Section 1 of the Criminal Code Act in Nigeria. Interpretation

(1) In this Code, unless the context otherwise requires‐

"brothel" means any premises or room or set of rooms in any premises kept for purposes of prostitution;

"Christian marriage" means a marriage which is recognised by the law of the place where it is contracted as the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others;

"clerk" and "servant" include any person employed for any purpose as or in the capacity of a clerk, or servant, or as a collector of money, although temporarily only, or although employed also by other persons than the person alleged to be his employer, or although employed to pay as well as receive money, and any person employed as or in the capacity of a commission agent for the collection or disbursement of money or in any similar capacity, although he has no authority from his employer to receive money or other property on his account;

"company" means an incorporated company;

"court", "a court", "the court", includes‐

(a) the High Court and the Chief Judge and other Judges of the High Court;

(b) a magistrate being engaged in any judicial act or proceeding or inquiry;

(c) an administrative officer being engaged in any judicial act or proceeding or inquiry;

(d) the Federal High Court and the Chief Judge and other Judges of that Court;

(e) the Court of Appeal and the President and the Justices thereof sitting together or separately;

(f) the Supreme Court, and the Justices thereof sitting together or separately;

"criminally responsible" means liable to punishment as for an offence; "criminal responsibility" means liability to punishment as for an offence; "dangerous harm" means harm endangering life;

"dwelling‐house" includes any building or structure, or part of a building or structure, which is for the time being kept by the owner or occupier for the residence therein of himself, his family, or servants, or any of them: it is immaterial that it is, from time to time, uninhabited:

A building or structure adjacent to, and occupied with, a dwelling‐house is deemed to be part of the dwelling‐house if there is a communication between such building or structure and the dwelling‐house, either immediate or by means of a covered and enclosed passage leading from the one to other, but not otherwise;

"explosive substance" includes a gaseous substance in such a state of compression as to be capable of explosion;

"grievous harm" means any harm which amounts to a maim or dangerous harm as defined in this section, or which seriously or permanently injures health, or which is likely so to injure health, or which extends to permanent disfigurement or to any permanent or serious injury to any external or internal organ, member, or sense;

"harm" means any bodily hurt, disease, or disorder, whether permanent or temporary;

"have in possession" includes having under control in any place whatever, whether for the use or benefit of the person of whom the term is used or of another person, and although another person has the actual possession or custody of the thing in question;

"judicial officer" includes the Chief Judge and a Judge of a High Court, a Magistrate, the President and Justices of the Court of Appeal, the Chief Judge and Judges of the Federal High Court, the Chief Justice of Nigeria and a Justice of the Supreme Court, and when engaged in any judicial act or proceeding or inquiry, an administrative officer;

"knowingly" used in connection with any term denoting uttering or using, implies knowledge of the character of the thing uttered or used;


"law officer" means the Attorney‐General and the Solicitor‐General of the Federation, and includes the Director of Public Prosecutions and such other qualified officers, by whatever names designated, to whom any of the powers of a law officer are delegated by law or necessary intendment;

"local authority" means the local government council of the local government area;

"mail" includes any conveyance of any kind by which postal matter is carried, and also any vessel employed by or under the Nigerian Postal Service, or the postal authority of any other country, or the Admiralty, for the conveyance of postal matter, under contract or not, and also a ship of war or other vessel in the service of the Federation in respect of letters conveyed by it and also a person or animal used for the conveyance or delivery of postal matter;

"maim" means the destruction or permanent disabling of any external or internal organ, member or sense;

"money" includes bank notes, bank drafts, cheques, and any other orders, warrants, or requests, for the payment of money;

"Nigeria" means the Federal Republic of Nigeria;

"night" or "night time" means the interval between half past six o’clock in the evening and half past six o'clock in the morning;

"officer of the Nigerian Postal Service" includes the Post Master General, and every agent, officer, clerk, sorter, messenger, letter carrier, post boy, rider, or any other person employed in the business of the post office, whether employed by the Civil Services Commission of the Federation or any person on behalf of the post office;

"Order in Council" when used in connection with the terms ordinance and statute includes any relevant Order in Council of the United Kingdom applicable to Nigeria;

"packet boat" means a post office packet and includes any other vessel so employed in conveying postal matters by the Nigerian Postal Service;

"peace officer" includes any magistrate and any police officer of or above the rank of assistant superintendent;

"person" and "owner" and other like terms, when used with reference to property, include corporations of all kinds, and any other association of persons capable of owning property; and also, when so used, include the State;

"person employed by or under the Nigerian Postal Service" includes an officer of the said Service and a telegraph official;

"person employed in the public service" means any person holding any of the following offices, or performing the duties thereof, whether as deputy or otherwise‐

(1) any civil office, the power of appointing a person to which or removing a person from which is vested in the Civil Service Commission or any Board; or

(2) any office to which a person is appointed by or under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or any enactment; or

(3) any civil office, the power of appointing to which or of removing from which is vested in any person or persons holding an office of any kind included in either of the two last preceding sub‐heads of this section; or

(4) any office of arbitrator or umpire in any proceeding or matter submitted to arbitration by order or with the sanction of any court, or in pursuance of any enactment; or

(5) a member of a commission of inquiry appointed under any Act or law, and the said term further includes‐

(1) any justice of the peace;

