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A2J condemns death penalty in Nigeria

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Death penalty PHOTO: Shutterstock

LEDAP secures minor’s freedom

Access to Justice (A2J) has condemned the infliction of the death penalty on convicts, given the vulnerabilities and frailties of Nigeria’s judicial system.

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According to the group, the punishment is both extreme and its sanctions irreversible after it is executed, even when errors are afterwards discovered.

This coming after the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, stated during the official commissioning of Osun State command headquarters of a correctional office complex in Osogbo that out of 68,747 inmates currently housed in correctional facilities nationwide, 50, 992 of them are awaiting trial, while 17,755 have been convicted and serving sentences.

Aregbesola added that the challenge of congestion in correctional centres, which have 57,278 capacity, has been exceeded by 18 per cent.

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In a statement signed by the Convener, Joseph Otteh and Project Director, Deji Ajare, A2J describes the proposal as preposterous.

“It treats human lives as intrinsically expendable objects or commodities, which may be dispensed with to achieve a better representation of prison demographics.

“But human life, whether of persons under sentence of death or not is far too valuable than to be used as a means of reconfiguring the prison population or reducing it, and it is unfortunate that the Minister would make this kind of obnoxious call,” they said.

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The group said it is afraid that if the Minister’s call is heeded, many death row convicts, who have pending appeals against their convictions would be at risk of execution, even before their appeals are determined following administrative errors.

The organisation insisted that its fears were not misplaced because there are precedents of such errors leading to unlawful executions in the past.

The group, therefore, called on the National Assembly to abolish the death penalty in Nigeria.
In another development, Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) has secured the release of a minor, Kingsley Effiong who was wrongfully accused of armed robbery and burglary by the Nigeria police force at the Magistrate Court, Ogba, Lagos. 

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The body in a statement signed by the National Coordinator, Chino Obiagwu (SAN), condemned the unlawful arrest of Effiong by the police.  

According to the organisation, blatant disregard for rule of law and professionalism by security officers reveals the long practice of torture, corruption and lack of accountability by the law enforcement and policing personnel.

“Effiong is a 16 years old senior student of Ogudu Grammar school, Lagos State. He was arrested at the early hours of March 5, 2021, by men of the Nigeria Police Force on allegation of armed robbery and burglary, offences he knew nothing about. Few days after his arrest, he was remanded in Kirikiri Medium Correctional Facility.

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“We secured the release of Effiong on June 23, 2021, after the Magistrate Court upheld the Director of Public Prosecution’s advice, which exonerated Effiong from the matter,” the group said.

They added that the juvenile justice administration in Nigeria is weak and has been given little or no priority despite the fact that Nigeria is a signatory to various international instruments relevant to the administration of juvenile justice. 

LEDAP however commend the timely response by the office of the Attorney General of Lagos for the issuance of the Director of Public Prosecution’s legal advice. 

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