Commission seeks reduction of death sentences to life imprisonment

Kirikiri prison
Kirikiri prison

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has called on the president and state governors to consider commuting the sentences of all death row inmates to life imprisonment.

The Executive Secretary of the commission, Tony Ojukwu, made the call on Wednesday in Abuja in commemoration of the 2018 World Day against Death Penalty.

Mr Ojukwu, in a statement signed by him, said the death penalty as a retributive measure might not serve as a deterrent to crime.

According to him, the lack of certainty on the fate of death row inmates as well as their living conditions in prison is worrisome as it has grave human rights implications.

Mr Ojukwu stated that imprisonment was no longer seen solely as a retributive measure but was targeted at reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration of inmates.

“Considering the challenges faced by our Criminal Justice Administration System, it is necessary for all concerned to exercise caution in carrying out executions of convicted inmates,’’ he warned.

He said there was the need to revisit the findings of the Study Group which gave ”birth to the Moratorium on Death Penalty for a better understanding of the justification for Moratorium in the country”.

The NHRC official said the adoption of official Moratorium and eventual abolition of the death penalty in Nigeria was a proactive step toward fulfilment of Nigeria’s international human rights obligations.

“The commission observes that freedom from torture is a human right.

“Nigeria is a party to the UN Convention against Torture and its Optional Protocols and has domesticated this instrument by virtue of the Anti–Torture Act (2017).

“Nigerian Government is, therefore, under obligation to give effect to the spirit and letters of these instruments,” Ojukwu advised.

He enjoined all stakeholders to join hands in advocacy for a rethink on retaining Death Penalty in the nation’s legal System.

The World Coalition against Death Penalty and the abolitionists mark World Day against Death Penalty on October 10, every year and the 2018 celebration focuses on the living conditions of those sentenced to death. (NAN)

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