Generally in Nigeria, any person who kills another person unlawfully is guilty of murder and would be punished with death. However there are some categories of people exempted by the law from death penalty. Such individuals include:
1. Mentally deranged/ Insane persons:
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines a deranged person is someone who is unable to think or act in a normal or logical way especially because of severe mental illness. The law believes that a person who lacks the mental capacity to commit an offence is generally not at fault.
According to Section 27 of the Criminal Code, every person is presumed to be of sound mind or to have been of sound mind at any time which comes in question until the contrary is proved.
Section 28 of the Criminal Code also provides that a person is not responsible for an act or omission done by him if he is affected by delusions that prevents him from knowing if he did or omitted to do such act.
2. Pregnant women:
When a person guilty of a capital offence punishable with death is pregnant, the courts will not execute such sentence. This is in accordance with the right of a person to life as codified in Section 33 of the Nigerian Constitution. The unborn child is believed to be innocent, and the law would not punish an innocent person for the crime of another. Therefore, instead of her to be sentenced to death, she will be imprisoned for life.
3. Young Offenders:
Section 270 of the Criminal Procedure Code states that no sentence of death shall be imposed on a person who is under 17 years of age. Rather, such offender will be remanded in juvenile detention.
4. Nursing mothers:
Section 221(2) and (3) of the Child Rights Act provides that no expectant or nursing mother can be subjected to the death penalty. Instead, an alternative punishment commensurate with the crime committed will be meted out to her.
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