The legal infliction of death as a penalty for violating criminal law has been in existence from time immemorial, people have been put to death for various forms of wrong doings and methods of execution have included crucifixion, stoning, drowning, burning at stake, impaling and beheading. Today capital punishment is typically accomplished by lethal gas or injection, electrocution, hanging or shooting.The human right proponents see death penalties as a violation of the right to life and human dignity as such countries that are becoming more democratic are eager to abolish it. The trend in most industrialized nations has been to first stop executing prisoners and then substitute long terms of imprisonment for death as the most severe of criminal penalties, about 90 nation have abolished death penalties and an almost equal number of nations, (most of which are developing countries in which Nigeria is included) have retained it This thesis considers the argument for and against death penalty in relation to human rights, the argument against this concept goes beyond the Human Right Parlance, as there are other arguments like; the propensity to condemn and execute innocent citizens, the non-deterrent effect of capital punishment, the arbitrary use of the concept against the poor, the discriminately application of the concept on the basis of race, and the ‘lesser argument’ that proclaims that capital punishment is cruel and inhuman. All these argument have not been reckoned with by anti-abolitionist, as some of them have come up with other modes of executions that they believe are more humane and less cruel, the sole aim of this is to kill the argument of ‘cruel and inhuman treatment’ The retributive nature of the human race would rather love that a murderer be necessarily paid back in His own coin, this is believed to be the anti-abolitionist main reason for insisting on the retention of death penalty. If the cost of executing an innocent person and abolishing the concept of death penalty is compared, it would be discovered that, it is more beneficial to abolish the use of death penalty than to lose valuable citizens to wrongful executions. Moreover, countries that have substituted life sentence for death penalty are not worse off than countries that have retained it.


The main objective of this study is to critically examine the advent of and development of the doctrine of death penalty in relation to human right law and to look into various provisions of the law both local and foreign and to compare its use in Nigeria to that of other countries, so as to know its effect on the economy and society at large and to reasonably make recommendations afterwards.


The scope of this write-up is within the ambits of criminal law, with emphasis on the fundamental human rights which will be examined under human rights. This work will cut across Nigerian and some other foreign countries. In fact, reference will be made to some United Nations Treaties and jurisdiction when necessary. This work will majorly centre on Nigeria as a country.


This work will be argumentative in nature because of its controversial and sensitive nature, legal and rational reasoning will be used to bring out various arguments systematically. Opinions of people will be sought through questionnaires and personal interviews, legal writings such as text books, law reports, and internet research tools on contemporary issues of law shall be examined. Extensive research measures will be put in place to ensure that this write up is comprehensive enough to combat the present day use of capital punishment. To enhance the effectiveness and comprehensiveness of this research, the use of capital punishment by nation will be examined and compared to the its non-use by certain nations so as to ascertain the effectiveness of or benefits embedded in the use of capital punishment (if there is any)


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