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Atoke: Taking Bae’s Money without Permission Isn’t Technically Stealing… Or Is it?



dreamstime_l_37253845Recently, my friend, Fadeke*** told me a story about her aunty’s husband and the man’s antics back in the 60s. According to the story, they were living in England – the aunty – a nurse, and her husband – a student. As a dutiful Yoruba wife in a faraway country, he had possession of her ‘pocketbook’ and was freely dispossessing her of funds that came into her bank account. When they moved back to Nigeria, the dynamics changed and he no longer had access to dip into her account the way he used to. He became surly and drunken. When people enquired about why he was now suddenly so ill-tempered, she’d snarl and say, “Igba ti o r’owo mi moo ji mo.” (When he doesn’t have access to steal my money). To which she would be scolded and told it is not right to say your husband is stealing from you.

Let’s look at the definition of stealing. According to the all knowing MacBook Dictionary, to steal is, “to take (another person’s property) without permission or legal right and without intending to return it

By marital rites and societal convention, marriage is a union of two people. So, your spouse is an extension of yourself. What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine. Or something like that.

But is it really stealing if you’re “just taking” from your partner (an extension of yourself by marriage)? Fadeke argued that it was not. When we were at UniLag, she would go to her boyfriend’s place for the weekend and come back with loads of cash – in two categories. One set of monies, neatly arranged in an envelope, and another set squeezed into her bag. For every thousand Naira he gave her, she took a little something for herself. She said it was just as good as being hers. Besides, the money was still there anyway – and she didn’t want to run the risk of him giving it to other women. It wasn’t stealing, she said. She was merely taking what belonged to her. They’re married today and she’s still on this thieving trend.

In discussing this issue with a cousin, she argued that it becomes stealing when there’s an imbalance in the financial contribution to the household. According to her,  it is only stealing when there’s a demeanour of hiding, and the volume of money taken is significant.  She says it’s not considered stealing if it’s money kept from a frequently forgetful husband. She tells him it’s the small price pay for continuously forgetting to empty out his pockets before she does the laundry. However, when the money goes beyond ‘chump change’ then it’s stealing. “It’s the intention and the motive behind it that makes it stealing.”

Then, I asked the question, what’s the consequence of stealing from your spouse? Stealing is a crime (and a sin – for you religious folks). So what do you do when your spouse is stealing from you? Do you report to the police?  Do you report to God? Or do you just keep your money away from the prying fingers of this person that you’re stuck with?

The first step, is to set a trap. Lay the cheese out and be sure that they go right into the mouse trap. Ensure that the recoil on that mouse trap leaves NO WIGGLE ROOM!

Now that you’re sure that your spouse is a thief, sad as it might be, you need to start slowly safe guarding your money. Open new accounts, secure your money, because really, you’re living with a robber. Change your cards, and secure your e-wallets.

Finally, have an open discussion with the thieving partner. It’s very dicey situation – accusing your partner of being a thief, because trust is already broken.  Explain to them that you know that they’re stealing from you and it is causing you immense pain – depleting your resources.

If all of these do NOT work… well… write a letter to Aunty Bella!

On a serious note, though…when does taking things from your spouse – without their acknowledgement – become stealing? How does one address such a situation with the relationship still being kosher? Is there an agreement of how much can be taken from a spouse without it being stealing?

And if you are a regular pilferer from your spouse, please tell us the motivation behind it. My cousin says anything more than $50 is theft!

What do you think?

*No real names were used in this script.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website for more information.


  1. Aida

    January 12, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    It is stealing! If it were right, one would not be hiding to do it.

  2. jess

    January 12, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    Growing up it’s mandatory to seek consent before taking money belonging to another that also applied to using things that were not mine.

    So that also extended to my marriage.worse case scenario is that I take from his wallet if he is not around but once he comes in i’ll tell him and vice versa.

    I don’t think it’s a good thing marriage or no marriage to take money belonging to your partner without at least letting them know before or after the fact. There is however one exception,if your partner is a miserable miser aka stingy koko then by all means you got to do what you got to do.