(2) any person employed to execute any process of a court;

(3) all persons belonging to the military or police forces of Nigeria;

(4) all persons in the employ of any government department;

(5) a person acting as a minister of religion of whatsoever denomination in so far as he performs functions in respect of the notification of intended marriage, or in respect of the solemnisation of marriage or in respect of the making and keeping of any register or certificate of marriage, birth, baptism, death or burial, but not in any other respect;

(6) a person employed by a head chief in connection with any powers or duties exercised or performed by such chief under any Act or law or with the consent of the President or a Governor;

(7) a person in the employ of a local authority;

(8) a person in the employ of a local government council in connection with any powers or duties exercised or performed by such local government council and in respect of the duties for which the employment actually exists;

"police officer" means any member of the police force;

"postal matter" includes any letter, newspaper, packet, parcel or other thing, authorised by law to be transmitted by post, which has been posted or received at a post office for delivery or transmission by post, and which is in course of transmission by post, and any movable receptacle which contains any such thing, and which is in course of transmission by post: 

A thing is deemed to be in course of transmission by post or telegraph from the time of its being delivered to a post or telegraph office to the time of its being delivered to the person to whom it is addressed:

A delivery at the house or office of the person to whom any postal matter or telegram is addressed, either to him or to some person apparently authorised to receive it according to the usual manner of delivering postal matter or telegrams addressed to him, is deemed a delivery to such first‐named person;

"postal matter bag" includes any bag, or box, or parcel, or other envelope or covering, in which postal matter is conveyed, whether it does or does not contain postal matter;

"post office" and "telegraph office" respectively, includes any structure, room, place or receptacle, of any kind, appointed in pursuance of the Nigerian Postal Service Act or, as the case may be, of the Wireless Telegraphy Act for the receipt, despatch, or delivery, of any postal matter or telegram, or for the transaction of the business of the department relating to posts and telegraphs; and "telegraph office" includes any room or place used by a telegraph company for the receipt, despatch or delivery of telegrams;

[Cap. N127. Cap. W5.]

"property" includes everything, animate or inanimate, capable or being the subject of ownership; "prostitution" (with its grammatical variations and cognate expressions) includes the offering by a female of her body commonly for acts of lewdness for payment although there is no act or offer of an act or ordinary sexual connection;

"public" refers not only to all persons within Nigeria, but also to the persons inhabiting or using any particular place or any number of such persons, and also to such indeterminate persons as may happen to be affected by the conduct with respect to which such expression is used;

"public place" includes any public way, and any building, place, or conveyance, to which for the time being the public are entitled or permitted to have access, either without any conditions or upon condition of making any payment, and any building or place which is for the time being used for any public or religious meeting or assembly, or as an open court;

"public way" includes any highway, market place, square, street, bridge, or other way, which is lawfully used by the public;

acts are done "publicly"‐

(a) if they are so done in any public place as to be likely to be seen by any person, whether such person be, or be not, in a public place; or

(b) if they are so done in any place, not being a pubic place, as to be likely to be seen by any person in any public place;

"railway" includes every kind of way on which vehicles are borne upon a rail or rails, whatever may be the means of propulsion;

"railway servant" means any person employed by a railway administration in connection with the services of a railway;

"Statute" means a statute of the Imperial Parliament which is in force in, or forms a part of the law of, Nigeria;

"telegram" means any message or other communication transmitted or intended for transmission by telegraph, and includes a written or printed message or communication sent to or delivered at a telegraph office or post office for transmission by telegraph, or delivered or prepared for delivery from a telegraph office or post office as a message or communication transmitted by telegraph for delivery;

"telegraph" means a wire or wires used for the purpose of telegraphic communications, with any casing, coating, tube, or pipe enclosing the same, and any apparatus connected therewith, for the purpose of telegraphic communications, and includes a telephone, and submarine cable; it also includes any apparatus for transmitting messages or other communications by means of electric signals, whether with or without the aid of wires;

"telegraph company" means any company, corporation or person, authorised under the provisions of any Act to carry on the business of sending telegrams for the public;

"telegraph official" means any person employed in the Nigerian Postal Service or by a telegraph company in and about the reception, transmission, and delivery of telegrams, or in the construction, maintenance, or setting up of telegraphs;

"telegraph post" includes a post, pole, standard, stay, strut, or other above‐ground contrivance for carrying, suspending, or supporting a telegraph, and also includes a tree used for a like purpose;

"telegraph works" includes any wire insulator or telegraph post, and also any instrument, furniture, plant, office, building, machinery, engine, excavation, work, matter, or thing of whatever description, in any way connected with a telegraph;

"uncorroborated testimony" means testimony which IS not corroborated in some material particular by other evidence implicating the accused person;

"utter" includes using or dealing with, and attempting to use or deal with, and attempting to induce any person to use, deal with, or act upon the thing in question;

"valuable security" includes any document which is the property of any person, and which is evidence of the ownership of any property or of the right to recover or receive any property;

"vessel" includes a ship, a boat, and every other kind of vessel used in navigation either on the sea or in inland waters;

"wound" means any incision or puncture which divides or pierces any exterior membrane of the body; and any membrane is exterior, for the purpose of this definition, which can be touched without dividing or piercing any other membrane.

Section 1 of the Criminal Code Act in Nigeria

Act structure