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Rights group wants death penalty abolished

13 October 2013, 15:50

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.



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