I recall how as law
students, my friends and I always shared a joke about insanity being the best
defence to a criminal charge, especially as it related to crimes of passion like
when you catch another man on your wife
. For instance, I read about a
father who committed murder because a drunk driver drove into his 2 sons
killing them instantly. According to the report, the man whose sons had been
pushing his car from behind after it broke down along the highway just alighted
from the car, saw the carnage, went home, got a gun and shot the drunk driver. The
Father was however let go on the legal grounds that he was mad temporarily
insane when he shot the driver.

Boy o boy, I haven’t
read about that happening in Nigeria before, have you? Please share if you
have. Anyway, don’t think the defence of insanity is an automatic “get-me-out-of-jail”
card. No way and here is actually how it really works. You see, everyone is
presumed to be of sound mind at any time which comes in question, until the
contrary is proved (Section 27, Criminal
). So the burden is on the accused to prove that he is/was mad or
insane at the material time.
credits –
The law says a
person is not criminally responsible for an act if at the time of doing such
act, he is in such a state of mental disease or natural mental infirmity as to
deprive him of capacity to understand what he is doing or to control his
actions. However people who suffer from delusions do not come under this
category (Section 28, Criminal Code and
Section 51, Penal code
). So it’s better to say they are were following you
from the village and using a remote to control your movements rather than I
heard a voice telling me to shoot
Also note that you
don’t prove insanity just by word of mouth, one has to establish facts such as:
evidence of past history of the accused; evidence of conduct of the accused
after committing the offence; evidence from prison officials who had the
accused in custody; medical evidence; evidence showing that insanity is an
o`gun idile
runs in the family and evidence of relatives with similar
So the plea of insanity
is not an easy way out of trouble as my friends and I thought, the accused
person may still be convicted for culpable homicide and may just be ordered to
spend his days in Yaba Left psychiatric hospital taking lagatin
injections all day
Adedunmade Onibokun, Esq