Amnesty practice appears to have gradually crept into the Nigerian constitutional law practice, though without any direct constitutional backing. This conclusion is premised on the amnesty option adopted by the Federal Government of Nigeria in handling the Niger Delta militants as well as the clamour by a few persons for the offer of amnesty to the Boko Haram sect and option of forgiveness and reconciliation adopted by the Oputa Panel. It has been identified that amnesty practice most time is premised on factors which may be socio-economic, political, environmental, etc, which factors most of the times constitute an affront on the legal demand for penal justice. The paper therefore reveals that the executive practice of amnesty in the manner it was approached by the Federal Government and may be repeated in the future lacks sufficient constitutional back up. It further reveals that the said amnesty may not debar the beneficiaries from criminal prosecution at international law. While conceding that the social considerations for the practice of amnesty is of overriding status if placed against the demand for penal justice, it is suggested that the constitutional provision being relied upon for the grant of amnesty in Nigeria be beefed up to avoid future constitutional conundrum.
Authors: Brown E. Umukoro