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Rights group flays Abia’s plan to execute prisoners

By Innocent Anaba

 LAGOS—Nigeria Death Penalty Group, NDPG, has condemned recent move by the Abia State government  to carry out the execution of death row prisoners in the state.

 NDPG, made up of non-governmental organisations and individuals committed towards the abolition of the death penalty in Nigeria, is convened by Legal Defence and Assistance Project, LEDAP. The coalition in a statement by LEDAP’s National Coordinator, Mr Chino Obiagwu, in Lagos, weekend said “we  call on the Governor of Abia State, Chief Theodore Orji to retract from his declaration and adhere to universal trends against the use of death penalty.”

 According to the group, “it will be recalled  that Nigeria has not officially carried out any execution for a while due to the enormous pressure from the international community and the civil society organisations against the use of death penalty as a form of punishment. The statement of the Governor of Abia State is in no doubt a threat to the country’s unofficial moratorium.

 “We note that the major problem leading to prison congestion in Nigeria is the lack of infrastructure and inadequate funding by the government. Most prisons in Nigeria were built in the 60’s and the Nigerian government has neither expanded nor built additional prisons. Again, the state has always been the cause of delays in the prosecution of persons charged with various offences leading to prison congestion.

 “We recommend that the Abia State government should set up its Advisory Council on the Prerogative of Mercy to examine the cases of the prisoners on death row and make a recommendation on the suitability of commuting their sentence.

 “Abia should follow the foot prints of the Lagos State government in its prison decongestion exercise, which has continued to throw massive support to the judiciary and the civil society in the facilitation of the cases of all prison inmates and has, in the past two or so years, commuted the sentences of over 40 death row inmates in the state,” the group added.


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