Why Adultery Is An Offence in Northern Nigeria And Not in The South

Crime in Nigeria is regulated by two major provisions of the law. One is the Penal Code Act which is applicable in all the Northern states in Nigeria, while the other is the Criminal Code Act which is applicable in all the Southern states in Nigeria. Although these two Acts have similar provisions in certain aspects, they are different in other aspects.
One of the aspects which the Criminal Code Act and the Penal Code Act have different provisions is in relation to offences emanating from marriage. Under Section 387 and 388 of the Penal Code Act, where a person has sexual intercourse with the spouse of another person, he or she may be punished with an imprisonment term of 2 years, with or without option of a fine.

However, under the Criminal Code Act, there is no such provision stipulating a punishment for an individual for committing adultery. The only thing that can result from a spouse committing adultery is that his or her partner may institute divorce proceedings against him or her.

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One of the aspects which the Criminal Code Act and the Penal Code Act have different provisions is in relation to offences emanating from marriage. Under Section 387 and 388 of the Penal Code Act, where a person has sexual intercourse with the spouse of another person, he or she may be punished with an imprisonment term of 2 years, with or without option of a fine.

However, under the Criminal Code Act, there is no such provision stipulating a punishment for an individual for committing adultery. The only thing that can result from a spouse committing adultery is that his or her partner may institute divorce proceedings against him or her.
The differences in the law applicable in the north, and that which is applicable in the south majorly have to do with the religion which is dominantly practicable. In the north, majority practice Islamic law, and as a result of this Sharia law practices are prevalent. This is not the case in the southern part of Nigeria, as many practice diverse religions ranging from Christianity to Islam and Traditional religion.

Apart from adultery being a ground for divorce in the southern part of Nigeria, it is also viewed as a moral wrong which is frowned against. Thus, if a married woman commits adultery against her husband, she is seen to have committed an atrocity, and may be dealt with in respect of cultural dictates. However she is not considered to be a criminal offender under the law and cannot be punished in respect of same.

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