Section 357: Definition of Rape
Any person who has unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman or girl, without her consent, or with her consent, if the consent is obtained by force or by means of threats or intimidation of any kind or by fear of harm, or by means of false and fraudulent representation as to the nature of the act, in the case of a married woman, by personating her husband, is guilty of an offence which is called rape.
Ingredients of the offence of rape
In order to succeed in a charge of rape, the prosecution must prove the following ingredients of the offence:
- That a man, the accused had sexual intercourse with a woman, the victim.
- That the act of intercourse was unlawful not being between husband and wife.
- That in giving the evidence of intercourse, complete penetration is proved;
- That the accused had the requisite mens rea; that is, intention to have intercourse with a woman without her consent or that the accused acted recklessly not caring whether the woman consented or not;
- Also, the prosecution must adduce evidence to corroborate the complaint made by the victim and although this is not required as a matter of law, it is required in practice.
See the celebrated case of Adeoti V. State (2009) All FWLR (pt.454) 1450 C.A where the Court of Appeal held that:
The offence of rape is said to be consummated where a man has unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman or girl without her consent or where her consent is obtained by force or by means of threat or intimidation of any kind or by fear of death or possible bodily harm or by means of deceit, falsehood or fraudulent representation as to the nature of the act.
Similarly, in Sambo V. State (1993) 6 NWLR (pt. 300) 399. The court held in 1993 that it is the law that before the prosecution can secure conviction for the offence of rape, the evidence of the prosecutrix (the victim of the rape) must be corroborated in some material particular that sexual intercourse did take place and that it was without her consent. It was also held that a piece of evidence offered as corroboration for the offence of rape must be:
- Cogent, compelling, and unequivocal as to show without more that the accused committed the offence charged.
- An independent evidence which connects the accused with the offence charged; and
- Evidence that implicates the accused in the commission of the offence charged.
Punishment of the offence: Section 358
Any person who commits the offence of rape is liable to imprisonment for live, with or without canning.
In Posu V. State (2011) 2 NWLR (pt. 1234) 393 S.C. at the conclusion of the trial, the trial court found the appellants guilty as charged and convicted them accordingly, aggrieved by their conviction, the appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal which dismissed the appeal affirming the decision of the trial court. Aggrieved further, the appellants appealed to the Supreme Court which held:
“Rape is an unlawful sexual intercourse with a female without her consent. It is an unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman by a man forcibly and against her will. It is the act of sexual intercourse committed by a man with a woman who is not his wife without her consent“.
Rehodes-Vivour (JSC) had this to say:
‘The appellants were sentenced to three years in prison. Since there was no cross-appeal there is nothing that can be done on the strange sentence, The prosecutrix suffered an ordeal that was the stuff of the nightmares. A ferocious and indiscriminate attack by two callous, wicked men. To my mind where, as in this case there is overwhelming compelling evidence that, two men took turns to rape a defenceless young girl in degrading and horrific circumstances, I think the appellants should forfeit their place in a decent society for a much longer periods. Three years in prison cannot be adequate for such an act’.