WHO GETS COMPENSATION FOR CRIMES IN NIGERIA; VICTIMS OR GOVERNMENT?* Daily Law Tips (Tip 475) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LLM. ACIArb(UK)

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Generally, a crime is an offence against a victim of crime, the entire community (public) and the state (government). Government is the big father of all, fighting for all and protecting all lives and property. So, where there is a crime, government through security agencies will investigate, if there is enough evidence to prove crime, the government through the security agencies or the Ministry of Justice will prosecute an offender. An offender is prosecuted in court and a court can convict where offender is found guilty or discharge and quit an offender, where an 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 a criminal proceedings or while delivering a judgment, a court can order an offender to pay COMPENSATION (a sum of money) to 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 a VICTIM (person/persons that suffered from the crime). In some cases, government may also be a Victim, it can be a local government, state government, federal government or even all, and as such they will be entitled to compensation. Government does not get compensation for investigating and prosecuting offenders unless such government is also a victim. It is also not impossible to have a particular government prosecute an offender while another government is the victim.

Note that, compensation can be paid where a person was arrested or arrested and charged to court without sufficient evidence or over a false/frivolous accusation.

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

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