Rethinking The Basis of Corporate Criminal Liability In Nigeria
The primary function and object of a company incorporated for the purposes of business is to make profit for the shareholders. In a bid to maximize profit, companies often commit all kinds of crime, murder inclusive. Unfortunately, although the company is an independent entity, it functions through the instrumentality of human beings. The usual question that arises when a crime is committed is, who takes the responsibility and how? The question that is even more crucial is, how and when can it be said that the company is criminally liable? The current approach in our jurisdiction is to hold the company vicariously liable. In other words, the company can only be liable if it can be shown that an alter ego or a principal officer who can bind the company committed the offence in the ordinary course of its business. It is the view in this paper that this approach is too narrow and creates an unnecessarily wide latitude for the company qua company to escape criminal liability. This paper thinks that it is high time we moved beyond the identification model/ vicarious criminal liability to embrace the corporate culture approach to corporate criminal liability so as to hold companies liable for the crimes they commit and met unto them the punishment which they deserve.