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FG urged to set up death penalty moratorium

NooseCivil Society Organizations (CSOs) has called on the federal Government to set up a moratorium on the use of death penalty in Nigeria.

The call is contained in a communique issued at a one-day round-table organised on the abolition of the death penalty in Nigeria.

The statement was jointly signed by national coordinator of Legal Defence And Assistance Project (LEDAP) and Convener, Nigerian Anti-Death Penalty Group, Mr. Chino Obiagwu and Mr. Nathaniel Ngwu, a founding Member of Nigerian Anti-Death Penalty Group.

In attendance were representatives of various groups, journalists and lawyers.

The group stated that there is need for the review of all military trials and to commute the sentences of those convicted and sentenced to death.

They decried the challenges facing the use of death penalty in Nigeria, including the challenges of fair trials and the possibility of sentencing and executing innocent people as well as the challenges of increased criminality, which in turn increases the support of use of the death penalty.

They also highlighted the plight of Nigerians who are facing the death penalty in foreign countries and soldiers being sentenced to death for offences of mutiny.

The CSOs also charged the incoming Attorney-General of the Federation to reconstitute the National Working Group on death penalty as a way of encouraging the government to adopt an official moratorium on death penalty.

The group frowned at the high rates of extra-judicial executions by police and other law enforcement agencies and called for police authorities to investigate and prosecute those responsible.

The meeting notes that more than 16,250 people are in prisons abroad while a lot of Nigerians face death penalty in foreign countries. “Most of them are held in China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other South-East Asia countries.

“The use of death penalty nearly always carries with it the possibility of convicting, sentencing and executing an innocent person, therefore it is important for the new government to revisit the issue of death penalty and either abolish it altogether or introduce a moratorium”, the communique reads in part.

They noted that most of the Nigerians convicted abroad did not receive fair trials because most of them did not have lawyers to defend them, the trials were held in languages they did not understand, in many cases no interpreter was provided and more importantly, consular support services were lacking.

The group posited that even though the Federal Government under President Olusegun Obasanjo introduced an official moratorium, executions were carried out in 2013 in Edo State and many are being executed for offences of mutiny under circumstances that raise doubts of their fair trial.

The roundtable therefore calls on the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ensure that consular services are provided to every Nigerian facing a criminal charge abroad.

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