Punishment for Forgery in Nigeria

We’ll examine “Punishment Forgery Under Nigerian Law” in this article.

In its eagerness and desire to safeguard and secure Nigeria’s continued existence, the law defends and guarantees individual rights and freedoms, but it also recognizes and safeguards the rights of individuals over property. The law also serves as a weapon of social engineering.

punishment for forgery nigeria

In doing so, the law ultimately recognises property crimes and imposes strict punishments on them.

Stealing (Sections 382- 409), Burglary (Sections 410-417), Obtaining by false pretenses (Sections 418- 439), Arson(443-462), Forgery(463-483), and Impersonation are some of the property and contract offenses covered under the Criminal Code Act (484-489).

The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, International Student’s Edition, 7th Edition, pg 584, explains forgery as follows:

“Copying cash, paperwork, and other items in order to defraud individuals.”

Forgery is defined on pg 723 of the Deluxe 9th Version of Black’s Law Dictionary as “the practice of unlawfully producing a fake document or changing a real one for use as if authentic.”

“Forgery denotes fraudulent paperwork, sealing, or other counterfeiting of an item of significance used with the aim of defrauding someone,” according to the website criminal.findlaw.com. The crime of fraud is frequently charged against those who perpetrate forgery.”

According to Wikipedia.org, forgery is “the act of fabricating, modifying, or copying items, data, or paperwork with the goal of misleading people or profiting from the sale of a falsified item.”

One thing is evident from the four definitions above: at the root of forgery is a counterfeit, a copying that is based on deception.

Nigeria’s primary criminal law, the Criminal Code Act, penalizes forgery and similar offenses harshly.

Now we’ll look at the Criminal Code Act, which differs from the Penal Code Act because it covers crimes and their penalties in southern Nigeria.
For the most part, it has been tailored to accommodate local laws in numerous states.

Forgery is defined in Section 465 of the Criminal Code Act as:

  • “A person who makes a false document or writing knowing it to be false ,and with intent that it may in any way be used or acted upon as genuine ,whether in the State or elsewhere ,to the prejudice of any person ,or with intent that any person may, in the belief that it is genuine,be induced to do or refrain from doing any act, whether in the State or elsewhere, is said to forge the document or writing.

 

  • A person who makes a counterfeit seal or mark, or makes an impression of a counterfeit seal knowing the seal to be counterfeit ,or makes a counterfeit representation of the impression of the genuine seal, or makes without lawful authority an impression of a genuine seal ,with intent in either case that the thing so made may in any way be used or acted upon as genuine ,whether in the State or elsewhere ,to the prejudice of any person, or with intent that any person may, in the belief that it is genuine ,be induced to do or refrain from doing any act ,whether in the State or elsewhere, is said to forge the seal or mark.

 

If the counterfeit item is a government stamp, the criminal is subject to life imprisonment under Section 467 (Section 467(1)(a) and Section 467(1)(b)) (b). If the falsified item is stocks, titles, or a registration, the criminal faces a fourteen-year prison sentence.

If the false documents are related to tax or state acts, for example, the criminal faces a fourteen-year prison sentence. If the falsified item includes court stamps, documents, procedures, data, and so on, the criminal faces a seven-year prison sentence.

According to the Criminal Code Act, forgery can result in a sentence of 3 years, 14 years, or life in prison, depending on the item forged.  At this stage, it’s also worth mentioning Section 468 of the Criminal Code Act, which proscribes and punishes the use of fake documents and stamps.

Section 468 reads as follows:

Any person who knowingly and fraudulently utters a false document or writing, or a counterfeit seal, is guilty of an offense of the same kind and is liable to the same punishment as if he had forged the thing in question.

It is immaterial whether a false document, writing, or counterfeit seal was made in Nigeria or elsewhere.

The term “fraudulently” means an intention that the thing in question shall be used or acted upon as genuine, whether in Nigeria or elsewhere, to the prejudice of some person, whether a particular person or not, or that some person whether a particular person, or not, shall, in the belief that the thing in question is genuine, be induced to do or refrain from doing some act, whether in Nigeria or elsewhere.

Read: International Law schools in Canada

The Case of Wagbatsoma v F.R.N[2015] All FWLR(PART 812)1430,

The Lagos Judicial Division of the Court of Appeal conducted a judicial assessment of the offenses of forgery and uttering in this case.

In this case, Walter Wagbatsoma was charged with counterfeiting, uttering, racketeering, and obtaining money by false pretenses under the Criminal Code and the Advanced Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006. He was charged in the High Court of Lagos State on charges of forgery, uttering, racketeering, and acquiring money by false pretenses under the Criminal Code and the Advanced Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act,2006.

In reaching a partial decision in the Court of Appeal, the court stated that the prosecution must demonstrate the following to establish forgery and uttering offenses:

a. that the defendant fabricated or falsified a document;

b. that he was aware of the document’s falsity;

c. that he delivered the aforementioned document to the other party in order for it to be acted upon.

d. that the document was used against him by the other party

Ownership of documents carrying false pretenses is a fact-based offense. In other words, the offence is completed if documents bearing false pretenses as outlined above are discovered in the custody of a person who is not necessarily the writer.

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