14 FACTS ABOUT COMPENSATION AND VICTIMOLOGY IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE IN NIGERIA. * Daily Law Tips (Tip 480) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LLM. ACIArb(UK)

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First of all, crime is an offence against the victim of the crime, the entire community (public) and the state (government). Government is the big brother of all, fights for all and protects all lives and property. So, where there is crime, government through security agencies will investigate, if there is enough evidence of crime, the government through the security agencies or the Ministry of Justice will prosecute the offender. An offender is prosecuted in court and a court can convict where offender is found guilty or it can discharge and quite an alleged offender, where an alleged offender is found not guilty. Where an offender is found guilty he must be sentenced to serve the punishment due to his offence.

However, during criminal proceeding or while delivering judgment, court can order an offender to pay COMPENSATION (a sum of money) to the VICTIM of his crime. A VICTIM is a person injured by the offence of an offender. He/she is the person that has suffered from the crime of the offender. A victim may be a human person, company, state, government agency, organisation or group among others. Hence, while government performes its constitutional duties, which includes the protection of lives and property, by investigating and prosecuting offenders using pubic fund, COMPENSATION goes to the VICTIM (person/persons that suffered from the crime). In some cases, government may also be a Victim, it may be a local government, state government, federal government or even all, and it/they will be entitled to compensation. Government does not get compensation for being the one investigating and prosecuting offenders unless such government is also a victim. It is also not impossible to have a particular government prosecute an offender where another government is a victim.

Note the following;
1. Compensation can be ordered by court, whether the alleged offender requests for such or not (Court can order compensation suo motu)
2. Compensation can be ordered during proceedings or at judgement
3. Compensation to be granted by court cannot be affected by the civil or criminal jurisdiction of the court.
4. Compensation can be ordered not minding any other fine/punishment that an offender deserves.
5. Court can call additional evidence to enable it determine the quantum (level) of compensation to be ordered.
6. Compensation does not stop civil cases and courts from ordering further substantial compensation.
7. Among other things, compensation can be granted to an innocent purchaser of a property that was given up for crime and also for cases of medical treatment to cover such cost.
8. Compensation cannot be paid in any case after judgment, until the time for appealing against judgment of the court has elapsed or before the completion of an appeal case on the judgment which ever is later.
9. Where compensation is granted by any court, such compensation must be considered in any subsequent civil case for compensation
10. Compensation can be paid to victim or the estate (surviving family) of a victim.
11. Compensation can be paid where a person was arrested or arrested and charged to court without sufficient evidence or for a false/frivolous accusation
12. A person to whom compensation is awarded may refuse to accept compensation.
13. Where compensation is paid or for failure to pay same, an offender is imprisoned, a victim is barred from any further legal action for the same issue and court must always explain this to a victim, to whom compensation is payable, before making an order for compensation.
14. Compensation is considered and enforced as a fine and can be recovered by seizure and sale of movable and immovable property of an offender or by attachment of debt/payment due to such offender.

My authorities are sections 314, 319, 320, 321, 322, 323,324, 325, 326, 494 and 495 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.

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