Age Of Consent In Nigeria: Legal, Religious & Traditional Perspectives

Would you like to know the Nigerian age of adulthood? If so, you’re more than welcome to join us today. We are proceeding to discuss the actual age of consent in the country.

But between now and then, we will briefly examine the meaning of age of consent in Nigeria.

Let us go ahead and give justice to this issue.

Nigeria’s Age Of Consent & Child Protection

As other countries have their statutory age of adulthood, Nigeria also has its set age of consent. The Age of Adulthood Act is well documented in the Nigerian constitution, according to article 7.

Unfortunately, some traditions and religions do not respect that specific part of the constitution.

This is why the law regarding age of consent is flexible.

What Does the Age of Adulthood Stand For?

The age of adulthood is a starting age in which a young person is considered mature enough to start having a sexual activity like kissing, fondling, or sexual intercourse.

The law treats these individuals as adults enough to have a close relationship.  If a person is under the slated age of adulthood, such an individual will be considered a minor in terms of sexual relationships.

Age of Adulthood Determinants

In Nigeria, some factors influence the age of adulthood. These factors vary from religion to traditional influences. However, these factors will be examined on a case-by-case basis.

  • Religious Factor

In Nigeria, religion is vital to marriage and sexual relations. This has impacted the decision-making process regarding the age of adulthood in Nigeria.

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According to the Islamic faith, a daughter who reaches the age of 10 may be allowed to marry. We have watched so many adult Muslims marry young girls of that age.

Coming to Christendom, although there is no fixed age for marriage, only adults are allowed to engage in such private affairs. In most cases, only girls aged 18 or over have the right to marry.

More also, a Christian is not permitted to accept sexual activity until he/she is married.

  • Traditional Factor

How religion plays a significant role in Nigerian marriages, so does tradition has its influence. Given the country’s many cultures, the age of adulthood varies greatly depending on them.

However, in certain traditions, a person who turns 10 is considered an adult. But in other traditions, until an individual turns 18 before he/she can be regarded as an adult.

  • Nigeria’s Actual Age of Adulthood

The Nigerian constitution stipulates that the legal age of adulthood is 18.

Everyone below that age is considered a minor. This means that anyone who is up to the age of consent can legally start having sex with those of the same age or even older than them as mentioned earlier.

In that respect, any man who is fully adult can marry a girl who is 18 years old and over even an adult woman.

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Sadly, there are many cases in our country where people have violated that law. Just in case you don’t know, there is a legislator in Nigeria who married two girls, aged 13 and 15 respectively.

Guess what?  Nothing has been done about it because the religion of the individual allows it.

The only problem associated with this type of relationship is that, if the young girl or boy was married without the consent of his or her parents, it will be termed as kidnapped.

Furthermore, if anyone is caught in a sexual liaison with a girl or boy below the age of 18, such an individual will be charged for statutory rape, considering the victim as minor.

  • Some Controversies

A few controversies arise when a well-known politician married a daughter about 13 years old, which was around 2013. Then in 2015, a new bill on sexual offenses along with other 45 laws was brought to the senate-house for review.

Declaring that any person found guilty of having sex with a minor should be sentenced to life imprisonment.

So there were rumors that the age of adulthood was lowered from 18 to 11 by the National Assembly.  This situation left some high-profile Nigerians to complain about the sudden change.

However, you should know that the constitution has not changed.

What resulted in this rumor was that those who said the age of adulthood is 11 years, only read section 7 (2), forgetting what sub-section (3) and (4) Speaks of defiling minors.

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Anyone found guilty of having sexual relations with children under the age of 18 will face the wrath of the law.

  • What About the Age of Adulthood Act?

If you are not aware of the Age of Adulthood Act, then note that the Nigerian constitution prohibits sexual activity with minors, as we have earlier mention.

Any person caught trespassing with a minor is found guilty of desecration.

A number of these shortcomings include the following.

  • Anyone who defiles an 11-year-old or younger is sentenced to life imprisonment.
  • Anyone who defies a 12- and 15-year-old is also sentenced to life in prison.
  • Anyone who defiles a person between the ages of 16 and 17 risks going to jail for life.


  • What about Marriage?

As the age of adulthood under the Nigerian constitution is 18, you can only marry a partner who reaches the age of adulthood and beyond.

The law has made it clear that anyone under 18 is not allowed to enter into a marriage in this country.

One of the requirements for the wedding of the Nigerian court is that you and your partner must be 21 years of age or older.

For more information on the age of adulthood in Nigeria, you should consult Article 7 of the Nigerian Constitution. You will find detailed explanations about the age of adulthood.

Based on what we’ve talked about so far, you should be aware of the actual age of adulthood in Nigeria. Not only that, but it also includes several factors that influence the age of adulthood in Nigeria.

You can avoid being punished by the law if you subscribe to what we discussed.

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