Connect with us


BN Hot Topic: For or Against the Death Penalty?



The sentence passed recently on Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, the Chief Security Officer to the late General Sani Abacha, for the murder of a pro-democracy activist, Mrs. Kudirat Abiola has again sparked up several debates on the death penalty. Al-Mustapha was sentenced along with Kudirat’s aide, Lateef Shofolahan to death by hanging.

At the newspaper stand where I stopped to curiously peer at the headlines when the news first broke out, there was a debate between two men about the death penalty. One was saying Al-Mustapha deserved to die because he plotted to kill someone. “An innocent person for that matter!” he said, raising his voice in support of the Judge’s sentence. The other person argued that even if Al-Mustapha dies, it does not remove murder and corruption from the society and that there were probably other people involved in the plot who were not apprehended.

Nigeria remains one of the 58 countries still practicing the death penalty. Venezuela and Portugal were the first nations to abolish the death penalty altogether. In 2009, Burundi and Togo joined the number of countries that have abolished the death penalty to make a total of 139, more than two thirds of the nations of the world. However in China, Japan, U.S.A and many Asian, African and Middle Eastern countries, the death penalty still remains and is imposed with varying frequency.

Although Nigeria has not carried out an execution since 2006, over 900 prisoners still remain on death row. Going by the weight of this particular case, many are of the opinion that this sentence would actually be carried out.

There are several schools of thought for and against the death penalty. Some people believe that anyone who is found guilty of killing another person should be killed. Also, people believe that sentencing criminals to death removes the worst of them from the society and saves the government money from feeding and keeping the prisoner. Conversely, arguments against the death penalty abound. Some are of the concern that the state can administer the death penalty unjustly thereby killing an innocent person. In this situation, there is no possible way of compensating them for this miscarriage of justice. Most human rights groups and activists have based their arguments against the death penalty in Nigeria on the dysfunctional criminal justice system which convicts a large number of people for crimes they didn’t commit.

However, Justice Mojisola Dada while passing the sentence on the duo said that the prosecution proved “beyond reasonable doubt” that the duo met between March 1995 and June 4, 1996 to plot the murder of Kudirat.

Kudirat’s death no doubt tore deeply into the hearts of many. Her husband, M.K.O Abiola suffered much in the hands of the military government after declaring himself winner of the June 12, 1993 elections. She stood solidly behind him throughout his campaign and incarceration but was shot dead in 1996 in Lagos. M.K.O Abiola later died in prison in 1998. Al-Mustapha has been in detention since 1999 over the killing.

So then, if they are truly guilty, do they deserve the death sentence? What do you think about the death penalty in Nigeria? Do you think Al-Mustapha’s sentence was harsh? Does the death penalty really serve its purpose in Nigeria? Should it be abolished? Should he have been given a prison sentence instead of the death penalty?

Please share your thoughts.

Adeola Adeyemo is a graduate of Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from University of Lagos. However, her passion is writing and she worked as a reporter with NEXT Newspaper. She believes that anything can be written about; anything can be a story depending on the angle it is seen from and the writer's imagination. When she is not writing news or feature articles, she slips into her fantasies and creates interesting fiction pieces. She blogs at


  1. Temiloluwa

    February 10, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Death penalty should be banned.

    It is inhumane and barbaric. It is cruel and unusual punishment. Though the criminals have given up any rights they had by killing another and it gives the victim’s family their needed closure, that ‘an eye for an eye/do me I do you God no go vex’ mentality would not take one far. I think a life sentence with no possibility of appeal, parole or amnesty should be given instead.

    Life in prison is a far worse/painful punishment and a more effective deterrent. You shouldn’t proclaim the message that killing is wrong and go a-killing yourself. It doesn’t resurrect the victim and also imagine for one micro/nano second that the accused is actually innocent…Just imagine the thought of putting an innocent man to the gallows. Just not right in my opinion…

    • Dom

      February 12, 2012 at 8:25 pm

      But who would foot the bill of life in prison?

