Capital defence lawyers task Federal Government on right to life
The Network of Capital Defence Lawyers has charged Nigeria to respect the right to life and the decisions of the ECOWAS Court of Justice and the Lagos High Court on the death penalty.
The group, which noted that Nigeria has the highest number of persons on death row in Africa, with over 2000 persons awaiting execution urged the country to ratify the United Nations Protocol on Human Rights and progressively work towards the abolition of the death penalty.
In a communiqué issued at the end of its forum in Lagos last week, the group said death penalty is used disproportionately against the poor and it contravenes the constitutional right to freedom from discrimination, adding that death penalty is irreversible and contrary to international human rights instruments on the right to life.
“Contends that there is no evidence that the death penalty is more effective as a deterrence. Therefore, we urge Nigeria to declare an official moratorium on the death penalty, encourage law reform and allow the judiciary discretion over offences that impose the mandatory death penalty.
“We urge Nigeria to explore alternatives to the death penalty and commends lawyers and civil society organizations that are committed to the protection of the rights of persons faced with the death penalty,” it said.
Whiling urging States that are yet to pass the Administration of Criminal Justice Act into law to do so to enable persons faced with death penalty to explore plea bargaining option enshrined in the Act, the Network commended Avocats Sans Frontières France, Cornell Centre on the Death Penalty Worldwide, the Australian High Commission in Nigeria, French Embassy in Nigeria, Embassy of Belgium in Nigeria and Alliance Francaise Lagos (Mike Adenuga Centre) for their support to the right to life project.