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PROJECT TOPIC- Capital punishment and reason for adoption as penalty against some offenses committed against the law of a society

PROJECT TOPIC- Capital punishment and reason for adoption as penalty against some offenses committed against the law of a society




Man as a higher order animals is differentiated from other lower animals by his ability to reason. Thus, as a rational being, man is conscious of his behaviours and conducts in his relation to his kinds in the society in which he belongs. Rationality of man makes him a moral  being whose personhood is basically constituted of consciousness, reason-ability and morality. Morality therefore becomes a systematic network that guides the relationships that exist among people in a society.

 However, man’s intermediate and diabolic nature becomes a problem to himself and to the society at large, and due to the difference in degree of reasoning and value judgment which influence man’s way of behaviour, it becomes impossible for man to be objectively perfect. Meanwhile, the unpredictable nature of man is undoubtedly the chance that man can still violate laid down moral standard of the society which he belongs.

Because of the above reason, there is the need to give a code of moral conduct that every member of a given society would abide to so as to maintain harmony and peaceful co-existence in the society. Honestly speaking, experience has undoubtedly inform people that introducing a moral code of conduct does not and cannot perfectly and completely prevent some of them from indulging in immoral acts that violate the laid down moral standard of a society.

Because of this reason, there is the need for deserting means by which such  immoral acts of people could be checked. Moreover, due to the fact that offences varies in degree of measures against immoral acts and their effects on humanity and on the society at large, the degree of measures against immoral acts also varies in proportion to the offences it tries to check.

       Hence, punishment becomes varied according to the degree of offences it is meted out against. Thus, in the consideration of punishment, capital punishment attract much concern and debate in its moral consideration. Hence at this juncture, one may ask: what is capital punishment?

However, before answering the above question, it would be much helpful to first of all look at what punishment is. Explaining what punishment is, John Rawls, “two concepts of Rules” in the philosolophy of punishment: A collection of papers, writes:

A person is said to suffer punishment where he is legally deprived of some comfort on the ground that he has violated a rule of law, the violation having been established by trail according to the due process of law, provided that the deprivation is carried out by the recognized legal authority of the state, that the rule of law clearly specifies both the offence and the penalty attached, that the courts construes states strictly, and that the status was on books prior to the time of the offence  (111-12).

In the above view, punishment is seen as a way of deprivation of right of an individual because of the offence committed by him or her against the law and as already stated in the book of law before such offences was committed. In the same manner, William Paley in his article “punishment” in law and morality holds that the proper end of punishment is not the satisfaction of justice but the prevention of crime. According to him punishment is an evil to which the magistrate resorts only from its being necessary for the prevention of greater evil. Hence he writes:

The proper end of human punishment is not the satisfaction of justice, but the prevention of crime. By the satisfaction of justice, I mean the retribution of so much pain for so much guilt, which is the dispensation we expect at the hand of God, and which are accustomed to consider as the order of things that perfect justice, dictates and requires in what sense, or whether with truth in any sense, justice may be said to demand the punishment of offenders, I do not know requires, but asserts that this demand is not the motive or occasion of human punishment (38).

William Paley is of the view that punishment is itself evil but of a lower order used in preventing a bigger or higher order of evil. Meanwhile, capital punishment as it can be understood is the execution of a crime pursuant to a sentence of death imposed by a competent court. It however, means that capital punishment is meted act against individuals who have committed capital offences.

 Nevertheless, in Nigeria, the case is the same that some measures are deserted as ways of checking evils in the society, including capital punishment. However, the corollary of capital punishment is both seen in the traditional measures used in checking crimes in the traditional society and how it has been evolutionased in the contemporary society of Nigeria. Thus, this study is basically concerned on the investigation into the capital punishment in the traditional and contemporary Nigerian society. This work will be philosophically evaluated to show vividly its moral stand point as a (i.e capital punishment) as a human act.

PROJECT TOPIC- Capital punishment and reason for adoption as penalty against some offenses committed against the law of a society

1.2  Statement of the Problem

Capital punishment, that is, the execution of or sentencing an offender to death has been on the debate table for a long time among different schools of thought in moral philosophy. However, in this study capital punishment is subjected to philosophical evaluation, i.e, trying to evaluate the moral value of capital punishment in the view of traditional and contemporary Nigeria society so as to establish its pros and cons in moral development.

Thus, Owing to the above facts, the researcher therefore, raises the following questions as a guide to the study: what is capital punishment?, what are the forms of capital punishment and other theories of punishment? Why is capital punishment employed in both traditional and contemporary Nigerian society to checkmate certain crimes in the society? What are the positions of some moral views concerning capital punishment? Is capital punishment for moral development in Nigeria?

