Capital punishment is a legal penalty in Nigeria.[1]


The death penalty is authorized by Section 33 of the Constitution of Nigeria.[2] Capital crimes include murder, terrorism-related offenses, rape, robbery, kidnapping, sodomy, homosexuality, blasphemy, adultery, incest, assisting the suicide of a person legally unable to consent, perjury in a capital case causing wrongful execution, treason, some military offences like mutiny and practice of indigenous beliefs in states applying Shariah law.[3]

Pregnant women and people younger than 18 may not be sentenced to death. If convicted of a capital offence, they will instead be sentenced to life imprisonment.[4]


Methods of executions include hanging, shooting, stoning, and since 2015, lethal injection.[5]


During the Nigerian military juntas of 1966–79 and 1983–98, the government executed its political opponents, most notoriously when General Sani Abacha ordered the execution of the Ogoni Nine by hanging in 1995.[6]

21st century

Since the transition to democracy in 1999, death sentences are often given but rarely carried out. After 2006, no executions took place until June 2013, when four prisoners on death row were hanged,[7] although about a thousand other condemned prisoners were awaiting execution at the time.[8] The next executions occurred in 2016, when three men were hanged for murder and armed robbery.[9]

On 17 December 2014, after being found guilty of conspiracy to commit mutiny, 54 Nigerian soldiers were sentenced to death by firing squad.[10] The trial was held secretly by a military tribunal.[11]

The use of the death penalty in Nigeria has generated debate.[12] In October 2014, former Delta State Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan pardoned three inmates who were on death row following the recommendations by the State Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy.[13] In 2017, the Nigerian government rejected the call by Amnesty International to halt the planned execution of some inmates in Lagos State.[2]

In May 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic, a court in Lagos used a video conferencing application to issue a death sentence.[14]

See also

Further reading


  1. ^ Adeyemi, Ayodeji (4 December 2013). "Waiting endlessly on Nigeria's death row". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Death penalty: You cannot decide for Nigeria – FG carpets Amnesty International". Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  3. ^ "The Death Penalty in Nigeria". Death Penalty Worldwide. Archived from the original on 20 December 2019. Retrieved 5 September 2017.
  4. ^ Ondo State of Nigeria Official Gazette, Law No. 2 of 2016, Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2015. Akure: Ondo State Government. 2016.
  5. ^ Nwachukwu, J.B. (April 26, 2017). "Death penalty in Nigeria: Constitutional but unconventional". Business Day. Archived from the original on April 26, 2017.
  6. ^ "Nigeria's Military Leaders Hang Playwright and 8 Other Activists". 11 November 1995.
  7. ^ Hirsch, Afua (2013-06-25). "Nigeria hangs four prisoners". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  8. ^ "Politics this week". The Economist, page 8. 29 June 2013. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  9. ^ "Death sentences and executions in 2016". Retrieved August 21, 2017.
  10. ^ "Nigerian soldiers given death penalty for mutiny". BBC News. 17 December 2014. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  11. ^ Nnochiri, Ikechukwu (22 December 2014). "Alleged mutiny: Hon flays secret trial, conviction of soldiers". Vanguard (Nigeria). Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  12. ^ "Dons disagree on abolition of death penalty in Nigeria". Premium Times. 19 July 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  13. ^ "Uduaghan Pardons 77-year-old On Death Row". Information Nigeria. 7 October 2014. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  14. ^ Adebayo, Bukola (7 May 2020). "A man was sentenced to death via Zoom in Nigeria, sparking criticism from rights groups". CNN. Retrieved 2020-05-08.

Further reading