The quote that ‘ignorance is not a valid excuse before the law’ is the one most people can never forget.
Many times, you or someone you know has been in trouble with the law because of something he/she did or did not do.
Especially in Nigeria, where a little mistake can land you in huge trouble, is it important that you know the laws that you should never break.
Here are some of the strangest ones you will ever see:
1. Sale of matches made with white phosphorus: The sale of matches made with white phosphorus or the use of white phosphorus in manufacture of matches is a criminal offence.
White phosphorus is a material made from a common allotrope of the chemical element phosphorus that is used in smoke, tracer, illumination, and incendiary munitions.
It can cause death if inhaled as a smoke or ingested. Extensive exposure by burning and ingestion may result in death.
2. Breach of promise to marry: If you promise to marry a person and fail to keep that promise, you can be sued at a court.
However before an act of a person can amount to breach of promise to marry. There are the following prerequisites:
a) There must be evidence before the court that indeed there was a promise of statutory marriage (under the Marriage Act).
This is because the different customary laws do not provide a cause of action for breach of executor contracts such as the promise to marry.
b) There must be evidence that a party to the contract to marry failed to perform his obligations.
3. Witchcraft: Believe it or not, there is actually one of the Nigerian criminal code laws which is against witchcraft.
According to the law, any person who by his/her statements or actions represents himself/herself to be a witch or to have the power of witchcraft is guilty of misdemeanour and is liable to two years in prison.
4. Army green: Under the Prohibition of Use act, it is illegal to paint your private vehicle, ‘army green’. This law has been extended sometimes to include wearing camouflage coloured attire. You do not want to be caught by the military contravening any of these laws.
5. Christian wives: This might be one of the strangest laws. Under the law, a wife of a Christian marriage is not criminally responsible for an act which she is actually compelled by her husband to do in his presence.
There is however an exception, if it is an offence punishable with death, or one in which grievous harm to the person of another, or an intention to cause such harm.
6. Jactitation of marriage: In Nigeria, you can obtain a ‘jactitation of marriage’ , what this means is that you can get an injunction against someone from claiming to be your spouse.
Under the Matrimonial Causes act, if the person ignores the injunction, he/she can be arrested and prosecuted.
7. Reward for stolen property: Now, this is especially tricky. If someone steals your property, it is criminal to advertise a reward for the return of the stolen or lost property with a statement that no questions will be asked, or that the person producing such property will not be arrested or punished.