Fact summary, Issues and Judgment of Court In R v Bangaza (1960) 5 F.S.C. 1: In every society, there are laws set up to control and regulate the activities and behavior of citizens in the said society. Rules and regulations help maintain order in a society or community to ensure that the individual rights of citizens are not infringed upon by other citizens.
In Nigeria, the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria serves as the grund norm of the country from which all other laws in the country derives validity. The section 1 of the 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria provides for the Supremacy of the constitution above all other laws in the country. The constitution also provides for certain inalienable rights available to all Nigerian citizens, these rights are termed fundamental human rights.
The most important fundamental human right is the right to life. The right to life simply provides that every single person in a country has the right to live and that no one has the right to unconstitutional take away the life of another. The unlawful killing of a person by another person is heavily frowned up in the society and carries very severe sentences.
The criminal code in section 316 provides for murder which is one of the unlawful homicides punishable by law. Murder is a very serious offense in any known society in the world today and many a times the penalty for it is death. According to the criminal code if the offender had intended to cause the death of a person killed it that of some other person or if the offender intends to do the person killed or to some other person some grievous harm then the act in question is murder.
The position of the law is that a person shall not be put to death if at the time of conviction he/she is below the age of 17. If he /she however is above the age of 17 then he will be put to death and sentence carried out in accordance with the law. This was the resolution reached by the court in the case of R v Bangaza, which is analyzed below.
The court in the case applied section 368(3) of the criminal procedure act and came to the conclusion that the age at the time of conviction was the deciding factor. If it can be proved that the offender was below the age of 17 then the capital punishment would not be carried out.
The court also contrasted with the position in England and Scotland which provided that it was the age st the time of arrest. The court was However bound by the Nigerian position.
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Fact summary of R v Bangaza
The appellants in the said case were convincted in the high Court of the northern region for killing a certain Yaya Bangaza. The judge accepted evidence which showed that the appellants had killed the deceased by hitting and attacking him with sticks with the intention of causing him grievous harm. Their reason for attacking him was to average the assault which had be carried out on their own younger brother. They were convicted for the murder of Yaya.
The killing of the deceased took place in 1950 and soon after the killing the appellants had fled to Bornu. They finally handed themselves over to the authorities in 1959. Their trial took place in December of 1959. The judge considered that at the time of the crime the appellants could be considered boys but however held that they had attained the age of criminal responsibility which was 12.
The judge acknowledged the section 368(3) of the criminal procedure ordinance which provided that a person who has been sentenced to death for a capita offense could not be put to death if he/she had not attained the age of 17. The judge however concluded that the appellants could not rely on this provision. The court pointed out that it was the age of the appellants at the date of the conviction that would be the deciding factor whether or not he could rely on the section or not. The appellants could have relied on the section if he/she had not run away to Bornu after the killing of Yaya bangaza.
This section could be constrated with the position in England and Scotland found in section 9(3) of their homicide act, 1957. This section makes the age of the said offender at the date of the commission of the offense the deciding factor. The criminal procedure ordinance was the applicable law in Nigeria. The judge applying the law dismissed the appeal.
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Issues raised R v Bangaza
- Whether a person arrested at the age below 17 can be put to death?
Decision of the court in R v. Bangaza
The appellant in the had assaulted one Yaya bangaza, attacking him with sticks which eventually lead to his death. Their main reason for attacking him was in connection with an attack meted out to there younger brother. Yaya bangaza died from his injuries and as such the appellants were charged with his murder.
The appellants soon after the attack had run away to Bornu but subsequently surrendered themselves to the authorities in 1959. The court in applying section 368(3) of the criminal procedure ordinance held that a person convicted of a capital offense could not be put to death if he or she had not attained the age of 17. The court ruled that the appellants could not rely on this provision because the provision only applied if the accused was below the age of 17 at the time of conviction. The court held that the appellants could not rely on the provision since they were above the age of 17. The court acknowledged the fact that the appellants at the time of the offense could rightly be considered boys but however they had attained the age of 12.
The position under the Nigerian criminal ordinance could be contrasted with the position England and Scotland under their homicide act of 1957. The position is that it was the age of the offender at the time of arrest that mattered. The court in Nigeria are bound to follow and apply the criminal procedure ordinance and as such the appeal was dismissed.
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