Criminal Liability Under the Nigerian Law: An Examination of the Liability of Non-Legal Entities

Oreoluwa Omotayo Oduniyi


It is trite that the essential elements of an offence, particularly as it relates to criminal liability under the Nigerian Criminal Law are the actus reus and mens rea. However, in recent times the media has been filled with reports of animals stealing and carting away monies belonging to certain public agencies. This has continued to generate diverse views and raises new concerns for criminal liability and prosecution in Nigeria. This article, therefore, seeks to examine the basis of criminal liability under Nigerian law, particularly as it relates to non-legal entities such as animals. In achieving this, the essential elements of the offence of stealing under the Criminal Code Act, the Penal Code Act, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, and other laws will be examined. Drawing from the recent incidents of animals alleged of stealing of public funds, this article suggests an amendment of the criminal laws in Nigeria.


Criminal liability; Non-legal entities; Criminal law; Stealing

Full Text:



Cohen, E. (1986). Law, folklore and animal lore. The Past and Present Society Coverage: 1952-2014 (No. 1- No. 225) Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of The Past and Present Society.

Daniel, M. P. (2021). Legal research world ‘Sources of Criminal Law in Nigeria’. Available at <> last accessed 18/10/2021.

Deborah, C. (2021). England, ‘criminal liability’ criminal defence lawyer. Available at <> last accessed 24/11/2021.

Derbeken, J. V. (2021). Time Runs out for Dog in S.F. Mauling Death / Presa Canario given a Lethal Injection. (SFGATE January 31, 2012). Available at accessed 27/11/ 2021.

Dinzelbacher, P. (2002). Animal trials: A multidisciplinary approach. The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 32, (3) (Winter), 405-421. The MIT Press.

Ewulum, B. E. (2010). Applicability of the doctrine of mens rea under the Nigerian criminal jurisprudence. (A PhD Seminar paper) Faculty of Law, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, 2010.

Girgen, J. (2003). The historical and contemporary prosecution and punishment of animals. Animal Law Review at Lewis & Clark Law School 9 Animal L., 97.

Grundhauser, E. (2021). The truth and myth behind animal trials in the middle ages. Atlas Obscura. Available at <> last accessed 20/11/2021.

Hirsch, J. (1997, Feb. 4). New hampshire city’s three-strikes law lands dog on death row. AP NEWS.Available at accessed 27/11/ 2021.

Igwe, O. W. (2014). Actus reus and customary criminal law in nigeria; an appraisal of context and applicability. African Journal of Law and Criminality, 4. Available at Http://

Legal Emperors (2021). Laws and rules applicable to criminal courts in Nigeria. Available at <> last accessed 18/10/2021.

Monkey carted away N70 million in senators’ farm house - Shehu Sani (Premium Times Nigeria February 22, 2018) Available at accessed 28/11/ 2021.

Okemuyiwa, A. A. Z. (2019). Police & criminal prosecution in Nigeria. ResearchGate.

Olamide, O. (2021). Mens Rea (The Mental Element of an Offence). Available at <> last accessed 16/11/2021.

Olamide, O. (2021). Strict liability: Liability for animals’ Djet lawyer. Available at <> last accessed 19/11/2021

Oraegbunam, I., & Onunkwo, R. O. (2011). Mens rea principle and criminal jurisprudence in Nigeria. Department of International Law and Jurisprudence, faculty of law (Vol. 2). Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.

Oyakhiromen, I. G., Ayodeji Ige, B., et al (2006). Criminal Law I. National Open University of Nigeria.

Robinson, P. H. (1993). Should the criminal law abandon the actus reus-mens rea distinction? In S. Shute, J. Gardener, & J. Horder (Eds.), Criminal Law: Action, Value and Structure (pp.187-211).

Smith, A. T. H. (1978). On actus reus and mens rea. In P. R. Glazebrook (Ed.), Reshaping the criminal law: Essays in honour of Glanville Williams at 95.

Stryker, J. (1994, Feb. 3). The dog walks. The New York Times. Available at accessed 27/11/ 2021

Trevelyan, L. (2021). Liability for animals. IN BRIEF. available at ( last accessed at 21/11/2021.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2022 Canadian Social Science

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


  • How to do online submission to another Journal?
  • If you have already registered in Journal A, then how can you submit another article to Journal B? It takes two steps to make it happen:

1. Register yourself in Journal B as an Author

  • Find the journal you want to submit to in CATEGORIES, click on “VIEW JOURNAL”, “Online Submissions”, “GO TO LOGIN” and “Edit My Profile”. Check “Author” on the “Edit Profile” page, then “Save”.

2. Submission

Online Submission

  • Go to “User Home”, and click on “Author” under the name of Journal B. You may start a New Submission by clicking on “CLICK HERE”.
  • We only use four mailboxes as follows to deal with issues about paper acceptance, payment and submission of electronic versions of our journals to databases:;;;

 Articles published in Canadian Social Science are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC-BY).


Canadian Social Science Editorial Office

Address: 1020 Bouvier Street, Suite 400, Quebec City, Quebec, G2K 0K9, Canada.
Telephone: 1-514-558 6138 
Website: Http://; Http://;

Copyright © Canadian Academy of Oriental and Occidental Culture