On this occasion of the International Day Against the Use of the Death Penalty, the Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) wishes to draw attention to the irreversible consequences of using the death penalty.
We respectfully call upon President Bola Tinubu’s administration to consider the urgent need to abolish the death penalty for all crimes.
LEDAP appeals to the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, to take proactive steps by submitting an executive bill to the National Assembly.
This bill would seek to amend the Criminal Code and Penal Code Acts, replacing the provisions for death sentences with more humane forms of punishment, such as custodial imprisonment, with or without the possibility of parole.
Recognizing that the death penalty has not proven effective in deterring crime is crucial. Moreover, it does not fulfil the need for justice for victims and their families or provide remedial closure to those affected by crime.
Under current Nigerian criminal law, the death penalty is mandatory for various property and morality offences and homicide. For instance, armed robbery carries the death penalty as punishment, regardless of the value of stolen property or the offender’s circumstances. Similarly, other offences such as adultery, kidnapping (in many states), and treason are also subject to the death penalty.
It is noteworthy that since the introduction of the death penalty for armed robbery offences during past military regimes, incidents of armed robbery and other violent crimes have continued to rise steadily. The severity of punishment does not serve as an effective deterrent to crime.
Deterrence can only be achieved through a higher likelihood of apprehension rather than the severity of the penalty for a planned offence. Therefore, it is imperative to enhance the capacity of law enforcement agencies to effectively and humanely investigate and prosecute offenders to reduce crimes.
Nigeria maintains one of the most severe death penalty regimes globally, alongside retentionist countries like Iran, Sudan, and China. In contrast, all democracies in Africa have abolished the use of the death penalty, and most countries retaining its use have made it non-mandatory.
We strongly urge the Nigerian government to align itself with the principles upheld by civil democracies and say no to the use of the death penalty.
Chino Obiagwu, SAN
National Coordinator Legal Defence and Assistance Project
Project Officer Legal Defence and Assistance Project
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