Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues (Print ISSN: 1544-0036; Online ISSN: 1544-0044)


Right to Life and the State's Power to Kill: the Quandary over Death Penalty in Nigeria

Author(s): James E Archibong

Nigeria has retained capital punishment despite the global movement in favor of its abolition. Notwithstanding the federal government's suspension of executions in 2004, some prisoners were sent to the gallows in 2006, 2013, and 2016. Presently, prisoners awaiting execution exceed 3,000, occasioned by state governors' hesitation to endorse execution warrants. Human rights groups have consistently called for its abolition in Nigeria, but this has been rebuffed by the government. This work probes the notion of the death penalty in Nigeria and the dilemma of the authorities entrusted with its implementation. It has also examined the debate to abolish or retain it, against the backdrop of Nigeria's present social, economic, religious, and multicultural circumstances. It finds that the death penalty is a human right issue and Nigeria should join the majority of states that have dispensed with the practice. The paper advocates a legally-backed and permanent suspension of executions and the eventual abolition of this form of punishment through a constitutional amendment.

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