By Chioma Obinna

A religious group, Community of Sant’Egidio has described the killing by hanging of four criminals on death row in Benin Prison recently a brutal return to the use of the death penalty in Nigeria which had been put on hold for more than seven years. The group, therefore, called on the Nigerian government to suspend all executions immediately with a view to re-establish the moratorium on executions in the country.

The group’s National Coordinator, Prince Henry Ezike, recalled that an international human rights group, Amnesty International, among others, had earlier in a statement condemned the execution.

Quoting a Catholic community report which described it as “cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment any human being can receive,” he said: “We wish to state here that no life has been replaced by the death of another. Furthermore, there is scientific evidence that capital punishment is not helpful in lowering the level of crime rate. Rather, it continues the infernal cycle of violence and vengeance. There is no justice without life.”

He noted that innocent people were caught in the web, with their offence being they were at the wrong place and time, adding that it was typical in Nigeria. He said executing prisoners only serves the purpose of decongesting prisons across the country. “With great sympathy, we mourn the death of Nigerians who have been executed and commensurate with their families. As we pray for the souls of the departed, there is the need for everyone to speak with one voice in condemning death penalty and continuously ask the Federal Government and state governments to explore other options in their fight and determination to eradicate crime in our society,” Ezike implored.

He urged government to borrow a leaf from other countries that have abolished death penalty and developed more effective means to fight crime in their countries.

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