Cruelty to Animals and the Nigerian Law.
By Olakunle Bamisile
Last month, Ex-Chelsea footballer, Kurt Zouma, who currently plays for London club, West Ham United, was seen kicking a cat in a viral video. Kurt’s actions elicited a range of reactions, especially from those of us living in the football world. Former Rangers and Scotland striker, Ally McCoist, called it sickening, pathetic, bullying, embarrassing, shocking, horrible and the most horrendous of crimes that tarnished the image of professional footballers; WWE Superstar, Drew McIntyre, called it distressing and truly disgusting; and Liverpool legend, Greame Souness, declared that he had no sympathy for the footballer.
David Moyes selected Kurt Zouma for their game against Watford which was few hours after reports of him kicking his cat emerged in the media, and this resulted in a lot of backlash for the West Ham coach as Zouma was also booed throughout the match. Amongst the punishments meted out on the player for his “horrible and disgusting” actions is a suspension by his club, maximum fine understood to be £250,000, taking of his cats by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), and scrapping of deals by Adidas and Vitality.
Horrible and disgusting? Many disagree. Kurt’s teammate, Michail Antonio, in his reaction, questioned the heavy criticism heaped on his teammate while asking if his action was greater than racism. This piece is an examination cum analysis of the position of the Nigerian law with regards to cruelty to animals.
The criminal code expressly prohibits cruelty to animals as it succinctly provides in Section 495 that:
“(1) Any person who‐
(a) cruelly beats, kicks, ill‐treats, over‐rides, over‐drives, over‐loads, tortures, infuriates, or terrifies
any animal, or causes or procures, or being the owner, permits any animal to be so used; or
(b) by wantonly or unreasonably doing or omitting to do any act, or causing or procuring the commission or omission of any act, causes any unnecessary suffering, or being the owner, permits any unnecessary suffering to be caused to any animal; or
(c) conveys or carries, or being the owner, permits to be conveyed or carried any animal in such manner or position as to cause such animal unnecessary suffering; or
(d) wilfully without any reasonable cause or excuse administers, or causes or procures, or, being the
owner, permits such administration of, any poisonous or injurious drug or substances to any animal, or wilfully without any reasonable cause or excuse causes any such substance to be taken by any animal; or
(e) subjects, or causes or procures, or, being the owner, permits, to be subjected, any animal to any
operation which is performed without due care and humanity; or
(f) causes, or procures, or assists at the fighting or baiting of any animal, or keeps, uses, manages, or acts or assists in the management of any premises or place for the purpose, or partly for the purpose, of fighting or baiting any animal, or permits any place to be so kept, managed or used, or receives or causes or procures any person to receive money for the admission of any person to such premises or place, is guilty of an offence of cruelty and is liable to imprisonment for six months or to a fine of fifty naira or to both such imprisonment and fine”.
The criticisms elicited by Zouma’s actions generated for itself counter-reactions from persons — obviously legal neophytes — who would launch into Zouma’s defense claiming the cat was his and he could do with it as he pleased. The fact remains that the video released revealed Kurt Zouma cruelly beating, kicking and ill-treating an animal, and were you Kurt Zouma, dear Nigerian, you’d have been liable for a jail term of up to six months.
“Do you mean I shouldn’t kill my chicken for meat?”
“Do you mean I shouldn’t kill my goat for pepper soup?”
No! Read along.
Section 495 of the criminal code, in subsection (3), provides that:
“Nothing in this Chapter shall apply-
(a) to the commission or omission of any act in the course of the destruction, or the preparation for destruction, of any animal as food for mankind, unless such destruction or such preparation was accompanied by the infliction of unnecessary suffering; or
(b) to the coursing or hunting of any captive animal, unless such animal is liberated in an injured, mutilated or exhausted condition; but a captive animal shall not, for the purpose of this section, be deemed to be coursed or hunted before it is liberated for the purpose of being coursed or hunted, or after it has been recaptured, or if it is under control.”.
So, animals can be reasonably killed as food for mankind. However, it is instructive to note that the Nigerian law frowns at cruelty to animals (which may include beating your dog, causing your ram to fight another and kicking your cat like Kurt Zouma), and if caught by appropriate authorities, you may be prosecuted.
There’s an urgent need for legal awareness as a lot of persons wallow in the ignorance of the law, and ignorance of the law is unfortunately not an excuse — Ignorantia juris non excusat. Know the law: cruelty to animals is a crime.
Olakunle “Cardinal” Bamisile is an undergraduate of the Prestigious Faculty of Law, Lagos State University, and may be reached via email@example.com and 07087263472.
This work is published for free under the free legal awareness program of Sabi Law Foundation (www.SabiLaw.org), funded by the law firm of Bezaleel Chambers International (www.BezaleelChambers.com). You can support the legal awareness program of Sabi Law Foundation by donating here. Donate here and get our unique appreciation certificate or memento.
This publication is not a piece of legal advice. The opinion expressed in this publication is that of the author(s) and not necessarily the opinion of our organization, staff and partners.
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