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Saturday, August 07, 2021

Don't execute inmates to decongest Nigeria's Prisons, CSOs warn FG - ITREALMS

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Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) and the CSO Forum on Detention and Corrections in Nigeria have called on the Nigerian government to desist from the execution of condemned inmates as a solution to congestion in Custodial Centres across the country.

The CSOs made this call following the decision by the minister of interior to execute 3,008 inmates in order to reduce overcrowding in prisons.

But in a statement jointly signed by the 20 members of the CSOs forum and made available by the Deputy Director of PRAWA on Friday, said the Nigerian government should rather implement laws that address the issue of the high number of awaiting trial persons in custody to tackle congestion.

They also urged that Nigeria should in the meantime establish formally a moratorium on execution of those on death sentence.

"While agreeing with the minister of interior on the need to bring closure to the cases involving 3,008 condemned criminals waiting for execution, we do not subscribe to the Minister’s call for the execution of these persons for many reasons.

"The focus should rather be on putting mechanisms in place for the implementation of the sections of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act that provides for the handling of these condemned inmates and for management of congestion in custodial centers", the statement read.

The groups specifically urged that mechanisms should be put in place to ensure effective implementation of section 12(2)(c) of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act which provides that “where an inmate sentenced to death has exhausted all legal procedures for appeal and a period of 10 years has elapsed without the execution of the sentence, the chief judge may commute the death sentence to life imprisonment”.

They also called for the implementation of section 12 (4-12) of the Act which provides for the early warning signal for action to the relevant persons and institutions such as the Attorney General of the Federation and that of the States and the Chief Judge of the FCT and that of the State as the case maybe for action when a custodial center is exceeding its capacity to ensure that action is taken to decongest such centers.

"Specifically. sub-section (8) of same section 12 empowers the State controller and superintendent in charge of a custodial center to reject more intakes of inmates when a center is filled to capacity."

They further advised that Nigeria should also be focusing on addressing inflow into custodial centers by adhering to use of pretrial detention as a measure of last resort as advised in the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Non-custodial Measures.

The statement added, "Regrettably, the undersigned members of our Forum see the request for execution of inmates by the Honorable Minister as a consequence of the failure of Nigeria to heed the call of the United Nations General Assembly for states to establish a moratorium on execution of death sentences .

"The call for execution is actually a dent on the human rights records of the country and of course we know the consequences of that on the image of our dear country in the committee of nations.

It is the position of our Forum that the execution of inmates cannot be a solution to congestion which obviously is not caused by the presence of such inmates in custody.

"We therefore urge Nigeria to tow the line of the argument of Death penalty opponents who regard the death penalty as inhumane and criticize it for its irreversibility."

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