Bovi and the Nigerian Flag; where is the Offence?

Bovi and the Nigerian Flag; where is the Offence? Daily Law Tips (Tip 742) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb(UK)

Introduction:

The cloth of the Nigerian comedian, Bovi to the 14th HEADIES has come with an avalanche of controversies. Since the 21 February 2021, that Bovi (Mr. Abovi Ugboma) anchored the Nigerian biggest music award, some Nigerians have called for his arrest. Many have argued that the popular comedian committed an offence against the Nigerian flag, by wearing a cloth with a picture of a blood-stained Nigerian flag, supporting the #EndSARS protests. This work analyses the cloth worn by Mr. Bovi, alongside the provisions of the relevant Nigerian laws on national flag.

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Sabi Law On BeatFm

Bovi and the National Flag:

Nigeria is a democratic state where crimes and punishment are created by laws and written in laws. Hence, there cannot be an offence in Nigeria, unless there is a law that specifically provides for the offence and its punishment. So, no matter how immoral an action or inaction may be in Nigeria, it is not an offense, unless there is a state or federal law that makes such an action/inaction a punishable offence (crime).

Like other nations across the world, Nigeria has a national flag. The national flag is made up of two colors; green and white. The constitution of Nigeria made reference to the national flag of Nigeria and places enormous duties on Nigerians towards the national flag. By the constitution of Nigeria, it is the duty of Nigerians to respect the national flag among other things.

Aside the constitution of Nigeria, there is a federal law dedicated to the national flag of Nigeria. The federal law is the “Flag and Coats of Arms Act”, made since 1960. Among other things, the law specifically described the national flag and how it should be managed. The law also specified the offenses that can be committed on the national flag and their respective punishments. The offences include; that the national flag cannot be flown or displayed on the same staff (pole, pipe, stick or rod) or cross bar with the flag of any other State, or the flag of any other country. Also, the national flag must not be dirty, tattered, defaced and torn when displayed or flown. The punishment for any of the above offences is a fine of One Hundred Naira (N100.00) and where the offence continues after a conviction, an extra fine of Ten Naira is to be charged for each day.

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Call for Legal Awareness Articles in English or Pidgin Languages.

In the case of Bovi de comedian, he merely wore a top with a picture of a blood-stained portrait of green and white colours. Bovi was not with a Nigerian flag, he was not exhibiting or flying any national flag. A Nigerian flag is meant to be exhibited and flown. A Nigerian flag is not a picture of green and white rectangles. Since Bovi was not with a national flag, then he couldn’t have been with a dirty, tattered, defaced or torn national flag. After all, a picture of a flag is not a flag, a caricature of a flag is not a flag, a portrait of a flag is not a flag and an animated copy of a flag is not a flag.  So, a cloth with a picture of a flag or a portrait of the colors of a flag is not a flag. Bovi’s cloth of green and white is not a national flag!

Conclusion: 

An offence is what the law says is an offence and not what the public opinion and morals says is an offence. Across all the laws in Nigeria, there is no crime that can be committed by wearing a cloth that has a picture of a blood-stained portrait of green and white colours. There are only few criminal offences that can be committed against the national flag, as shown above, and Mr. Abovi Ugboma has not committed any of them or any other crime.

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My authorities, are:

  1. Section 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 24, 318 and 319 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
  2. Onyekachi Umah, ”Can Any State In Nigeria Own A Flag And Fly It Instead Of The National Flag?” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 7 November 2018) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/daily-law-tips-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-tip-222-can-any-state-in-nigeria-own-a-flag-and-fly-it-instead-of-the-national-flag/ > accessed 22 February  2021
  3. “Federal Republic of Nigeria” (FOTW, 10 October 2015) <https://fotw.info/flags/ng.html > accessed 22 February  2021
  4. Onyekachi Umah, “Six Duties Of All Nigerians In Any Part Of The World” (LearnNigrerianLaws.com, 28 August 2019) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/six-duties-of-all-nigerians-in-any-part-of-the-world-daily-law-tips-tip-402-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarb-uk/ > accessed 22 February  2021
  5. Onyekachi Umah, “Flying Nigerian Flag and Its Implication” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 20 October 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/flying-nigerian-flag-and-its-implication/> accessed 22 February 2021
  6. Onyekachi Umah, “BBC Reports our Comment on the Killing of Persons With Nigerian Flag” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 23 October 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/bbc-reports-our-comment-on-the-killing-of-persons-with-nigerian-flag/> accessed 22 February 2021.

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