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Group disagrees with Aregbesola on prison congestion

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Rauf Aregbesola

Worried that about 74 per cent of the prison population of 68,747 inmates in Nigeria are awaiting trial, Avocats Sans Frontières France (ASF), also known as Lawyers Without Borders France, has called for constructive action against prison congestion in the country.
  
The group said it was worrisome to learn that out of 68, 747 inmates, only 17,755 inmates are convicts while 50,992 inmates, representing about 74 per cent, are awaiting trial.
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Head of Office, Avocats Sans Frontiéres France, Nigeria, Angela Uwandu, in a statement, expressed concerns over recent recommendations by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, towards decongesting prisons all over the country.
  
Aregbesola, had on Friday, July 24, 2021, while speaking at the inauguration of the Osun State Command headquarters complex of the Nigeria Correctional Service in Osogbo, urged state governors to sign death warrants for 3,008 convicts to decongest correctional facilities nationwide.
  
However, ASF said statistics revealed by the minister clearly show that congestion in Nigerian prisons is a result of a high number of awaiting trial inmates and not the minority population on death row.
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“In our view, a more constructive approach would be a declaration of a state of emergency in Nigeria’s criminal justice system with programmes and initiatives rolled out to tackle the slow pace of justice delivery in Nigeria. This should be done with a view to reducing awaiting trial population, many of whom have spent eight years or more awaiting trial.
  
“The call for execution by the minister comes at a time when many countries across the globe and particularly in Africa continue to move away from using the death penalty due to its injustices. Just three days ago, Sierra Leone became the latest nation to abolish the death penalty after Malawi,” the group added.
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Avocats Sans Frontières France described the death penalty as inhumane, obsolete, and does not serve as a deterrent.
  
It said: “It is used disproportionately against the poor. It is a violation of the right to life and execution is irreversible even where fresh evidence surfaces to exonerate the convicted.”

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