Human rights group has condemned a recent federal government order that states can execute prisoners on death row as part of a fresh attempt to decongest terribly crowded prisons across the country.
The Legal Defence Assistance Project (LEDAP), which has promoted campaign against capital punishment, said the mandate given by the National Economic Council on Tuesday that states begin to endorse death warrants, represents its “insensitivity.”
“LEDAP condemns in its entirety the council’s pronouncement and their insensitivity by resolving to embark on signing execution warrants,” the group said in a release signed by its National Coordinator, Chino Obiagwu, yesterday.
LEDAP argued that the execution of about 820 prisoners currently on death row in the country, can hardly be significant enough to de-crowd a prison population estimated at over 45,000.
“Can executing a mere 820 people decongest prisons? The congestion of prisons in Nigeria is caused by the delay in processing and prosecution of cases of prisoners on awaiting trials, which is about 72% of the total prison inmates in Nigeria,” LEDAP said.
The government’s resolution was arrived at the council’s meeting chaired by the vice president, Namadi Sambo on June 15, 2010, in a renewed government effort at reducing population number of inmates in various prisons.
Speed up trials
The council said the cases will be reviewed to determine those who should face execution, and those to be sentenced or pardoned depending on the enormity of crimes held for. Human Rights organizations have said majority of the inmates are awaiting trial and have remained held for years by a strenuous and sluggish judicial process in the country.
Executing the few death convicts, they say, will do little to clear the prisons but at the same time will hamper the image of Nigeria at a time countries are encouraged to dump the capital punishment.
Although formally Nigeria had not ratified the United Nations treaty to discontinue the practice, official executions have not been carried out for years.
The Group however called “for an overhaul of the criminal justice system, implementation of the recommendations of the National Study Group on Death Penalty which was set up by the Federal Government in 2003, the establishment of pre-detention centers and new prisons for awaiting trial persons and convicts, the fast-tracking of prosecution and justice delivery system, the re-training of police and judicial personnel.”Source