Legal Drama

Advocacy: Is the Person Who Falsely Yells “Thief!” Just as Guilty of Murder as the Person Who Responds and Kills the Alleged Thief? – UNIPORT 4 #Aluu

“Barely 48 hours after the alleged mastermind and main suspect in the Aluu4 murder, Coxson Lerebori Lucky, aka Bright was declared wanted by the Police, we are told he is now cooling in police net.

Lucky, 18, was the debtor who allegedly raised the false alarm that got the four boys Ugonna Obuzor (18, 200 Level Geology),

Lloyd Toku (19, 200 Level Civil Engineering), Tekena Elkanah (20, Diploma Technical student) and Chiadika Biringa (20, 200 Level Theatre Arts) lynched and gruesomely killed.
The arrest was confirmed by the Rivers state Police command. . . ” The


The above raises an interesting question specific to the jurisprudence (the study and theory of law) in Nigeria’s Criminal Justice System. The question is, is a person who yells “thief” just as guilty of murder as the person who responds to the false alarm and murders the alleged thief?

Under Nigerian Criminal law which shares a parallel with USA Criminal Law, for most crimes including homicides i.e. murder, the State (the Prosecutor) generally has to prove:

1. Actus Reus i.e. the guilty act (physical act or unlawful omission) by a criminal defendant;
2. Mens Rea i.e. the state of mind, the intent at the time the defendant acted;
3. Concurrence – meaning the physical act and mental state existed at the same time; and finally,
4. The Harmful result caused by the actions of the Defendant.

If Coxson is arrested because he yelled “thief!” arguably that is the actus reus abi?
However, where is the mens rea? Where is the concurrent action of mens rea and actus reus? All we know is that this man yelled “thief.” Is that enough to make him criminally liable for murder? Do we even get to number #4 above i.e. causation?

This is a very important point folks because I can’t tell you all how many times, growing up, I accompanied my mother to the local markets in Lagos. Inevitably, I would observe a squabble somewhere at these markets followed by market women who yelled “ole!” i.e. “thief!” and then before you know it a crowd gathered. The accused was not stealing. It was just a squabble over monies owed or value of goods being underpaid.

So, if the word “ole” i.e. “thief” is freely used in a society like Nigeria (which it is) and a mob shows up and murders an accused, should the person who yelled thief be guilty of murder? If you say “yes”, why?

I’ll let you all think about that and share your thoughts.

Okay! I’ve given enough of my time.

Gotta get ready for the week!

Enjoy your Sunday.

Twitter: @uduaklaw

Legal Practitioners Weigh in on ALUU Killings

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Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Uduak Oduok (Ms. Uduak) is a fashion and entertainment lawyer, speaker, visionary, gamechanger, trailblazer, and recognized thought leader, for her work on Africa’s emerging global fashion and entertainment markets, and the niche practice of fashion law in the United States. She is also the founder of ‘Africa Music Law,’ an industry go-to music business and law blog and podcast show empowering African artists. Her work in the creative and legal industries has earned her numerous awards and recognitions, including an award from the American University Washington College of Law for her “legal impact in the field of intellectual property in Africa." She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor at several institutions in the United States. For more information, visit her at

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