On 25 January 2014, somewhere in Kebbi State, a group of hunters went on a hunting expedition. One Muhammadu Sani Kalgo and one Mohammed Bandi were among them. Fight broke out over bushmeat.

Kalgo didn’t take lightly some things Bandi told him during the fight. Annoyed, Kalgo used an axe to break Bandi’s head. A typical case of “I go break your head” which was successfully executed. Bandi was rushed to the nearest hospital and later transferred to the University Teaching Hospital, Sokoto where he died 12 days later.

Kalgo was arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. (Perhaps the “bushmeat” they killed wasn’t an ordinary animal, afterall).

Kalgo appealed to the Court of Appeal but the appeal failed. Aggrieved, he proceeded to the Supreme Court. On 15 January 2021, the Supreme Court confirmed that he deserves to die and will die.

Kalgo had simultaneously raised the defences of self-defence and provocation during his trial. This was fatal. Abba Aji, JSC mocked this approach thus:

To simultaneously put up self-defence and provocation is to shoot oneself at the foot. Accused persons who scramble for defences to save themselves from drowning often go into unpardonable errors to lump up defences that cannot agree or betray their innocence and Inculpability in an offence. Self-defence and provocation are not birds of the same feather nor same bed fellows, hence, wherever and whenever they are raised together, the innocence of the accused person is already jeopardized.

While self-defence may completely save you from criminal liability, defence of provocation can only reduce your punishment due for the offence of murder to a sentence for manslaughter.


*Kalgo v. State [2021] 10 NWLR (Pt. 1784) 309 SC


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Stephen Azubuike
Author: Stephen Azubuike
Stephen is a lawyer with expertise in Commercial Dispute Resolution and Technology Law practice. He is a Partner at Infusion Lawyers. He has successfully argued cases from the High Courts of various jurisdictions to the Appellate Courts on behalf of financial institutions, other corporate bodies and multinationals. He has worked with a number of startup tech companies. He tweets @siazubuike.


  • Apoko

    I completely agree with his lordship. The two defenses are indeed strange bedfellows. Self-defense has the implication someone is coming after you; kill or be killed in the heat of the moment. In provocation, your life may not be at stake, most often than not, is a matter of emotions and the ability to conquer/control oneself in the heat of the moment.
    One must always guard against using all ‘lifeline/defenses’ at once, they could end up being the hangman’s noose.
    They say it’s better to err on the part of excess, perhaps that was the reason the counsel laid out all the defenses.
    Did the accused counsel apply for the silk?

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