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FG frowns at Amnesty International’s call to halt inmates’ execution


Nigeria’s minister of foreign affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama. PHOTO: TWITTER/ GEOFFREY ONYEAMA

The Foreign Affairs Ministry has frowned on calls by Amnesty International (AI) for the Federal Government to halt the planned execution of some inmates on death row in Lagos State.

The ministry, in a statement issued by the Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Olushola Enikanolaiye, yesterday in Abuja, stated that the AI had on April 21 urged the Federal Government to establish an official moratorium, with a view to abolishing the death penalty.

He, however, said the Lagos State Government had yet to officially confirm its intention to carry out executions at the Kirikiri Prisons, even as the Federal Government acknowledges the growing global preference for the abolition of death penalty.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Enikanolaiye said the Federal Government was aware that total abolition of capital punishment was yet to be established as a globally acceptable human rights norm, adding that AI’s claim that death penalty was an outdated and cruel punishment, which violated the right to life, was just propaganda by the organisation.

He said AI, by its claim, ignored the rights of the traumatised family members of victims of violent crimes and rather threw its weight behind those who committed heinous crimes against Nigerians.

Enikanolaiye explained that death penalty, as contained in Article 6 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, was an exception to the right to life, as long as it was not arbitrarily imposed.

He stressed: “Furthermore, it is reaffirmed that Nigeria incontrovertibly possesses the sovereign right to determine its laws and operate a criminal justice system within the rule of law.

“The imposition of death penalty is a constitutional matter in Nigeria clearly spelt out under Sections 33(1) and 34(1)(a) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

“As AI is probably aware, in every democracy, sovereignty belongs to the people.” According to him, it is, therefore, repugnant and imprudent for AI to continue condemning Nigeria’s criminal justice system on the basis of AI’s randomly conducted experiment on the use of the death penalty.

“AI should refocus attention on defending the rights of the traumatised family members of victims of violent crimes, rather than the veiled support for those who have committed heinous crimes against the Nigerian people.”

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