Extra-judicial means happening out of court, out of the jurisdiction of the proper court. Thus, extra judicial killing means killing not sanctioned by a court of competent jurisdiction in the process of criminal trial.
There have been numerous cases of extra-judicial killings since the advent of the Nigerian nascent democracy.
This is notwithstanding the constitutional guarantee of right to life as provided in Section 33 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria as amended
33 (1) Every person has a right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria.
The only permissible limitations on the right to life are contained in section 33 (2) of the constitution which provides that.
33(2) A person shall not be regarded as having been deprived of his life in contravention of this section, if he dies as a result of the use, to such extent and in such circumstances as are permitted by law, of such force as is reasonable necessary.
(a) For the defence of property;
(b) In order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained; or
(c) For the prupose of suppressing a riot, insurrection or mutiny.
During communal conflicts, gunshots and horse whips are still instruments of compliance/obeisance employed by the security forces in Nigeria. Also in course of communal conflicts or during riots a member of the police or armed force is killed, the police or armed forces will execute revenge by ordinary a measacre of the people of the area.
The people of Odi in Bayelsa State, Obinruku in Delta State and the Tivs in Benue State have witnessed such massacre. In a democracy the government has an obligation to refrain from taking lives, though the constitution made no express provision on the duty of the state to secure life, it can be implied from other provisions of the constitution. When section 33 of the constitution is read together with section 14 (under the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy). It will be clear that the state has a duty to save life. Section 14 enacts that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.
Another aspect of extra-judicial killings, is the killings by some state actors of persons who transgress religious injunctions without violating the criminal law of the land. By section 36 (12) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, no person shall be convicted of a criminal offence unless such an offence is defined and the penalty.
Therefore is stipulated by a written law. It is my earnest desire that the Nigerian government will tame its security agencies who in most cases abuse the power of the ammunition given to them.
This in my opinion will reduce the rate of extra judicial killings in the country.