Psycho-social Analysis of Elements of Provocation in Nigerian Criminal Justice: A Jurisprudential Desideratum

L A Adeleke


Human beings across racial distributions are inherently weak by nature; this weakness is multifaceted. One of the most ruinous of these weaknesses is the inherent emotional weakness that manifests itself in the form of anger or provocation. This weakness is so common and natural that it attracts the attention of “draftsmen” of most of the Criminal Codes across criminal jurisdictions, in which it constitutes a defence to criminal charges, including those with homicidal flavour. Commendable as this concession to human frailty may be, its application in Nigerian criminal law has left much to be desired. This is partly due to occasional impreciseness of legislative language, leading to a wide spectrum of judicial discretion that constitutes secondary sources of criminal law. Given this situation, the various elements of provocation need to be subjected to a psycho-social analysis, for Nigerian courts to truly accommodate the inherent human weakness upon which the defence of provocation is pivoted. This is important because provocation is a psycho-social phenomenon and a Judge is, jurisprudentially, a conduit, who ventures forth to garner what sister disciplines have to offer regarding a question of general nature which has been thrown up in legal context. Therefore, for justice to be manifestly done in charges involving a plea of provocation, Nigerian Judges must venture far afield and plough back the ideas, techniques and insights from a neighbouring discipline like psychology, into the intellectual milieu of law. This is the jurisprudential vacuum which this paper seeks to explore.  

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