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- Mr. Alex was apprehended by the Police last Tuesday for impersonating an officer, he was seen extorting money from commercial motor cycle riders and when asked to identify himself, it was revealed that he was actually a fraud.
- Mr. Segun Chinedu Ibrahim has fraudulently put himself out as a lawyer and was fraudulently representing clients in court, upon suspicion and investigation, he was arrested and charged with impersonation.
To impersonate another is wrong. The Oxford dictionary defines the word “impersonate” as “ the act of pretending to be someone else”. The law frowns on impersonation because the aim of the act is usually to deceive another in to believing someone is who he really is not. A clear example includes the arrest and prosecution of several persons who were pretending to be lawyers, policemen or members of the armed forces.
In Nigeria, like most other legal jurisdictions, impersonation is a crime and duly provided for in our Criminal Code Act in Chapter 46. Section 484 in this chapter provides that – Any person who, with intent to defraud any person, falsely represents himself to be some other person, living or dead, is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for three years. Similarly, as provided in Section 487 of the Act, any person whom a document has been giving to certify him for some certain privileges and proceeds to give such document to another with the intention that the other person presents himself as qualified to bear such document is guilty of a felony and liable to imprisonment for 3 years. For instance, a policeman who gives his official identity card to another person to use in impersonating the police officer is guilty of the above offence.
On the other hand, any person who, with the purpose of obtaining any employment, utters any document of the nature of a testimonial or character given to another person, is guilty of a misdemeanor and is liable to imprisonment for 2 years (Section 488). Persons who lend out their certificates to others for the use of impersonation are also not excluded from punishment as such person is guilty of a misdemeanor, and is liable to imprisonment for three years.