NHRC, others seek substitute for death penalty

THE National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) Thursday in Abuja urged the Federal Government to reconsider its position on death penalty for capital offences.
NHRC and the CSOs made the call at an event held to mark this year’s World Day Against Death Penalty jointly organised by the NHRC, Lawyers Without Borders – Avocats Sans Frontieres (ASF).
Speakers at the event questioned the rationality for sustaining the death sentence in the nation’s statute book in the face of a defective justice administration system and poor investigation by the police.
They prayed the government to sustain the existing moratorium on death penalty if it was yet to device an alternative means of punishing people convicted for capital offences.
The Executive Secretary, NHRC, Prof. Bem Angwe, contended that since the nation’s constitution guaranteed the right to life, the pronouncement of death penalty on offenders should be placed under review.
Angwe, who was represented by an officer of his commission, Murphy Okwa, suggested a review of the law on death penalty on a case-to-case basis.
“That is, in the case of an armed robbery that does not result in death, the state should consider the use of other sentencing in place of death penalty. This is given the fact that the criminal justice system has flaws, which need to be amended,” he said.
Head of Office, ASF, Angela Uwandu, faulted the practice of sentencing people to death for offences committed as minors.
She said her organisation has sued the Nigerian government at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) court in relation to the case of a nursing mother, Maimuna Abdulmumini, sentenced to death by a High Court in Katsina State for the offence of murder she committed while she was 13 years.
Uwandu, who observed that Maimuna was currently imprisoned with her baby, noted that 69 of such babies, incarcerated with their mothers, are currently in the nation’s prisons.
She urged the Federal Government to initiate measures to improve on the living condition of people on death row in the nation’s prisons.
Uwandu regretted the negative impact of “death penalty regime on children of people on death row and those executed.
Leonard Dibia of Access to Justice argued that it was unjust to sentence people to death for offences of less socio-economic implication where “corporate thieves, who siphon pension funds in billions” are given option of fine.