If a lot needs to change about the 1999 constitution, it is Nigerians themselves — including the elites. The constitution has a provision for animal rights. But this is barely followed today. Stricter enforcement of the constitution is needed to win the trust of the citizenry. Having provisions in the constitution, that are neglected, casts a lot of doubts in the mind of any curious individual.
Animal cruelty is a crime in the 1999 constitution?
It is enshrined in the 1999 constitution, section 495 that any form of cruelty to animals is forbidden. This covers all domestic and creative animals like fish, dogs, reptiles. Only wild animals are excluded in the list.
In the same 1999 constitution, it is clearly stated in chapter 50 under Miscellaneous Offenses that:
Any person who cruelly beats, kicks, ill-treats, overrides overdrives, overloads, tortures, infuriates or terrifies any animal or causes or procures or being the owner, permits any animal to be used is guilty of an offense of cruelty and is liable to imprisonment for six months or a fine of N50 or both.
The most ridiculous part of this section is the N50 fine. The only thing N50 can afford one in this present time is a small pack of chin-chin. Someone shouldn’t be paying that for animal cruelty. The 1999 constitution needs to be updated to meet current realities. Many have said this. And we agree. The constitution has a lot of obsolete provisions. Another example is the ridiculous fine politicians pay for looting the treasury.
About animal cruelty in Nigeria?
There has not been any record of any convicted person since this law was enacted in the 1999 constitution. Cars run over domestic animals almost daily, in some Nigerian streets and nothing has been done to bring offenders to book — even when they obviously recklessly ran over the animals.
Perhaps, it is because the owners of the animals did not know they could get justice for their cruelly murdered animals. Or the cost of getting justice is pretty high and the time long — hence they forego the cases and endure the losses.
Each state of the federation should establish a mobile court that requires no hiring of lawyers to get justice for owners of cruelly murdered animals. This would instill some sense of humaneness in those who are cruel to animals. The fines in the 1999 constitution should be reviewed upwards, if there is any reason good enough for the whole constitution not to be reviewed and amended.
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