Crime and Punishment in Igbo Customary Law: The Challenge of Nigerian Criminal Jurisprudence
Every society has its own means of controlling the social behaviour of its citizens in order to reach its desired goals. The importance of the legal framework in this regard cannot be gainsaid. Thus, law provides, among other things, the penal technique by which those who are found guilty of acts prohibited by the society are punished. The Igbo society of Nigeria has in its body of customary laws a rich penal system. Though largely unwritten, prior to the advent of the British, this legal regime integrated the Igbo society unto its development. The Nigerian post-independence era, however, presented a veritable antipathy to and outright abolition of the customary criminal laws including that of the Igbo. Influenced by the received English system, its negative attitude to spiritualism in which most of the customary practices are immersed gives an added fillip to this disregard. But in their private lives and in the hinterland, people surely return to their primordial convictions. There is therefore the need to evolve a safe compromise that will preserve the baby after throwing away the bath water.