STEALING VERSUS STEALING WITH VIOLENCE (ROBBERY) IN NIGERIA

STEALING AND STEALING WITH VIOLENCE (ROBBERY) 

Stealing is when a person fraudulently takes anything capable of being stolen(things/ properties that when someone steals it qualify and amount to stealing) or fraudulently converts to his own use or to the use of any other person anything capable of being stolen, is said to steal that thing.

Theft, instead of stealing is used in the Penal Code and it defined theft  as ‘whoever intending to take dishonestly any movable property out of the possession of any person without that person’s consent, moves that property in order to take it is said to commit theft.’
Stealing can be described as the wrongful taking or conversion of property belonging to another.

The criminal code define stealing as when a person fraudulently takes anything capable of being stolen, or fraudulently converts to his own use or to the use of any other person anything capable of being stolen, is said to steal that thing. The big question now is , what are the things that are capable of being stolen??

Below are things capable of being stolen as provided under 382 of criminal code

Section 382. Every inanimate thing whatever which is the property of any person, and which is movable, is capable of being stolen

Every inanimate thing which is the property of any person, and which is capable of being made movable, is capable of being stolen as soon as it becomes movable, although it is made movable in order to steal it.
Every tame animal, whether tame by nature or wild by nature and tamed, which is the property of any person, is capable of being stolen: but tame pigeons are not capable of being stolen except while they are in a pigeon-house or on their owner’s land.

A thing in action is capable of being stolen
Animals wild by nature, of a kind which is not ordinarily found in a condition of natural liberty in Nigeria, which are the property of any person, and which are usually kept in a state of confinement, are capable of being stolen, whether they are actually in confinement or have escaped from confinement.

Animals wild by nature, of a kind which is ordinarily found in a condition of natural liberty in Nigeria, which are the property of any person, are capable of being stolen while they are in confinement and while they are being actually pursued after escaping from confinement, but not at any other time.

An animal wild by nature is deemed to he in a state of confinement so long as it is in a den, cage, sty, tank, or other small enclosure, or is otherwise so placed that it cannot escape and that its owner can take possession of it at pleasure.

An ostrich on an enclosed ostrich farm is capable of being stolen.
The term “animal” includes any Loving creature other than mankind.

Wild animals in the enjoyment of their natural Liberty are not capable of being stolen, but their dead bodies are capable of being stolen.

Everything produced by or forming part of the body of an animal capable of being stolen is capable of being stolen.

ELEMENTS OF STEALING

You need to understand that for an act to amount to stealing; some elements must be present or follow the act. For an act to amount to stealing there must be taking, conversion, and fraudulent intentions.

Taking in this sense does not mean that the person alleged to have stolen should have had in his or her possession, the thing said to be stolen. It is sufficient if the person accused of stealing merely moves or cause the property to be moved with the intention of stealing it.

Conversion is dealing with goods in a manner inconsistent with the right of the true owner provided there is an intention on the part of the person converting the property to deny the owner’s right or to assert a right which is inconsistent with that of the owner.

Fraudulent intention, ( dishonest) In other for you to ascertain whether the intention of the person taking or converting any property was fraudulent or dishonest at that material time in order for such acts to amount to stealing, any of the following intentions provided under section 383(2) must be present:

A person who takes or converts anything capable of being stolen is deemed to do so fraudulently if he does so with any of the following intents-

(a) an intent permanently to deprive the owner of the thing of it;

(b) an intent permanently to deprive any person who has any special property in the thing of such property;

(c) an intent to use the thing as a pledge or security;

(d) an intent to part with it on a condition as to its return which the person taking or converting it may be unable to perform;

(e) an intent to deal with it in such a manner that it cannot be returned in the condition in which it was at the time of the taking or conversion;

(f) in the case of money, an intent to use it at the will of the person who takes or converts it, although he may intend afterwards to repay the amount to the owner.

The term “special property” includes any charge or lien upon the thing in question, and any right arising from or dependent upon holding possession of the thing in question, whether by the person entitled to such right or by some other person for his benefit.

(3) The taking or conversion may he fraudulent, although it is effected without secrecy or attempt at concealment.

(4) In the case of conversion, it is immaterial whether the thing converted is taken for the purpose of conversion, or whether it is at the time of the conversion in the possession of the person who converts it. It is also immaterial that the person who converts the property is the holder of a power of attorney for the disposition of it, or is otherwise authorised to dispose of the property.

(5) When a thing converted has been lost by the owner and found by the person who converts it, the conversion is not deemed to be fraudulent if at the time of the conversion the person taking or converting the thing does not know who is the owner, and believes on reasonable grounds that the owner cannot be discovered.

Punishment for stealing

The punishment for stealing where no other punishment is stipulated by law is three years imprisonment
There are however stiffer penalty of an imprisonment for life where the thing stolen concern wills, postal matters or relating to property, etc.,
Stealing of animals and in other circumstances such as from a dwelling house, vehicle, etc., can attract stiffer punishments.

Under the Penal Code theft attracts maximum imprisonment for five years or to both fine and imprisonment. The punishment maybe higher in other cases.

STEALING WITH VIOLENCE (ROBBERY)

The law views with all seriousness the use or threatened use of actual violence to any person or property at the time of stealing, whether immediately before or after.

Stealing and the use or threatened use of violence constitutes the offence of robbery.

It is important for you to note that it is the use or threatened use of violence that is distinguishing factor between the offences of stealing and robbery. You can see as treated above that in stealing, the use or threatened use of violence is absent.

The Major and only difference between stealing and robbery is the use of violence.

       Stealing with Violence: Extortion by Threat

SECTION 401 OF THE CRIMINAL CODE

401. “”Any person who steals anything, and, at or immediately before or immediately after the time of stealing it, uses or threatens to use actual violence to any person or property in order to obtain or retain the thing stolen or to prevent or overcome resistance to its being stolen or retained, is said to be guilty of robbery.””

The punishment for robbery is imprisonment for fourteen years in the criminal code and under the Penal Code it is up to ten years imprisonment

While an attempt to commit the offence under both codes carries the punishment of imprisonment for seven years, Under the Penal Code the offender is in addition liable to a fine.

The punishment for robbery is however severe both under the Criminal and the Penal Codes if at the time of robbery, the offender is armed with dangerous weapon or offensive weapon, etc.

In such cases the punishment can extend to imprisonment for fifteen years or even for life under both Codes.

In conclusion, stealing essentially involves the fraudulent taking or conversion of the property of another with the intent to deprive the owner permanently of that thing. It is important that the property in question must be capable of being stolen. Land, timber, corpses and animals in their natural habitats cannot be stolen. In the offence of stealing, there is no use or the threatened use of force or violence while in robbery this is present.

 

References

Section 383(1) criminal code

Section 286(1) penal code

Section 390 criminal code

Section 390(1) criminal code

Section 287 penal code

Section 288 penal code

Section 289 penal code

Section 290 penal code

Section 401 criminal code

Section 296 Penal code

Section 402 criminal code

Section 298 penal code

Section 403 criminal code

Section 299 penal code

Sections 403 criminal code

Section 298(b) and (c) penal code

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