These and other related issues bearing on this study are discussed to unveil the value of capital punishment in the traditional and contemporary Nigeria society.

1.3  The Purpose of the Study

Observing and keeping moral standard in the society is an order of maintaining and keeping healthy relationship with others in the society. In the same vein, the outline moral standard in a society is to profer ways by which people’s conducts could be regulated in the society. Retributively, suitable penalties should as well be made against anybody whose may go against those laid-down rules and laws in the society. One of such penalties as it is considered in this study is capital punishment.

 Meanwhile, the purpose of this study is to expose capital punishment and its forms, and such punishable offences that attract capital punishment. Besides, this study seeks to unveil the understanding and values of capital punishment to both traditional and contemporary society of Nigeria. In the long run, a clear ground will be expanciated to show the position of the researcher concerning capital punishment especially as it is concerned Nigerian’s traditional society and contemporary society. In summary, the purpose of this study is to expose and evaluate capital punishment in traditional and contemporary Nigeria society.

1.4  Significance of the Study

The relevance of this study is noted in its efforts to expose the meaning of capital punishment, and why it is adopted as a penalty against some offences committed against the law of a society. Consequent to the above reason, the study also exposed those punishable offences both in the traditional and the contemporary Nigerian society that attract capital punishment.

Nevertheless, this will enlighten the readers of this work and consequently the general public on the reason for capital punishment as a measure to checkmate human conducts on certain issues against the entire society (i.e men and the entire society), such issues like criminal offences, therefore, it is expected that the revisitation of this study on such issues like capital punishment will go a long way in curbing high rate of crimes sin Nigerian society.

However, the study, in its investigation suggested for amendment of some legislative laws that rigid on capital punishment. Such laws like shoot order at the scene of crime, given to military personnel. Some traditional penal laws that empower the act of jungle justice in Nigerian society. Above all, the study will serve as material for further study on capital punishment since it will be kept in the school library.

1.5  Scope of the Study

The study examined the value of capital punishment in the traditional and contemporary Nigerian society. In the investigation, the study looked at exactly what capital punishment is all about. Why it is adopted as a penalty against some criminal offences in Nigeria. How effective it has been in checking criminal offences in Nigeria. The sum up of the above points thus gives the value of capital punishment in Nigeria. Meanwhile, the study did not take capital take capital punishment beyond its jurisdiction in Nigeria penal code; both in traditional and contemporary Nigeria.

1.6  Method of the Study

       The methods the study adopted throughout the investigation expository, argumentative, analytical and evaluative. The above mentioned methods served as tools with which the objective of this study was actualized. Besides the above mentioned method, library materials like text books, journals, magazines , New papers, etc, and internet materials were consulted and used throughout the study.

1.7  Explanation of Key Terms

       There are key terms used throughout the study, and thus needed clarification to enhance better and comprehensive understanding of the study. They are as shown below:

  1. Punishment: Punishment is a reaction shown by an individual or groups against offence(s) committed by some one or group of persons. It equally shows a disapproved of an action termed or seen or known to be crime. In a more coherent way, something negative or unpleasant on a person or animal in response to behaviour deemed wrong by an individual or group.
  2. Offence: Offence is an action of man done in contrary to the laid down norms of a society in which the person lives. It can be otherwise termed abnormination, because it defiles the constitutional guide to human conducts laid b the rules and norms of people in the society. Thus, offensive act is an act that is considered morally wrong and which violates laid down rules of a given land or society. This type of act always and usually attracts punishment.

iii.    Capital: This is type of offence that is said to have violated human right especially the right to life. It stands as the victim, from another who is the perpetrator or the doer of such an action. Because capital offence undermines dignity of life and violates life in its entirety, capital punishment is adopted and used to check it. Capital punishment on the other hand, is imposed on one who have committed capital offence and who is convicted. It deprives the life of the offender through execution.

  1. Morality: This is the ethical conception by which an action is judged to be either bad or good, wrong or right. It is understands as the ability of one to have a good and quality judgment of one’s action or that of others. But in lay sense, morality denotes an acceptable way or norm of doing things in a given context in an organization or in a society.
  2. Rationality: This is a special quality of a human being which enables him to discern reasonably in his behaviours to know if it is right or wrong to undertake such behaviours. Rationality also makes man to be autonomous over his consequences of his action. Rationality makes man a free moral being who has the freedom to choice making toward his actions.

PROJECT TOPIC- Capital punishment and reason for adoption as penalty against some offenses committed against the law of a society

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