By Innocent Anaba
As the world marks the World Day Against the use of the Death Penalty with the theme Poverty and the death penalty, a rights group, Legal Defence and Assistance Project, LEDAP, has reaffirmed its position that the abolition of death penalty in law and practice should be the firm desire of the Nigerian government as death penalty was cruel and inhumane treatment, which has no place in modern society.
National Coordinator of LEDAP, Mr Chinonye Obiagwu in a statement, yesterday, said “We contend that the application of death penalty is discriminatory in Nigeria as it has become a punishment exclusive to the poor in society.
“LEDAP is continually in legal battles with the federal and state governments in its quest to ensure that fundamental rights of citizens are safe-guarded and death penalty is abolished. Currently, we have three cases in court where we are challenging the imposition of death sentences and the proposal of the federal and state governments to execute death row inmates.”
“We urge state governors not to sign any death warrants as it constitutes state murder. With high number of criminal convictions overturned on appeal, continued execution is risky as innocent people may be wrongfully killed.
“We strongly believes that in its practical application, death penalty is discriminatory as there is hardly any rich or influential person in society who is sentenced to death. We contend that the reason for the discriminatory outlook is due to the fact that the rich have the resources to settle the police or afford the best lawyers who ensure they are not convicted.
“LEDAP therefore, takes the commemoration of the World Day Against Death Penalty, to re-live the experiences of the inmates saved from the gallows, inviting freed former death-row inmates to tell their stories in a media parley. It is our conclusion that poverty is a common factor to all prisoners on death row in Nigeria.
“LEDAP beckons on the government at all levels to ensure that they give life rather than exercise eagerness in taking it away while we condemn the recommendation that prisoners on death row be executed as a means of decongesting the prisons. We believe that the government has a duty to protect and respect the sanctity of human life rather than supervising its termination and recommends a moratorium law be passed against executions in Nigeria.”