Ever since independence, the criminal justice system of Nigeria has accommodated capital punishment which is also known as “death penalty”, as a punitive measure for specifically defined offences. In the past 15 years, scholars, researchers and students of penology and criminology have championed the debate for abolition of death penalty and vice versa. As of December 31st 2013, the number of abolitionist states stood at 140, while that of the retentionist States stood at 58, with Nigeria being one of the retentionist countries .
On one hand, those who support the continued retention of death penalty under the Nigeria Legal System argue that death penalty is the obvious punishment just enough for a person who has taken the life of another or for crimes that threaten the very existence or survival of a State. However, the crux of their arguments centres mainly on the purpose of deterrence, which death penalty is alleged to have on would be offenders. On the other hand, those who argue against the continued retention of the death penalty under the Nigeria criminal justice system argues that the true fact is that their intention for continued retention, is hidden deep in the obnoxious, though unadmitted desire for retribution.
In this research work the case for and against the abolition of capital punishment under Nigeria’s criminal justice system is examined with the view of ascertaining which system is most favourable for Nigeria.
This work is divided into four chapters: chapter one deals with an introduction to this work, the historical framework of capital punishment in Nigeria and the definition of terms used in the work.
Chapter two deals with the concept of punishment, its various types, some modes of execution of capital punishment.
Chapter three covers the arguments for and against the abolition of capital punishment. Flaws in the arguments on both sides are also considered.
Chapter four deals with the conclusion of this research work and plausible recommendations.
The methodology employed is doctrinal and argumentative. Recourse would be made to textbooks, Law reports, journals and editorials. Materials would be sourced from law libraries and the internet.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TITLE PAGE i
TABLE OF CASES vii
TABLE OF STATUTES viii
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ix
TABLE OF CONTENTS xi
CHAPTER ONE 1
GENERAL INTRODUCTION 1
1.1 INTRODUCTION 1
1.2 FORMS OF PUNISHMENT 3
1.2.1 INCARCERATION (IMPRISONMENT) 4
1.2.2 CORPORAL PUNISHMENT 6
1.2.3 BANISHMENT 8
1.2.4 CAPITAL PUNISHMENT 9
1.3 WHAT IS CAPITAL PUNISHMENT 11
1.4 HISTORY OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT 11
CHAPTER TWO 17
CAPITAL PUNISHMENT AND MODES OF EXECUTION 17
2.1 INTRODUCTION 17
2.2 STONING 17
2.3 HANGING 18
2.4 CRUCIFIXION 19
2.5 SHOOTING OR FIRING SQUAD 20
2.6 GAS CHAMBER OR LETHAL GAS MODE OF EXECUTION 22
2.7 ELETROCUTION 23
CHAPTER THREE 25
ARGUMENTS FOR AND AGAINST THE ABOLITION OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT 25
3.1 ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT 25
3.1.1 DETERRENCE 25
3.1.2 INCAPACITATION 27
3.1.3 JUST PUNISHMENT 28
3.1.4 CONSTITUTIONAL BASIS 30
3.2 FLAWS IN THE ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENTS 33
3.3 ARGUMENTS AGAINST CAPITAL PUNISHMENT 36
3.3.1 PROPENSITY TO CONDEMN INNOCENT DEFENDANTS 37
3.3.2 ARBITRARY APPLICATION AGAINST THE POOR 38
3.3.3 COMPARING COST TO BENEFITS 40
3.3.4 APPLICATION OF THE PUNISHMENT ON THE BASIS OF RACE 43
3.4 FLAWS IN THE ARGUMENTS AGAINST CAPITAL PUNISHMENT 45
CHAPTER FOUR 49
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS 49
4.1 CONCLUSION 49
4.2 RECOMMENDATIONS 51