Adultery Is Not An Offence In All States In Nigeria

Adultery Is Not An Offence In All States In Nigeria.

by Onyekachi Umah,Esq.
(Tip 209)

Adultery is an offence only in the northern part of Nigeria. It is not an offence in the Western, Eastern and Southern parts of Nigeria. Hence, adultery as a crime in states in Northern Nigeria, it is punishable with 2 years imprisonment and or with an option of fine.

In the other parts of Nigeria, no person can be charged to court for adultery. While adultery may be morally wrong, until an immortality becomes an offence, no person can be charged to court for such immortality.

There is a distinction between marriage law and criminal law. Criminal law governs crimes and it is only what the law says is a crime, that is a crime. Marriage law governs marriages, and there are 3 major types of lawful marriages in Nigeria; Customary Marriage, Islamic Marriage and English (Statutory) Marriage.

Across the 3 types of lawful marriages in Nigeria, often adultery is a ground for divorce. It is a ground because the relevant laws to the marriages say so and not because adultery is a crime. Not all the grounds for divorce are crimes and not all crimes are grounds for divorce.

Coincidentally, while adultery is a good ground for divorce in the 3 types of lawful marriages across Nigeria, adultery is also an offence in the Nothern part of Nigeria. However, adultery is not an offence in the Southern part of Nigeria but it is a good ground for divorce. There is no offence known as adultery in the Criminal Laws of states in the southern part of Nigeria.

There is an argument that adultery is a criminal breach of trust and that as such, adultery is a criminal offence in the Southern part of Nigeria. This argument is faulty since every crime must be written in law and there is no law in the South that has provided for the crime of adultery.


Sections 387 and 388 of the Penal Code Act, 1960.


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