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21 Jan 2017

DEATH PENALTY AS A PANACEA FOR TERRORISM, CRIME AND CORRUPTION IN NIGERIA – LIZZIE DAYO

TOPIC : Education in Nigerian Entertainment Industry, the Negligence and the Way Forward

SUBMITTED BY – LIZZIE DAYO


Introduction

It is worthy of note to state that Nigeria has been rated 3rd in the global terrorism index with Afghanistan and Iraq ahead in the list, yet we uphold the tenets of the death penalty.

The U.S. Code Title 22 Chapter 38, section 2656 f (d) defines terrorism as: “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.”

Crime which can be interchanged with the word offence is defined in section 2 of the Criminal Code as an act or omission which renders the person doing the act or making the omission liable to punishment under this code, or under any Act, or Law.

Corruption is a form of dishonest or unethical conduct by a person entrusted with a position of authority, often to acquire personal benefit. Corruption may include activities like bribery and embezzlement.

Death Penalty in Nigeria

The death penalty also known as capital punishment has a long and storied history in man societies that later formed the continent of Africa, Nigeria inclusive. Aspects of death sentence existed under customary criminal justice system for certain crimes like witchcraft, murder and adultery. As a measure of punishment for these crimes, different modes of executions like hanging, stoning, burying alive were common. Executions continued in these formats until the abolition of the criminal justice process under the 1963 constitution and subsequent constitutions.

The advent of the British rule brought along the application of death penalty under the Criminal Code and Penal Code in the Southern and Northern Nigeria. The colonial government limited the crimes which carried capital punishment. Majorly, murder was the only crime that bore upon it the punishment of the death penalty.

In contemporary Nigerian criminal laws, only three offences are capital in both codes: murder (culpable homicide), treason, directing, controlling or presiding over an unlawful trial by ordeal show little similarities in their spheres. Although under the penal code, offences such as brigandage, giving false evidence in a trial which results in the conviction and execution of an innocent person, abetting the suicide of a minor, a mentally abnormal or drunken person; and attempting to commit culpable homicide by a person already serving a life sentence.

The death penalty in Nigeria spans through different methods like hanging, firing squad, stoning, electric chair, and in some developed countries, lethal injection or gas chamber were applied.

Arguments against Death Penalty

It is of my opinion that the death penalty is no panacea for terrorism, crime and corruption in Nigeria.

Firstly, the retributive theory for death penalty which states that a crime is a moral wrong and procures a need for offenders that are dangerous to the society to be prevented and also to gratify the feelings of hatred revenge or resentment, is totally absurd. In the case of Peter Abu v the State where the accused on the night of 8th March, 1994, had a dispute with his wife. The deceased wife was a Christian while the husband, a Muslim. The dispute arose over the desire of the wife to continue the attendance of church. The dispute grew violent, the accused picked a machete, attacked and killed his wife. The accused thereafter attempted suicide by hanging but he was prevented and arrested. The trial court found him guilty and sentenced him to death and on appeal, the defence suggesting that the accused was of unsound mind was rejected both by the trial court and the supreme court even when there were evidences by witnesses that the accused was found rolling on the floor and screaming with a cable wire tied around his neck.

This is a clear case of retributive sentence. The question I pose here is that who gained from the death of both husband and wife? Is it the children or the society or the judicial personnel? It is of my view that the only aim of this punishment is to revenge the murder of the wife by the husband without considering the effects of such punishment on the family, and entire society where the husband and wife lived. One of the weaknesses of the retributive theory is that there is obviously no natural and self-evident relationship between a scale of seriousness of offences and that of the severity of punishments. Retributive punishment is described as savage, barbaric and backward-looking. It therefore is no panacea for terrorism or crime or corruption.

Furthermore, the principle of deterrence which many have argued in support for the death penalty states that a punishment is given to a criminal so as to dissuade others from perpetuating such crimes. I consider this as using a human life as a means to an end and it is simply inhumane.

The fact is that criminals do not think being caught before they commit a crime. Therefore the message of deterrence may not be duly passed across to a criminal who is painstakingly planning out how he can commit a crime and get away with it. Another reason is that there have always been repeat offenders, if this principle really works, crimes that are usually severely punished should have been totally cleansed from the community. Therefore the only person who has been deterred is most likely the executed person.

It is to be noted that the United States is the only Western country currently applying the death penalty and yet has a very high degree of terrorism, crime and corruption as opposed to a country like the United Kingdom who have long abolished the death penalty.

In conclusion I assert that more funds be put into developing a system where it becomes unlikely for criminals to get away with crimes committed, that way criminals would have higher possibility of being caught and this indeed will lessen the rate of terrorism, crime and corruption in Nigeria.

Killing of humans even by the State reduces the value placed on human lives.


 


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