In other to understand or comprehend the term “Criminal Litigation”, it may be expedient or necessary to appreciate or have an explicit knowledge of the terms “Criminal” and “Litigation” before delving into a wider definition of the criminal litigation.
The adjective “Criminal” According to Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary 12th edition is referred to as anything having the quality or attribute of crime. Crime is another word for offence which in itself is any act or omission which the law of the land forbids and prescribes punishments. Note that, before anything is said to be an offence or crime, it must be so regarded or called by a written law. Put differently, crime is what a statute provides for.
“Litigation” therefore refers to legal proceedings in a court of law or a judicial challenge or contest to determine and enforce legal rights or to ascribe legal duties.
Other positions of our statutes relevant to criminal proceedings are:
Section 2 of the Criminal code defines an offence as an act or omission which makes the person doing the act or making the omission liable to punishment under this code.
Section 28 Penal code “Except where otherwise appears from the context, the word “offence” includes an offence under any law for the time being in force”.
Section 2 Criminal Procedure Act provides: offence means an offence against any enactment in force in a state.
It may be wise to say that offence means without prejudice a breach of defined custom, law or laid down rules and nothing more pretentious is it.
Hence, offence may be referred to as the violation of any criminal statute, either the Act of the National Assembly or States House of Assembly made laws. An act or omission is said only to be an offence or crime when prescribed by law and the punishment thereof is provided for. This is because Section 36(12) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 provides thus;
Subject as otherwise provided by the constitution, a person shall not be
Convicted of a criminal offence unless the offence is defined and the
Penalty therefore is prescribed in a written law; and in this section, a
Written law refers to an Act of the National Assembly or a law of a state,
Any subsidiary legislation or instrument under the provisions of a law
Note generally, criminal proceedings are commenced by the state and or on its behalf usually by the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation or State, the police or any other person or authority recognized by law as having the authority for enforcement of public rights to commence criminal proceedings. However, the police officer must be a legal practitioner in other for him to prosecute.
Suffice it to mean that criminal proceedings or litigations are commenced by the authorities recognized by law for enforcement of public rights.
Emmanuel, B. (2021). An Appraisal of Criminal Litigation in Nigeria With the New Provisions of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020. Afribary. Retrieved from https://afribary.com/works/an-appraisal-of-criminal-litigation-in-nigeria-with-the-new-provisions-of-the-nigeria-police-act-2020
Emmanuel, Barr Precious Chinedu "An Appraisal of Criminal Litigation in Nigeria With the New Provisions of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020" Afribary. Afribary, 21 Aug. 2021, https://afribary.com/works/an-appraisal-of-criminal-litigation-in-nigeria-with-the-new-provisions-of-the-nigeria-police-act-2020. Accessed 27 Sep. 2021.
Emmanuel, Barr Precious Chinedu . "An Appraisal of Criminal Litigation in Nigeria With the New Provisions of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020". Afribary, Afribary, 21 Aug. 2021. Web. 27 Sep. 2021. < https://afribary.com/works/an-appraisal-of-criminal-litigation-in-nigeria-with-the-new-provisions-of-the-nigeria-police-act-2020 >.
Emmanuel, Barr Precious Chinedu . "An Appraisal of Criminal Litigation in Nigeria With the New Provisions of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020" Afribary (2021). Accessed September 27, 2021. https://afribary.com/works/an-appraisal-of-criminal-litigation-in-nigeria-with-the-new-provisions-of-the-nigeria-police-act-2020