In the oldest written records of human history such as the Code of Hammurabi in the ancient Babylon, the Neo-Sumerian Code of Ur-Nammu and Torah, a Jewish Law, capital punishment has been employed as a form of punishment for various degrees of offences. It entails punishment by killing a person who has been convicted of having committed a capital offence, such as murder. This phenomenon has continued to exist despite modern civilisation, and is being used by several countries around the globe today. In Nigeria, capital punishment is and has remained the integral part of the criminal justice system, used as an arrow head for punishing offenders who commit offences classified as capital offences. However, capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, continues to spark controversies, heated debates, and arguments in Nigeria and worldwide. The main focus of this research, titled 'Capital Punishment in Nigerian Criminal Law,' is to critically examine the general concept of capital punishment, evaluate various theories, arguments both for and against its use, and assess its deterrent effect on criminals. The research methodology employed is analytical. The findings indicate that capital punishment does indeed deter potential offenders when applied judiciously and under appropriate circumstances. The paper recommends providing adequate legal representation to accused individuals facing capital charges, especially those who cannot afford legal counsel, to ensure a fair trial and reduce the risk of wrongful convictions and executions. It also suggests conducting public awareness campaigns to educate the populace about the implications and consequences of capital punishment and promoting informed public discourse on the topic, among other measures.

• Introduction
The conception of capital punishment as a form of punishment for wrongdoings considered as heinous crimes, spanned through centuries of human existence.1 It is the sentence of death for a serious crime2 and entails punishment by killing a person who has been convicted of having committed a capital offence, such as premeditated murder. From time immemorial, the stability of society has been maintained through the enforcement of penalties for crimes and wrongdoings as human beings continued to assemble together for the collective welfare of humanity.

As nations in the form of ancient republics, monarchies or tribal oligarchies developed in certain parts of the world3 and distinct social classes like royalty, nobility, commoners, and slaves emerged, the informal systems of tribal arbitration gave way to more organised systems of justice. These systems formalised relationships among different segments of the population, transcending tribal divisions. Consequently, there arose a pressing need for the structured organisation of society, complete with a criminal justice system.4

The earliest and most famous example is the Code of Hammurabi which set out the different punishments and compensations according to the different class of victims, perpetrators and crimes. Another is the Torah,6 a Jewish Law, also known as the Pentateuchthe first five books of the Christian Old Testament, which lays down the death penalty for murder, kidnapping, magic, violation of the Sabbath, blasphemy, and a wide range of sexual crimes, although evidence suggests that actual executions were rare.7

A further example comes from Ancient Greece, where the Athenian legal system was first written down by Draco in about 621 BC, death penalty was applied for a particularly wide range of crimes, although Solon later repealed Draco's code and published new laws, retaining only Draco's homicide statutes.8 The word ‘‘Draconian’’ as in draconian laws is derives from Draco's laws.9 It is also notable that the Romans also used death penalty for a wide range of offenses.10

• Statement of the Problem
In Nigeria, punishment has always existed in various forms as sanctions for breaches of accepted rules of conduct. But the issue of capital punishment has become so controversial in the Nigerian criminal justice sector that each time it comes up, its applicability sparks off a heated debate and arguments between the proponents and opponents of death penalty, with the former calling for its retention and effective application in the criminal justice system and the later advocating its complete abolition. Nonetheless, the best justification for criminal justice system in any society cannot be over emphasised because the human society needs to be preserved by every lawful means necessary. This is why from time immemorial, dangerous animals especially those with deadly pedigree and venoms like lions, snakes and many others were taken out of human population and assemblies.

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Item Type: Project Material  |  Size: 75 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.


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