Rights Group appealed to FG to refrain from executing inmates to solve prison congestion

August 1, 2021
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The Avocats Sans Frontières France otherwise known as Lawyers Without Borders France, has called on Government of Nigeria to refrained from executing inmates on death row as a means for the decongestion of prison.

The rights group said instead of executions, action should rather be focused on reducing awaiting trial population in Custodial Centres, adding that the number of awaiting trial inmates stood at 50,992 which represents 74 per cent total inmates.

Avocats Sans Frontières France made the appeal while reacting to the recent recommendations offered by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, calling on the state governors to sign the death warrants of 3008 detainees as a means to decongest correctional facilities nationwide.

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In statement titled “ASF France urges Nigeria to refrain from executions, calls for action to reduce awaiting trial population in Custodial centres”, signed by its Head of Office in Nigeria, Mrs Angela Uwandu, Advocats Sans Frontières France, described as worrisome that out of the total prison population of 68,747 inmates, only 17,755 inmates were convicts while 50,992 inmates representing about 74% were awaiting trial.

It noted that the statistics as revealed by the Minister clearly shows that the current congestion in Nigerian Prisons was as a result of the disturbing high number of awaiting trial inmates and not the minority population on death row.

The statement partly reads: “in our view, a more constructive approach would be a declaration of a state of emergency in Nigeria’s criminal justice system with programs and initiatives rolled out to tackle the slow pace of justice delivery in Nigeria. This should be done with a view to reducing the awaiting trial population, many of whom have spent 8 years or more awaiting trial.

“The call for execution by the Minister comes at a time when many countries across the globe and particularly in Africa continue to move away from using the death penalty due to its injustices. Just 3 days ago, Sierra Leone became the latest nation to abolish the death penalty after Malawi.

“Avocats Sans Frontières France uses this opportunity to reiterate that the death penalty is Inhumane, obsolete and does serve as a deterrent. Itis used disproportionately against the poor. It is a violation of the Right to life and execution is irreversible even where fresh evidence surfaces to exonerate the convicted.

“ASF France urges the Nigerian government to declare an official moratorium on execution while it tackles the huge problem created by the awaiting trial population in Nigeria.

“We remain committed to working with national partners to address the challenge of prison congestion in Nigeria. “

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