Apr 8, 2016


You be thief
I no be thief
You be rogue
I no be rogue
You dey steal
I no dey steal
You be armed robber
I no be armed robber

-      Fela Kuti (Authority Stealing) 

The above are the lyrics from one of Fela Kuti’s songs, in the bridge, he is heard to be arguing with another while accusing the person of being a thief, an accusation the other party denies profusely. Thus, in the spirit of Fela’s song, are you a thief?

Don’t bother answering the question, it’s not like you would confess to being one right here on this public domain. At the same time, you may not be a thief but you may know someone suffering from Kleptomania. I suggest you share the contents of this blog post which such people.

Some of my youngest experiences of seeing thieves were at a time when mob justice was really popular. We had be indoors and suddenly hear shouts of “thief, thief, thief”, usually with one person being chased by a crowd wielding objects to aid in making the life of the alleged thief a living hell. I remember watching suspected thieves being beating and burnt alive over theft of something as little as food items. This used to be the lot of petty criminals, very sad I must say. I don’t see anyone beating and burning the politician accused of stealing government funds and endangering the lives of Nigerians but that’s a topic for another day and I do not in any way support or promote mob justice, it is a crime in itself and many innocent people have been punished by angry crowds for crimes they knew nothing of, an example is the case of the ALUU 4.

For those that are however found guilty by a court of law, theirs is a special case as the law provides a penalty for anyone convicted of stealing.  According to the Black’s Law Dictionary, 10th Edition, to steal means to illegally take personal property with intent to keep it unlawfully. In a nutshell, unlawfully taking something that doesn’t belong to you is stealing and the Criminal Code, Chapter C38, LFN 2004 provides a penalty for stealing.

It provides in Section 390 that “any person, who steals anything capable of being stolen, is guilty of a felony and is liable, if no other punishment is provided, to imprisonment for three years.” 

I guess the above is quite explanatory. So I will leave you with the chorus from the earlier stated fela’s song;

Catch am, catch am
Thief, thief, thief
Catch am, catch am,
Rogue, rogue, rogue,
Catch am, catch am
Robber, robber
Catch am, catch am

By the way, stealing with violence is armed robbery, especially when a fire arm is involved and anyone found guilty of armed robbery shall upon conviction be sentenced to death. Section 402,Criminal Code Act.

Adedunmade Onibokun

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