  3. Aminaso

    January 12, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    Errrm its not stealing jor, i help myself to money i “find” lying around especially as my dear boo might end up spending more than that on lunch or boys hang out. Most of the time i end up using it to run the house anyway. Sometime i mention sometimes i dont

  4. Nwakaego

    January 12, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    Stealing kwa???…”rolls eye” ego anyi kwa….ohhhhhh..

    • chinenye

      January 13, 2016 at 12:44 am

      abi oh…o ego anyi oh……. lolll

  5. Mz Socially Awkward...

    January 12, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    That Fadeke’s excuse sha… *side eyes” How about we switch things around and ask how she’d feel if every time she looked into her jewellery box, the boo had filched a set of gold earrings or a pendant to sell because he was “only taking what belonged to him”? To use her own words…

    It’s stealing and I would be PISSED to the moon and back if anyone who called themselves a romantic interest dipped a hand into my wallet and stole my hard earned money. As in, properly mad, abi you think say me sef no like to see where money just dey and I go dey collect for free?

    Someone was sharing with me the other day about how this boy she was dating asked for a £4000 loan (probably not exactly the same thing… as he initially took it with permission… but stay with me) for 2 weeks and then 2 weeks turned into about a month and then somewhere in there, they broke up and he suddenly decided not to pay her back. As in, proper dividends-of-love sumtin… When she eventually had to report him to “elders” so she could get her money back, he finally returned it but told her that he was surprised at her because they should have gone past that level. **side eyes**

    That one to, for im mind, it wasn’t technically stealing either…

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      January 12, 2016 at 9:14 pm

      *That one too*

    • kanyin

      January 12, 2016 at 10:36 pm

      O – L – E… OLE!!! the guy is a big thief! £4000! Haba?! Gone past what?! Loool! Some people are funny sha!

    • whocares

      January 13, 2016 at 11:29 am

      To grow past £4000 abi is it £40 and your hands just mistakenly added the remainding zeros? lool. Theft: appropriating property belonging to another with the intention to permanently deprive the other of it”.. Is it a joint account? No-, Is it your partner’s account or money? – Yes, Did you ask permission? NO- do you plan to pay back? No, Do you plan to inform that you took the money? – No. Ole ni e. Case closed.
      I have a liberal attitude with money and when people owe me I am that person that will forget for the simple reason that I only lend out amounts I am willing to forego. Nonetheless to take from me without permission? The other day my mom took £,000 from me and did not ask or even confess that she took it when I asked her. We both live in that house alone so really it is her. I know it, she knows that I know that she took it but maybe parental whatever she does not want to admit it.. Till today, she denies taking that money. The only saving grace is that she is my mother and well certain allowances have to be made for them. I have talked myself into forgetting about it cos lets face it she has spent more than that raising me etc. . She only gets that privilege because she is my mother. and I know she would not have taken it unless it was for something urgent and serious. If she is too embarrassed to talk to me about it, then I will let it go. If it happens a second time gods know I will lose it but for now I have honestly let it go though it pained it small sha. lool. any other person, husband o, child o, sister o.. hmmm mmm mmm there will be HELL to pay.. In as much as they are your partner etc they worked for that money and yes what God has joined together lets not put asunder etc, but let us respect them as well. You are a unit yes, but an individual first and foremost. That union will not succeed if you do not respect their personal autonomy.

  6. jasmine

    January 12, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    As long as you didn’t tell your spouse, no matter how small the amount, it’s stealing. It’s not regarded stealing when after taking, u tell your spouse.

  7. Sabifok

    January 12, 2016 at 9:47 pm

    Sounds like “What is yours is mine; and what is mine is mine”

    A bit one-sided. Maybe he stole her virginity, and this is her way of getting him back

    • kanyin

      January 12, 2016 at 10:37 pm

      Very funny! *side eye*

    • ElessarisElendil

      January 13, 2016 at 1:00 am

      Your username??????.

