What are criminal offences punishable by death in Nigeria?

Some criminal offences are still punishable by death in Nigeria despite global debate against it. The criminal offences punishable by death in Nigeria include the following:

  1. Murder or culpable homicide
  2. Treason
  3. Treachery
  4. Directing and controlling or presiding at an unlawful trial by ordeal from which death occurs

I suspected someone is using witchcraft power against me and also after my life in the dream. Can I kill him/her?

Do not intend it let alone carrying out such barbaric act at all. Our law in Nigeria does not recognize Juju and witchcraft. If you kill someone on this ground, you will be charged for murder and may end up being executed too. We advice you either pray for or against such witchcraft power depending on what your faith/belief provides in this situation.

Can a child under 17 years who committed offence punishable by death by killed?

No. children under 17 years of age at the time of the commission of the offence cannot be sentenced to death.

She is sentenced to death but pregnant. What happens to her baby?

A pregnant woman must be commuted until she is delivered of her baby. The baby is innocent and cannot be killed.

Is Euthanasia or mercy killing allowed in Nigeria?

Euthanasia according to Collins English Dictionary is “the act of killing a person painlessly especially to relieve suffering from an incurable disease.” In some jurisdictions/countries, it is permitted because of pains suffered by terminally ill patients. However in Nigeria, it is a crime according to Criminal Code. The following sections 311, 326, 327 and 299 provide as follows:

  • If your act or omission hastens the death of another person when he/she is labouring under some disorder or disease of another cause, you are deemed to have killed that person
  • If you counsel another to kill himself thereby induces him to do so, or aids him in killing himself, you are guilty of felony, and liable to imprisonment for life.
  • If you attempt to kill yourself but unsuccessful, you a guilty of a misdemeanor, and liable to imprisonment of one year.
  • If someone gives you a consent to kill him, do not because such consent will not exempt your from liability

Someone told me that I can kill under Self defence. Is it true?

You have to be very careful as you have been told to jump into an ocean without any knowledge of its deepness. Under self defence, you don’t aim at killing anyone who assaults you. For example, how can you kill a man who assaults you by throwing a Lacasera bottle at you and put up a claim that you kill him while defending yourself? Such person will be guilty of murder.

For self defence to hold, some conditions must be fulfilled:

  1. Someone must have assaulted you unlawfully
  2. You must not have provoked the assault
  • There must be a reasonable apprehension of death or grievous bodily harm which you are defending. It is court that will decide the reasonable test, the strength between you and the person attacking you
  1. The force you used in repelling the attack must be reasonable and proportionate to the force used by the attacker when death occurs. For example, a robber is stabbing you, you are struggling with him and the knife stabs him where death occurs is different from a man slaps you and you hit him with a big stone. If you had intention of killing another and you carried it out, self defence or defence of another will not avail you as you will be guilty of murder.

Our advice is that you kindly stay out of trouble as self defence killing is very technical and the conditions above are at the discretion of the court to decide not you the accused.

At what stage can police use ‘force’ or kill when effecting a LAWFUL arrest?

The police have the powers of arrest and can effect it with warrant where it is required by law and without warrant where necessary because if an offence is committed in the presence of a policeman, he can effect arrest without warrant so that the accused will not escape.

However, our campaign is that the police must effect a LAWFULL arrest.

Where a person has committed a felony; an offence upon conviction he can be sentenced to death or imprisonment to not less than three years, to prevent escape, a policeman can use force that is reasonably necessary.  However, where the suspect engages police in shootout or the offence is punishable by death or not less than 7 years imprisonment and there is no other means of arresting the offender who probably was shooting at the police, the police may kill. We must remind our police officer reading this that this is not a license for the police to kill innocent people as policemen too can be charged for murder or manslaughter depending on the circumstances of the case.

For example, if a suspect is trying to escape after committing murder without endangering the life of the arresting officer in anyway, shooting to kill the suspect will amount to at least offence of manslaughter. The reason being that the suspect might have committed the offence in self defence or under serious provocation but tried to escape out of fear. Killing him in the process only to find out later that he would have been innocent of the crime would be unfair.

As a law abiding citizen, when the police are effecting lawful arrest, do not engage them in physical brawl. Just try and reach your lawyer. Your lawyer is trained to help you in a situation like this especially in a circumstance where the arrest is unlawful.

Can a Police or Army Officer obey unlawful order of Superior officer to kill in order to suppress riot?

Where a riot or mutiny will result to serious mischief and destruction of lives and properties, any person acting under the orders of the armed or police forces can obey the lawful command of a superior officer in a relation to the suppression of a riot or mutiny and if willful death occurs here, it is permitted. We advise that you stay out of trouble and don’t be a threat to public peace and order.

But if the junior officer acts in pursuant of an unlawful order, he would be liable.