Avocats Sans Frontières France also known as Lawyers Without Borders have berated Nigeria’s minister of Interior, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola for seeking the execution of 3008 prisoners on death row in a bid to decongest Custodial Centres.
During the inauguration of the Osun State Command headquarters Complex of the Nigeria Correctional Service on Friday last Week in Osogbo, Aregbesola, called on Governors to sign the death warrants of 3008 detainees as a means to decongest Correctional facilities nationwide.
But in a Press statement endorsed by the lawyers, say it is deeply concerned by the recent recommendations offered by the Minister of Interior as a means to decongesting prisons all over the Country.
It said: “it is worrisome to learn that out of the total prison population of 68,747 inmates, only 17,755 inmates are the actual convicts with 50,992 inmates representing about 74 percent are awaiting trial”.
While urging Nigeria to refrain from executions, the human rights defender watchdog, reiterated that the death penalty is Inhumane, obsolete and does serve as a deterrent. It is 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.
Avocats Sans Frontières France observed that “The statistics as revealed by the Minister clearly shows that the current congestion in Nigerian Prisons is as a result of the disturbing high number of awaiting trial inmates and not the minority population on death row.
“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”, according to the statement.
ASF France also urge 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.