  8. Ruth

    January 12, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    I recently had to withdraw money to pay for lunch in my wards school from my account; but his money- long story!
    i had to tell him “dear, I had to borrow …… From your money in my account to pay for ….. Lunch. I will pay back later”
    He wouldn’t Hv noticed, neither would he have complained. But I guess telling him anytime i use 2 cents from his money keeps d trust in.
    Not that I plan to pay back. But it’s his money he deserve to know.

  9. kanyin

    January 12, 2016 at 10:40 pm

    “Now that you’re sure that your spouse is a thief…” “… need to start slowly safe guarding your money. Open new accounts, secure your money, because really, you’re living with a robber. Change your cards, and secure your e-wallets.”robber ke?! Lmaoo! This had me Laughing out loud!

    Taking anything without permission/approval is stealing. There’s no way you put it that justifies it

  10. Nahum

    January 12, 2016 at 10:46 pm

    It is stealing!! Plain and simple. If it is stealing when the man takes the woman’s money, it is also stealing when the woman does the same. I never take hubby’s money without asking and he does the same. Let’s not make excuses.

  11. Bonnie gee

    January 12, 2016 at 10:51 pm

    Its actually sum ow….. imagine avin mde plns 4 d money n y wantin 2 execute… d mny is gone. will b so much mad @ such behaviour frm bobo.

  12. Andrew

    January 12, 2016 at 11:54 pm

    Oh, religious folks! Well, I thought we all are religious folks in naija? Well, no matter the amount, it is religiously, morally, legally, and every “LLYableslly” wrong. No other word to describe it.

  13. Bolanle

    January 13, 2016 at 1:16 am

    This is definitely stealing. It bothers me how people think marriage equals eternal permission. This is the same reason why many people don’t recognize marital rape as a thing! Marriage does not make you entitled to anything that your spouse owns unless he or she gives you permission. This goes both ways! There are many women who do the same to their husbands’ account.

  14. thow_lou

    January 13, 2016 at 6:55 am

    When I was in a relationship (I am single now) I have never been one to take the boo’s money without telling him and FYI I made sure I returned his money (it’s was his decision to decide if he didn’t need me to return it) therefore if the boo ever had to take my money, I think I deserved to be told. You don’t just take my money because we are one … mba, I don’t belong to that school of thought !

  15. Truetalk

    January 13, 2016 at 8:17 am

    Hmmmm! Where I see Bae money to steal in the first place. Maybe kili kili change N100 or N50 which is pretty useless really. But real money? Where I wan see am kwan?

  16. Big Tee

    January 13, 2016 at 8:47 am

    This is a testy issue for me, my babe takes my bars without my consent, then she borrows money without an intention of returning it, and I’m not stingy o, I’m generous, I even pay her a salary every month, sometimes I think I’m being ripped off, but that can’t happen to me, I reject in Jesus name.

    • Laide

      January 13, 2016 at 9:49 am

      I just want to know..why do guys pay their girlfriends salary every month.are u paying for love, companionship, or sex. It just confuses me. I understand occasionally giving your babe money but salary…

    • ATM

      January 13, 2016 at 9:56 am

      You are simply an ATM to her. Maga is paying
      Try take hers one day if heaven no go fall
      It is their way

  17. Cindy

    January 13, 2016 at 9:20 am

    Oga, y u go dey pay monthly salary in the first place? Except she cooks, washes, cleans and is basically your housewife, the logic is lost to me.

  18. jingo

    January 13, 2016 at 9:54 am

    @ Big Tee, i hope you also gave her Christmas bonus plus her salary

  19. Khloe

    January 13, 2016 at 10:10 am

    Hahaha this is so me… When he gets to the office and notice some notes are missing, he calls me and he says, “you’ll kill me oo but I like your nails Polish or cook me a nice dinner”. We laugh over it. Call it whatever…it’s working for me now dunno about tomorrow


    January 13, 2016 at 10:21 am

    it depend on the man.some men prefer to big boy outside and leave peanuts at home. so if the woman help herself to his pocket……….dts not bad,it is for the progress of the family…loll….in other scenario apart from this, it is theft IMO

  21. zee

    January 13, 2016 at 10:23 am

    well i think it depends largely on individual relationship. understanding ones partner goes a long way. i take his money and he knows. i dont tell him but he jokes about the fact that any left over change in his trousers automatically belongs to me.

