Congestion: Execution of condemned inmates not a solution – Coalition

The Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) an NGO, has urged the Federal and State governments not to execute condemned inmates to decongest Custodial Centres.
It made the call in a statement issued on Wednesday in Abuja in collaboration with the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) Forum on Detention and Corrections.

The statement, signed by 19 CSOs and released by PRAWA’s spokesperson, Mrs Ogechi Agu, said execution of the inmates would not add value to the quest for a crime-free society.
It said the forum agreed with Rauf Aregbesola, Minister of Interior, on the need to close cases involving thousands of condemned criminals waiting for execution.
However, it said, “We do not subscribe to the Minister’s call for the execution of these persons for many reasons.

“We see the request for execution of inmates as a consequence of the failure of Nigeria to heed the call of the United Nations General Assembly to establish a moratorium on execution of death sentences.
“This is a huge detraction from the substantially good records Nigeria maintained in terms of ratification of international human Rights instruments.”
The forum said the call for execution was a dent on the human rights records of the country, which had consequences for the image of the country.
“It is the position of our Forum that the execution of inmates cannot be a solution to congestion which obviously is not caused by the presence of such inmates in custody,” it said.

It said rather it would be counterproductive in terms of negating the principles of dignity, respect of every human being and sanctity of human life as captured in several human rights instruments ratified by Nigeria.
It also said it was pertinent to call the attention of the government to several contextual issues that may make it unconscionable for the governors to sign the warrants for execution.

“Compliance with several safeguards set by different human rights instruments to guard against having an innocent person pay the ultimate price for an offense he or she may not have committed is still in doubt.
“Access to Justice for the poor in Nigeria remains a huge struggle till date; torture remains hugely a source of procuring evidence.
“Imagine the injustice in executing an innocent person based on evidence procured through torture.

“Again, what is the justice in such mass execution when most of the persons involved cannot afford legal representation to challenge their sentences at the appellate courts?” the forum queried.
It, therefore, urged Nigeria to tow the line of the argument of Death penalty opponents who regard the death penalty as inhumane and criticise it for its irreversibility.

“They argue also that capital punishment lacks deterrent effect, discriminates against minorities and the poor and encourages a ‘culture of violence.’
“Where abolishment of death penalty is not immediately achievable, Nigeria should in the meantime establish formally a moratorium on execution of those on death sentence.

“This appeal is made more persuasive by the fact of existing legislative step already taken to address this issue in the NCoS Act 2019,” said the forum. (NAN)