For the purposes of determining the legal age of
sexual consent, we shall be relying on the provisions of the Child Rights Act
(2003). However, we must understand that the
in 2003,
Nigeria adopted the Child Rights Act to domesticate the Convention on the
Rights of the Child. Although this law was passed at the Federal level, it is
only effective if State Assemblies also enact it. To date, only about 16 of the
country’s 36 States have passed the Act.  The Act aims to promote and protect the rights
of children and it is quite important that other states in Nigeria yet to adopt
same do so in the interest of the children of that state.
With regard to sexual intercourse
with children, the Act provides in Section 31, that-

(1) No person, shall have sexual intercourse with a
(2) A person who contravenes the provision of
Subsection (1) of this section commits an offence of rape and is liable on
conviction to imprisonment for life.
(3) Where a person is charged with an offence under
this section, it is immaterial that—
(a) the offender believed the person to be of or above
the age of eighteen years ; or
(b) the sexual intercourse was with the consent of the
The above provisions simply mean that sexual
intercourse between an adult and a minor is prohibited and such adult cannot
claim that he/she believed the minor to be 18 or the intercourse was with the consent
of the child.
Other forms of sexual abuse and exploitation provided
for in the Child Rights Act can be found in Section 32 which provides that –
(1) A person who sexually abuses or sexually exploits
a child in any manner not already mentioned under the Act commits an offence.
(2) A person who commits an offence under Subsection
(1) of this section is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of
fourteen years.
The above provisions of the Act anticipate situations
of sexual exploitation against minors which may have not been provided for in
the Act and states that such acts will find the offender liable to 14yrs
Onibokun Esq.