  22. B.E

    January 13, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    I was initially going to say abeg leave this matter for matthias however it is morally wrong to take anything which doesn’t belong to you without asking the owner (not God o naija women, the man) before una say I prayed about it and God answered my cry when he showed me the money lol

  23. Ujunwa

    January 13, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    whatever name we decide to call it stealing is stealing as long as the person you stole from has no idea, and you know that he or she would not permit it if you asked.
    if you need something ask me, if im not around and its important you take it, call me as soon as u can reach me and tell me.
    this also goes for friends that think its OK to steal from other friends after all friends are meant to inconvenience each other. “BIKO” please do not inconvenience me. do not take my stuff without asking and claim we are friends, that is stealing and i wont ever allow you that opportunity again. Put your self in my shoes. If you just buy this awesome dress and you’ve worn it once, and then i come to visit you, put the dress in my bag when i’m leaving and then call u when i get home to tell you.
    Abeg how would you feel? Biko do not try. Tiff na Tiff friends or spouse

  24. Single Shalewa, Bitter Bintu!

    January 13, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    I find it very disrespectful and painful when someone takes my money without notifying me. This is why i don’t do it others – hubby inclusive. We’re very open with each other’s money o, in fact, he’s ridiculously generous. But, at least just tell me. Don’t bring that stealing by trick attitude here abeg.

  25. Jane

    January 13, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    SO! i have had a thiefing experience with an EX! indeed. the nonsense we take from our partners in the name of love. Lets cal him Mr K! Oga K! decided on his own to leave work without any job offers waiting for him o, he just upped and said babe, i m leaving coy B! i cant take the pressure anymore (whether is true, its only God that knows).

    I wld visit sometimes and cook for him and his elder bro, just so boys can eat well, and one day i went to the market, bought things and settled in to cook, i left my bag in the living room with oga k, i didnt know he took some money at first, on my way home as he was dropping me off, he didnt mention it o. when i was home and looking through my purse, i noticed that 10k of my money had vanished.

    I immediately called him to ask but before i could finish saying, “so i was checking my bag” he said oh Babe!i took some money from OUR bag o”, see the cheekiness, Our bag???? OUr bag??? okay sir K! how much did u take? he said it wasnt much nau! that erm he didnt actually count sha..
    YOu need to see d way i was looking at my phone… he then went on to say shey if he hadnt dropped me, i would have stil spent at least 4k going home.. i just dropped the call angrily.. after cooking for the bagger, well that for me was a total turn off point and in less than 2 months after that we broke up. He was a stingy thief.. things we do for love tho.. Never again..


  26. Oluwadamilara

    January 13, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    ‘Taking’, ‘Pinching’, ‘Moving’ or ‘whatever else you want to call it’ anything that I own individually or jointly WITHOUT and/or AFTER MY EXPRESS PERMISSION is stealing.
    Funds in a joint-account are to be expended ‘jointly’., I simply cannot accept to operate a joint-account with you in any other fashion.
    You were given my PINs in good faith; as soon as I notice ‘strange’ activity/transaction on my personal account, I’m changing the PIN…that’s a message simple enough.
    My papa no raise fool, and true love didn’t make me ‘stupid’.

  27. Honeycrown

    January 13, 2016 at 11:09 pm

    E no get another name. Na stealing.

  28. Debmara

    January 23, 2016 at 1:08 am

    As a child, I watched my parents and noticed that my mom won’t take a dime from dad without his consent, same goes for dad. Dad even had to pay mom for buying goods from her ( she had a provision store), they had this ‘your business’ mentality so no one did the wrong thing with money because, you’ve got fees to pay, house project going on and all that stuff.
    Abeg, no vex. Bros, don’t take my dime without my permission and I won’t do same. I have an issue with asking for things and I won’t learn with you, so I’ll just respect myself and contribute my quota to the home just don’t steal from me in the guise of anything at all, that ain’t funny. You won’t be happy if I do it, so don’t do it. BTW, taking without permission is stealing. nothing justifies that.

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