Abuja - An Abuja-based human rights group, Legal Defence and Assistance
Project (LEDAP), has urged the National Assembly and state legislatures
to amend the criminal code to abolish death penalty.
The call is contained in a statement issued on Sunday in Abuja by the national co-coordinator of the group, Chino Obiagwu.
The statement noted that "LEDAP calls on the
legislature to amend the Criminal Code Laws to abolish death penalty or
to restrict the use of death sentence to heinous crimes of premeditated
murder or terrorism.’’
It stressed the need for the removal of mandatory death sentence in
the statute book to enable courts to have discretion in appropriate
cases on jail terms rather than the death penalty.
The death penalty, it said, was inhuman and degrading, adding that "majority of convictions are based on confessional statements of
accused persons, some of which could be obtained through torture.’’
It added that vulnerable members of the society like the mentally
ill, children and juveniles were at risk of execution when alternative
measures were not adopted.
"Execution is irrevocable, once life is lost, it cannot be recovered,
and where an innocent person falls a victim, his or her life might just
be wasted before justice is achieved.’’
The statement, however, added that although there was high rate of
crime in Nigeria, it strongly believed that the death penalty had not in
any way deterred criminals or reduced the crime rate.
It, therefore, called for a review of the criminal justice system,
insisting that while the process was ongoing, a moratorium should be
maintained to avoid wasting some innocent lives.
It emphasised that most countries of the world were tilting toward discarding the death penalty and urged Nigeria to do same.
Meanwhile, statistics shows that only a small percentage of Nigerian
prisoners are on death row, while majority are awaiting trial.