The Nigeria Community of Sant’ Egidio and Life Wire International Organisation have joined a growing movement in Africa to call on the Nigerian government to stop all death penalty executions forthwith in line with global trend.
The group which disclosed this at an event to commemorates the first abolition of capital punishment which took place in 1786, in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, acknowledged that the country cannot be left behind as more African countries abolish death penalty.
Speaking in Lagos, yesterday, the Director, Cities for Life, Debby Eselebor, appealed to policymakers and governments to be part of the growing worldwide movement, especially in African countries (majority of the African Union’s Member States have actually legally abolished the death penalty or applied a de facto moratorium on capital punishment), to withdraw from capital punishment and to move towards abolition of the death penalty.
According to her, “The death row phenomenon contributes to the long-term psychological decline of a person’s health and harsh death row living conditions contribute to physical deterioration, mental anguish of anticipating execution; methods of execution that cause exceptional pain, and the suffering experienced by family members and those with a close relationship with the executed person.
“Discriminations based on sex, gender, poverty, age, sexual orientation, religious and ethnic minority status, and others can compound cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of individuals sentenced to death.”
However, the group equally urged the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly to amend the criminal code and penal code as well as the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act to remove the death sentence as punishment for crimes and replace it with life imprisonment or a term of years sentence.
“We stand for justice in Nigeria, we, therefore, call for the abolition of the death penalty for all crimes, the establishment of a moratorium on executions and amendment of criminal laws to replace death sentences with long-term imprisonment,” she added.
Meanwhile, as 25 of the 55 African Union member states were said to have abolished death penalty for all crimes, the President, Lifewire International, Arthur Angel, said death penalty worldwide was being used as a tool of political repression.
“We would be deluding ourselves if we were to believe that the execution of comparatively few people each year will provide the solution to the unacceptable high rate of crime. I personally believe that.
“The greatest deterrent to crime is the likelihood that offenders will be apprehended, convicted and punished. It is that which is lacking in our criminal justice system. All too often, politicians have found death penalty as a useful tool in appearing to address crime and make the public feel safe. In reality, death penalty has no such effect, but simply distracts from the need to address the causes of crime and providing effective remedies.”
For the founder, Justice for Peace and Development, Nathaniel Ngwu, who condemned the extra-judicial killings and jungle justice in Nigeria, said the Nigeria Police should be held accountable for witnessing mob action without intervention.