  2. Tomisin

    February 10, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    I am against the death penalty. Life imprisonment without an option of parole is a good enough punishment. We are not God, the same way these men had no right to decide when Kudirat’s life was going to end is the same way nobody has a right to determine if they should be allowed to live. Killing them does nothing for anybody involved. Does it bring the deceased back? Does it give the family closure? maybe. You want to give Kudirat Justice, find out whose orders these men were acting on and bring the fellow to book. Lock up the whole bunch of them in a cage forever, politician, sacred cow or not. We need to cleanup Nigeria of these people. But then again its Nigeria so i guess the death sentence just translates into life imprisonment for them which is just as well. While we are at it biko let’s find who killed Dele GIwa, Bola Ige and all the others.

  3. partyrider

    February 10, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    You know,all issues with Nigeria,her government and her people are always very complex and unique because of where we stand as a country today..
    the truth is the judiciary of the country is far from fair,thanks to the corrupt govt.the other day a judge sentence a guy for stealing a radio to oh?that is absurd..
    This case is a very sensitive one in Nigeria and to most NIgerians,so dont be surprised when most people support his death sentence..
    And if we must keep the death sentence,then all the politicians who murder people day and night should also face the law and a similar sentence,cos the truth is we all know who they are…those who live by the sword should die by the sword,this should be a lesson for everyone.I’m sure this guy never believed he would be caught,kept in detention for 14yrs and worse be condemned to death..

  4. Bisola

    February 10, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    do any of you know how it feels to loose ones mother to the hands of a common man(a murderer) and u think u will want the person to still be alive even in prison. just put urself in the shoes of kudirat abiola’s children before u say the judgment is harsh or not. am not been wicked just trying to put myself in dat shoes (kudirat’s family). if u dont know the killer dats another story .

  5. Berry

    February 10, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    I’m on the fence concerning the death penalty. On one hand, I don’t think it’s right for another human being (judge/jury) to decide whether someone lives or dies. However, there are some truly wicked people in this world – people who kill in cold blood, rape/torture young children, etc. And for them, I would not protest against execution.

    I’ve been out of the country for a while, but what shocked me most about this case, was that Nigeria still executes people by hanging…there are more “humane” ways

  6. chinco

    February 10, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Iv always believed, death is the easy way out 4 d wicked. So life imprisonment with hard labor and torture is a more deserving punishment or (if this new punishment can b passed), amputation of both limbs.

  7. oluwatosin

    February 10, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    OMG! This writer knws my mind. The same thoughts were written for my unpublished


    February 10, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    If it was my mother or family member (God forbid) that was killed, I will want that person killed immediately, honestly! But that will never bring them back and what does God say? Thou shall not judge. Let God do his own punishment, however to protect the nation from such criminals, they should be imprisoned for LIFE without the possibility of parole ever. No death penalty, just because of God.

  9. tosin

    February 10, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    OMG! This is d same thought dat was penned down for my unpublished article.

  10. Purpleicious Babe

    February 11, 2012 at 2:38 am

    I think its very easy to say penalty death should be banned if you have never being a victim of some horrible circumstance or better still aware of a family member that has experience horrible death or murder unjustly. Forgiveness is achieved through GRACE.

    In a complex situation like this, I tend not to give an opinion mainly because am likely to be biased and favour this and that.

    However, I can say Laws are there for a reason to govern the nation and the rights of the people, to establish the wrong /right and the acceptable attitude of individuals. Now, in naij I can say the law governing alot of individuals have failed us and most of us have had to rely on God grace for punishment and vengeance(we are still relying on his unfailing Grace)…

    In a situation such as this I have no view… other than, pls invest money into the infrastructure of our nation and pls let us get the best and access better life…

    Thank you..

  11. Anehibaby

    February 11, 2012 at 11:47 am

    The fact dat d law states: if u kill someone, u shall be killed also is not enough to stop or decrease d rate of murder in Nigeria, just shows dat it is not effective enough. Other types of punishments should be introduced in our country and d death penalty should be abolished. After all, its been there all this while and our country isn’t still safe.

  12. Earl Lemar

    February 21, 2012 at 2:24 am

    Always love to find a new and exciting part of the web!

  13. Moritzstone

    May 16, 2012 at 10:49 am

    When your only bread winner, sibling or only loved one is killed before your very own eye, then you will be in a better position to comment.but for now keep mute.

  14. Gidi

    May 16, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Have we explored the possibility of getting the judgement wrong? Are we so comfortable in the ability of our judges and the judicial system in general that we are willing to give them the power to take lives?
    Killing an innocent man for a crime he did not commit?
    Look at this;

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Star Features