The jurisprudence that surrounds the defence of provocation in criminal trials is no doubt an enterprise that has been judicially adjudicated in the Nigerian Courts. It is a defence often raised by the accused person when charged with murder. In the Nigerian criminal law system, it is trite that no amount of provocation can ground an acquittal in a criminal trial. This position is not largely different from the position under the Criminal Code of Ghana except with the concept of ‘Extreme Provocation’ which is ably codified in the Criminal Code of Ghana. A critical examination of the provisions of the law relating to the defence of provocation in the Criminal Code of Ghana and the Nigerian Criminal Code presents quite a number of legal dynamism. It is the position of the researcher that owing to the nature of the defense of provocation and recent dynamics in the Criminal justice system, provocation should not be met with some trite principle of reducing murder to manslaughter alone nor left to the unfettered perception of the Courts while ignoring some other important parts of the Law. The provisions of the relevant Criminal laws will be examined to test the impact such provisions have had in the criminal jurisprudence of the countries involved in this study. This study seek to examine both legal systems to the end of achieving a more comprehensive approach to determining criminal trials especially when the defense of provocation is raised by the accused person.
Keywords: Provocation, Murder, Manslaughter, Extreme Provocation
The defence of provocation is a highly raised defense to the criminal charge of murder. To a layman the circumstances that give rise to the defence may sometimes be justifiable and it is an acid test in criminal trials that conviction can only be safely done using a reasonable man’s test.