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List of Most Common Crimes and Their Penalties in Nigeria



List of Common Punishable Crimes in Nigeria
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List of Most Common Crimes and Their Penalties in Nigeria

Understanding Common Crimes and Penalties in Nigeria: A Comprehensive Guide

Explore the most common crimes in Nigeria, their definitions, and the penalties they incur according to the Nigerian constitution. From cybercrime to physical assault, learn how the law addresses these offenses.

In every society, crime is an inevitable reality, necessitating stringent laws and regulations to deter individuals from engaging in unlawful activities and to impose appropriate penalties on lawbreakers. Nigeria, with its diverse and populous nature, witnesses a range of criminal activities. This article delves into the prevalent crimes within the Nigerian jurisdiction, highlighting the full spectrum of punishable offenses and their corresponding penalties as stipulated by the criminal act or the Nigerian constitution.

Full List of the Most Common Crimes and Their Penalties in Nigeria


Terrorism involves inciting fear and harm among people to intimidate them, often motivated by religion, politics, or financial gains. In Nigeria, terrorism is met with life imprisonment or the death penalty if it results in fatalities.


Cybercrime encompasses offenses committed using a computer or other digital devices. Nigeria’s EFCC mandates cybercafés to register for operational monitoring, imposing penalties up to ten million naira or five years in jail.


Rape, the act of non-consensual sexual intercourse, often accompanied by violence, is severely punished in Nigeria. It symbolizes a deep-seated moral decay, leading to life imprisonment, lesser penalties, or fines.

Economic Crime

Economic crimes harm Nigeria’s economy, potentially triggering a recession. Offenses like tax evasion and pipeline vandalism attract sentences of up to seven years, with or without fines.

Financial Crime

Financial crimes involve the unauthorized use of money or financial instruments, such as bank fraud. The penalty can be as severe as 14 years in prison, fines, or both.

Advance Fee Fraud

This scam involves convincing victims to make upfront payments for nonexistent opportunities. The penalty mirrors that of financial crimes, with up to fourteen years in jail, fines, or both.

Money Laundering

Illegally transferring funds out of Nigeria to make them appear legitimate incurs a seven to fourteen-year jail term plus monetary fines.

Police Brutality and Hostility

The Nigerian police force’s violence and antagonism have left many questioning their safety. The penalty for police brutality is up to three years in prison.

Corruption and Bribery

Offering or accepting bribes or abusing a position of trust for personal gain carries a three-year prison sentence.

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Robbery, particularly armed and highway robbery, is prevalent in Nigeria, attracting a seven-year sentence, with or without fines.

Religious Crisis

Offenses committed during religious crises are prosecuted, with perpetrators facing charges for murder, arson, rape, theft, and more.


Being complicit in a crime incurs the same penalty as the primary offense.

Criminal Conspiracy

Conspiracy to commit a crime can lead to a six-month prison term, with or without fines.

Libel and Slander

Spreading false information that harms someone’s reputation can result in three years in jail, fines, or both.


Misappropriating funds attracts a penalty ranging from seven to fourteen years in prison, alongside monetary fines.

Ballot Box Snatching

Interfering with electoral processes through ballot box snatching is punishable by a hefty fine or ten years in prison, or both.


Creating false documents or altering genuine ones without authority carries a seven-year sentence, with or without fines.

Physical Assault

Physical assault may lead to life imprisonment or lesser penalties, plus potential fines.

Hate Speech/Public Incitement

Spreading hate speech or inciting the public can result in a one-year jail term.

Examination Malpractice

Cheating in examinations incurs a three-year prison sentence.


Awareness of the various crimes prevalent in Nigeria and their penalties is crucial for every citizen. While ignorance of the law is no defense in court, understanding these legal boundaries fosters a more law-abiding society. Should you find yourself wrongly accused, engaging a competent lawyer is imperative. Some individuals inadvertently break the law, and a skilled lawyer might leverage this in your defense. This guide serves to enlighten and guide residents and visitors alike on the path of legal compliance in Nigeria.

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