Prerogative of mercy on life issues is understoond to be an executive power conferred on a governor of a state or the President of a nation conferred upon them by the sacrosanct provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigerian to grant a temporary or permanent relief for a specific period of time to persons who were found guilty and convicted of any offence created by law of the State. These envisage the writer to embark on this topic.
From the sacrosanct provision of the Constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended 2011), particularly in Section 212, which deemed to be a panacea to the doer of the right and wrong in the society.
Pursuant to the legislative enactment of that provision, it remains heartrending in the minds of individual. But unfortunate to one, these was obvious, a cardinal provisions which remains an authoritative compilation and codification of our falling Heros. May their prrfect soul rest in peace.
Pursuant to the reception of English law, common law & equity, statute of general application and many other relavant Provision of the Universal Declaration Of Human Right U.D.H.R which the citizens where subjected to; It all serves as the mechanisms for the protection and Enforcement of Rights obligation with justification to its limitations exercise of every citizen.
However, I reasoned that human rights assumed a special status in every angle of earth, people relinquish their rights for the absolute observances of the Government in ensuring the protection & enforcement of same. These guaranteed right is attached to each soul for their observances is not a discretion rather mandatory on the government of a nation.
Therefore, these become nitty-gritty that even before the adoption of Common and Civil law, human right were in existence as a liberty that cannot be curtailed by an unlawful limitation.
The above position judiciously received blessings in the almighty case of RANSOME KUTI & OTHERS V ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION 1985 N.M.L.R. where the Supreme Court Held that; “……It Is a Right Which Stand Above The Ordinary Law Of The Land And Which Infact is Antecedent To The Political Society Itself”.
These has a general application in both Northern and Southern States, where the provision for the presevation of life is enshrined in the Penal Code and Criminal Code. It was provided for to be a heinous offence through which the same Code imposed its penalty and nothing can negate the enforcement if a person is found guilty.
Theoretically, not only the provision of criminal law protect and enforce death Penalty, whereas; chapter ( IV ) of the Constitution Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 As amended. In which the Sacrosanct Provision of the GRUND-NORM Respectively enshrined thus; Section 33 “Every person has A Right To Life, And No One Shall Deprived Intentionally Of His Life Save In Execution Of The Sentence Of A Court In Respect Of A Criminal Offence Of Which He was Been Found Guilty In Nigeria.”
It is pertinent to note that human life is well protected by saveral provisions of law in Nigeria.
Thus, these constitutional provision enshrined an exceptional provision to exempt a citizen who killed not be kill upon the Constitutional panacea called PERORAGATIVE OF MERCY. This is an instance which empowers a governor of a state or the president as provided by section 212 of 1999 Constitution as amended provided thus;
(1) The Governor may:
(a) grant any person concerned with or convicted of any offence created by any Law of a State pardon, either free or subject to lawful conditions;
(b) grant to any person a respite, either for an indefinite or for a specified period, of the exectution of any punishment imposed on that person for such an offence;
(c) substitute a less severe form of punishment for any punishment imposed on that person for such an offence; or
(d) remit the whole or any part of any punishment imposed on that person for such an offence or of any penalty or forfeiture otherwise due to the State on account of such an offence.
(2) The powers of the Governor under subsection (1) of this section shall be exercised by him after consultation with such advisory council of the State on prerogative of mercy as may be established by the Law of the State.
This power conferred the governor to pardon a person who killed a Person of same status to grant him pardon either for a specific or indefinite period of execution of any punishment of any offence. Such power can be exercised under the consultation of “Advisory Council” on Peroragative of Mercy established by the Laws of the State.
However, to buttress my position it shall be my response to claim the opposite, where if the adoption of several statute extend to the provision of articles of (U.D.H.R) Where Article 1 provides thus;
“All Human being are Born Free And Equal In Dignity And Right ……”
(2) No distinction shall be made on the basics of the political Jurisdictional or International Status of the country or territory to which a person belongs whether it be Independent trust non-self governing or under any other limitation of sovereign..”
Who do the law addressed to be the ” Advisory Council” on Peroragative of Mercy of a State? If it was a unilateral power of the governor of the state, what shall be the exceptional circumstances to grant a person the pardon. In the light of the sacrosanct provision of section 33 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigerian, no life shall be deprived intentionally of his right save in execution with the sentence of the court. Therefore, the same constitution went on to provide an exemption clause, exempting a person from liability of whatever offence he found guilty of.
Isah Muhammad is a penultimate law student of faculty of Law, Bayero University, Kano. He can be reached on +2347043101503 or at Isahmuhammad31@yahoo.com