigeria’s – and can sometimes throw the country into an economic downturn.

Some examples of economic crime include tax fraud, oil theft and pipeline vandalism.

The punishment for economic crime is at least seven years imprisonment with or without the option of a fine.

Financial crime

Financial crime is an unlawful use of money or financial assets or tools, such as checks, loans, bank transfers, etc. Some examples of this type of crime include money laundering, counterfeit cheques, or bank fraud.

The punishment for financial crime is at least fourteen years imprisonment with or without the option of a fine.

Advance Fee Fraud (419)

In this type of fraud, a scammer or fraudster tricks a victim into paying an upfront fee on a planned business agreement, relationship, marriage, contract, or other transaction.

The punishment for advance fee fraud is similar to financial crime which is at least fourteen years imprisonment with or without the option of a fine.


Terrorism encompasses a wide range of activities, but it is defined as the act of inciting fear and violence in the general populace with the goal of terrifying them, usually for religious or political aims.

In Nigeria, terrorism is punishable by life imprisonment or, if murder is committed, then a death sentence.

Cyber Crime

Cybercrime is the utilization of computers and other digital infrastructure or gadgets for criminal purposes. For this reason, internet cafes must file with the EFCC in order for the agency to oversee their operations and impose regulatory regulations that prohibit internet fraud.

Cybercrime is punishable by a fine of ten million naira or five years in prison.


This is a form of non-consensual sexual intercourse in which the victim is violated through the use of violence. Predatory sexual abuse is committed mostly by men against women.

The growing rape culture in Nigeria can be explained by the hostility, moral depravity, ethical poverty, greed, rampant immorality, and dishonesty that has taken root in the country over the years.

Rape in Nigeria is punished with life imprisonment.

Brutality, abuse of power and violent behaviour by the Nigerian Police

Nigerian police are known to show outrageous violence and aggression. This has necessitated survival tactics and has made Nigerian terrain dangerous especially for the youths.

There are no measures or checks against police brutality or harassment. Men of the Nigerian police murder innocent citizens, tagging them as armed robbers in order to disguise their crimes.

Punishment for police brutality: Imprisonment lasting three years.

Bribery and corruption

Bribery is a criminal offence that refers to offering something, often money, in order to acquire an advantage unlawfully. Corruption, on the other hand, is when a person abuses a position of responsibility or authority in order to obtain an unfair advantage.

Punishment for bribery and corruption: The offender is sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Read: Dark Web and the Liberalization of Crime In the Internet’s Underworld

Highway Robbery / Armed Robbery

This crime is prevalent in Nigeria. It is a creeping evil, spreading to other Nigerian cities.

If a person is convicted of robbery, the sentence is 7 years in jail with or without an option of a fine.

Violent crimes will be prosecuted in addition to any associated offences.


Banditry is carried out by criminal organizations that are mostly made up of gangsters. They engage in violent criminal activity, typically by using threats or using violence.

A bandit is an individual or a group who practices banditry and, usually, engages in other offences such as kidnapping, theft, and homicide.

There is no criminal law that punishes ‘banditry’. Instead, those caught are prosecuted based on associated offences.


Kidnapping is referred to as the abduction and unlawful confining of someone against his or her will.

The punishment for kidnapping is life imprisonment.

Three Solutions to Curbing the Rising Crime in Nigeria

Read: Full List of Inspectors General of Police in Nigeria From 1964 Till Date

Here are five solutions that can help tackle the growing crime rates in Nigeria:

Collaborate with Relevant Public Agencies

In order to decrease the likelihood of crime in Nigeria, it is necessary to cooperate with key state agencies that could help in controlling the rise in criminal activity in the country.

These agencies should be present on the ground to assist in the management of criminal matters in society.

Involve youth in entrepreneurial activities.

It is believed that an idle person is a devil’s workshop; therefore, it is necessary to keep young people involved in meaningful and productive activities.

Youths in the community should engage in beneficial activities in their free time, such as cultural activities, education programs, part-time employment, outreach programs, and so on.

Organize a neighbourhood patrol

You should be concerned about your security. People can establish what is called “neighbourhood patrol” in your area to keep an eye on your surroundings.

There is a team called “community watch” that creates such a group and collaborates with the police. Also, remember that lighting your streets, houses, and even your street can deter criminals.

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