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CAPIO raises concern over call to sign 3, 008 inmates’ death warrant

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By Emmanuel Acha

A Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), Carmelite Prisoners’ Interest Organization (CAPIO), has raised concern over the call to trigger the execution of 3, 008 inmates on death row in custodial centres across Nigeria.

The Executive Director of CAPIO, Rev. Fr. Jude Isiguzo disclosed this in a statement on Monday in Enugu.

Recall that the Minister of Interior, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, had on July 24 requested state governors to sign death warrant of inmates as a means of decongesting the facilities nationwide.

Aregbesola reportedly made the call during the inauguration of the Osun State Command Headquarters complex of the Nigerian Correctional Service in Osogbo.

However, Isiguzo said that such statement was unfair and a violation of the right to life.

“Death penalty is a violation of human rights and the African Union moratorium on executions.

“It will be a miscarriage of justice to sign the death warrant, while repentant insurgents and bandits who commit grievous crimes are ignored or even granted amnesty,” he said.

The clergy said that Nigeria needed to learn from countries like Malawi and Sierra Leone that abolished death penalty.

“The current congestion in Nigerian custodial centres is as a result of alarming number of inmates awaiting trial, not the number of inmates on death row.

“The statistics revealed by the minister show that there are 68,747 inmates across the custodial centres in Nigeria and only 17,755 are the actual convicts.

“A simple mathematics show that 50,992 inmates are awaiting trial,” he said.

Isiguzo said that the premise that 3,008 inmates on death row congested the custodial centres was non factual.

He said that the organisation in its contribution to the decongestion of custodial centres across the country had over time followed various jail delivery exercises.

He said that the organisation had also advocated for presidential and state pardon as well as skill development for repentant convicts, as against the execution of convicts already on death row.

“We urge state governors to refrain from approving the death warrant of such inmates.

“We equally appeal to the governors to grant state pardon to those who have spent 10 years and above in accordance with the Correctional Service Act 2019,” he said.

Isiguzo said that the government needed to focus on inmates on awaiting trial, adding that such people constituted over 70 per cent of the population in custody.

He such that such move would be the lasting solution to decongesting custodial centres in Nigeria.

CAPIO is at the forefront of human rights, criminal justice reform, and improved welfare of inmates in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, a human rights group Avocats Sans Frontiers France (ASF) in its reaction, described the death sentence call as “brutish, inhuman and violation of the rights to life.

In a statement signed by the Country Director, Mrs Angela Uzoma-Iwuchukwu, the group called for declaration of state of emergency in Nigeria’s justice system.

According to her, this should be done with a view to reducing awaiting trial population, many of whom have spent eight years or more awaiting trial.

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