HURILAWS tasks judges to declare death penalty unconstitutional in Nigeria.
•Stop torturing, traumatizing of death row inmates, ASF France seeks suspension of executions
Human Rights Law Service (HURILAWS) has urged judges in Nigeria to declare the death penalty unconstitutional.
It also wants the federal and state governments to prohibit the torturing and traumatizing of death row inmates by either abolishing the death penalty or approving a death penalty moratorium law.
The organization made the appeal yesterday at the 16th World Day against Death Penalty, which is marked every year on October 10, to advocate the abolition of death penalty.
In a statement yesterday, HURILAWS’ Senior Legal/Programme Officer, Collins Okeke, said since the death sentence passed on convicts are never carried out, or will never be carried out; there is no more constitutional justification for it.
He said the law requires the governor, acting under the recommendation of the Advisory Council on the Prerogative of Mercy, to order execution or commutation to life imprisonment, or some other prison terms or pardon.
According to Amnesty International Global Report on Death Sentences and Executions 2017, 2285 persons are known to be under the sentence of death in Nigeria as at December 2017.
It added that in 2017 alone, 621 persons were sentenced to death. For many of these death row prisoners, the conditions are traumatic, harsh and dehumanising.
The report said most death row cells are seven by eight feet, shared by three to five people, the cells are dark and with hardly any ventilation.
“Prisoners use buckets as toilets and sleep on the bare floor. The average period spent on death row by prison inmates in Nigeria is between 10-15 years.
“Many death row prisoners have developed a mental illness during their long stay in prison and on death row,” it said.
Also, Avocats Sans Frontières France (ASF France) urged the Federal Government to put in place an official moratorium on executions of death row as it works to reform its justice system.
ASF France Head of office in Nigeria, Angela Uwandu, in a statement, said Nigeria currently has 2,359 death row inmates.
The group, which has been working for the abolition of the death penalty in Nigeria since 2011, said it is committed to achieving a restricted use of the death penalty through judicial and legislative means.
According to her, it is evident from the rate of crime increase in
Nigeria that death penalty is clearly not a deterrent.