Capital Punishment in Nigeria a Critical Appraisal.
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Capital punishment is the killing of a person by the state in accordance with its laws for an offence for which it is prescribed by law and for which the person is found guilty. Academic writers, jurists, philosophers and the public have expressed diverse views and opinions on the practice of capital punishment over the years. The protagonists of capital punishment justify their views on the penological objectives of deterrence, retribution and elimination inter alia. However, there is no doubt that the practice of capital punishment has attracted a barrage of global recriminations. The recriminations stemmed from the fact that the practice of capital punishment has numerous flaws such as the conviction of the innocent, selective conviction of the poor and sometimes, black offenders, especially in the United States of America and the other white dominated countries. The debate on whether the practice of capital punishment by the retentionist countries, constitute violation of a condemned prisoner’s rights to life and freedom from torture, inhuman, and degrading treatment has not only been controversial but acrimonious. Judicial authorities across the jurisdictions have decided that the practice of capital punishment per se does not constitute violation of any right, but the methods of execution and death row phenomenon. Against the backdrop of the foregoing premises, this work seeks to examine and investigate the trial process of a capital offender in Nigeria with a view of determining the level of Nigeria’s compliance with the due process requirements. The work also seeks to examine the various methods of execution of the death penalty with a view of determining whether the methods contravene the instruments on the prohibition of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment. Also, the work seeks to assess the incidence of the death row phenomenon with a view of ascertaining the average length of time that a condemned prisoner spends while waiting on the death row for execution in Nigeria. This work also highlights and examines the deterrence efficacy or otherwise of capital punishment through the analysis of the statistics obtained from the Nigeria Police Headquarters and the table used by Adeyemi in his 1989 study. In the course of this research work, the researcher found that the Nigerian Criminal Justice System as regards the legal processing of a capital offender has not been in compliance with the internationally prescribed due process requirements, and that both the pre trial and trial rights of a capital offender are flagrantly violated in Nigeria. The study also found that majority of the convicts alleged that they stayed in detention for over six months before arraignment, and were tortured by the police during interrogation. The study also revealed that trials of capital offence cases sometimes took up to 15 years to get concluded which is a violation of a right to trial within a reasonable time. This work has also revealed that none of the methods of execution is painless as there have been various instances of botched executions in lethal injection, electrocution and gas chamber, which are perceived to be the modern methods. The study also revealed that an average condemned prisoner spends up to 10 years on the death row before execution. Sequel to the foregoing, it can be safely contended that the abuse of due process rights of a capital offender abound in Nigeria. It has also been demonstrated that the death row phenomenon and the various methods of execution constitute violations of a condemned prisoner’s right to freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment. The study has also shown that capital punishment, as a disposition method in Nigeria does not have any deterrent effect and that long term imprisonment will be a suitable alternative to capital punishment. Against the backdrop of the foregoing, the researcher argues strongly for the abolition of capital punishment in Nigeria, while recommending alternative punishment for capital offenders.
Capital Punishment , Capital Offender , Deterrence , Retentionist Countries , Research Subject Categories::LAW/JURISPRUDENCE::Public law::Social welfare law
AKINGBEHIN, E.O (2012), Capital Punishment in Nigeria a Critical Appraisal. A Thesis Submitted to University of Lagos School of Postgraduate Studies Phd Thesis and Dissertation, 285pp.