The stakeholders made the call on Tuesday in Enugu during an awareness programme organised by two non-governmental organisations, Sant’ Egidio and Cities for Life, with the theme: ‘Women Sentence to Death: An Invisible Reality.’
Rights activists urge FG to scrap death penalty in Nigeria
Some Human Rights activists have called on the Federal Government to consider abolishing death penalty and replacing it with life imprisonment.
They also asked the National and State Assemblies and State to remove death sentence as punishment for crimes, through the amendment of the Criminal and Penal Code as well as the Robbery and Firearm Act.
The director, Cities for Life, Mrs Linda Ebeh, alleged that most of those sentenced to death were innocent.
She cited an example of a woman who was executed for killing her husband only for an autopsy to reveal that the man died of a heart attack.
“Most African countries are in favour of the abolition of the death penalty.
“Rwanda abolished the death penalty in 2007, Gabon in 2010, Benin in 2010, Congo and Madagascar in 2015, Guinea in 2016 for ordinary crimes and 2017 for military crimes and Burkina Faso in 2018.
“As of today, 21 of the 55 African Union member-states have abolished death penalty for all crimes,” she said.
Ebeh said in spite of the reason often given for death penalty as a deterrent to capital offences, such offences were still thriving and thereby denying the punishment the expected deterring effect.
She urged state governments to come up with better ways to deal with criminal activities rather than imposing death sentences on citizens, as it had not solved the problem of criminality in Nigeria.
Similarly, the Enugu State Coordinator of the National Human Rights Commission, Mr Valentine Madubuko, noted that capital punishment was not the best way for the government to punish convicted criminals.
Madubuko said that the Commission was working with the authority to ensure that cases of abuse and sexual harassment of female inmates in the correctional centres were curtailed.
In his remarks, the National Responsible Community of Sant’ Egidio, Mr Henry Ezike, called on the Federal Government to abolish the death sentences as done in many other African countries.
“Aside Lagos and Anambra States that have reviewed their Penal laws, other states in the country have outdated Penal and Sharia laws, with some enacting new death penalty law.
“Most recently, Katsina State approved capital punishment for cattle rustling.
“By the end of 2018, Nigeria’s death row of at least 2,000 inmates was the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa,” he said.
He noted the report of Amnesty International, which stated that at least 46 new death sentences were imposed in 2018 and 621 in 2017.
Ezike described many of the death convicts as innocent or those without anyone to assist them in the judicial process of the country.
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