Amnesty International opposes death penalty in Nigeria’s constitution
The Amnesty International (AI) Nigeria, yesterday, canvassed the abolition of death penalty in the nation’s constitution.
It said that the provision had not achieved its set objective, alleging further that it was targeted at the less privileged persons in the society.
The group stated this in Enugu during an enlightenment campaign at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus where it also released a documentary fiction on death penalty, titled “What if” many countries of the world had abolished death penalty.
It said that it was not certain whether the law had been administered on any highly-placed or wealthy Nigerian.
The Amnesty’s Human Rights Education Co-ordinator, Marsha Nwanne-Umeh, while addressing the students, stated that while they were trying to create a distinction between revenge and justice, there could be an alternative punishment, like life imprisonment.
Nwanne-Umeh, who said that the documentary fiction was created as a means of entertainment to educate young minds on the harm of the death penalty, said the documentary was based on a story of a woman who was engaged to a well-to-do younger man, but fell for a younger lady due to societal pressures.
“It got violent at one point and the younger woman died. A lot of people could swear that the older woman had killed her. At the end of the whole doc-fiction, it was realised that this was not true even though the woman has been sentenced to death.
“The truth was that the young man accidentally pushed his young lover and she fell and hit her head on a marble table and she died but nobody could have seen this because the fingerprint of the older lady who had earlier fought with her was all over her neck.
“The evidence was massive. It was exactly like proving beyond all reasonable doubt that this had happened. So, the documentary “what if” is what if whatever represented is not exactly what happened,” she said.
Nwanne-Umeh said it was an opportunity to teach young people about the harm of the death penalty, the sanctity of life, and make them begin to understand and cherish the meaning of life, saying: “Life is what nobody knows how it came about and nobody can create life; so it shouldn’t be right that people should take life.
“Amnesty International is not also equating innocence to the death penalty. We are saying that the fact that someone has been killed does not exactly mean that that person should be killed too. We are trying to create a distinction between revenge and justice.
“They are not the same thing at all; lives should be cherished and there are other punishments that could be applied. Life sentence can actually be given to people that we feel cannot be rehabilitated outside the confines of the prison or correctional facilities.”
“Death penalty is targeted at poor people. In a country like Nigeria, you find out that those vulnerable to this terrible law are poor people that can’t afford a lot,” she added.
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