Illegitimacy of Capital Punishment: Its Unethical Contemporary Resurgence in Igboland, Nigeria.


Murder was proscribed even as a retaliatory measure as Gen 4:15 cautions: if any one kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over. This divine injunction was re-enforced by the Decalogue's You shall not kill (Ex 20:13) as handed to Moses. Igbo ancestral heritage preserved a similar ethical value as it made Igbo hospitality part of a cherished religiosity. Murder was absolutely forbidden. Blood is considered the principle of life and therefore sacred. Any offender who lets blood must be compelled to placate the goddess of the land or face banishment. The Nigerian-Biafra War incidentally allowed the practice of Jungle Justice whereby infiltrators were instantly killed. Hitherto, robbers like infiltrators receive death sentence from the mob that have lost faith in both the police and the judiciary. The police allegedly connive with robbers, ally with the judiciary, and intimidate people acts reminiscent of power misuse that makes them lose their ethical relevance. The mob usurps power to rid the society of bandits before they escape. This contemporary societal cleansing clashes with the original ethical position of Igbo people on capital punishment as it enshrines jungle justice despite the intervention of Mary Slessor. This effort calls on Igbo people to control the prevalence of Jungle Justice. It calls on the police to sit up and beckons on all to be guided by the index of a developing society. Nigeria cannot be developing when a segment of the total polity still remain wolves to fellow humans.

Author Information
Cornelius Agwajobi Omeike, Anambra State University, Nigeria

Paper Information
Conference: ECAH2015
Stream: Ethics - Ethics

This paper is part of the ECAH2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon