As the world marks the 16th World Day against the Use of the Death Penalty with the theme “Living conditions on death row”, Legal Defence & Assistance Project (LEDAP) calls on the Nigerian government to put an end to the use of death penalty, but in the meantime urgently introduce moratorium on sentencing and execution, and improve the conditions of detentions of death row inmates.

Over the years, LEDAP has consistently campaigned for the abolition of the death penalty by providing direct free legal assistance to death row inmates, supporting legislative enactment on moratorium, conducting public poll survey on the use of death penalty and the inhumane living conditions of death row inmates.

Our findings revealed that death row prisoners are subjected to two distinct punishments: the death sentence itself and the prolonged years of living in inhumane conditions that include poor health care, overcrowding, poor feeding and poor medical attention. Prisoners on death-row live in a state of constant uncertainty over their possible date of execution. For some death-row prisoners, the anxiety results in a sharp deterioration in their mental and emotional wellbeing. This manifested in the case of Olatunji Olaide, who was exonerated by Court of Appeal after spending 24 years on death row. Olatunji died shortly after his release from prison due to his terrible ill health and untreated eye condition from prolonged detention.

LEDAP is particularly worried that the appalling prison conditions have serious damaging effects on the mental and physical health of the inmates. These conditions further infringe on their rights, particularly right to human dignity and freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. LEDAP believes that the human rights of death row inmates should be protected at all times. The dignity of the human person must be preserved, both within and outside the prison walls.

LEDAP therefore calls on the Government to respect the sanctity of life, by taking immediate steps to abolish death penalty and replace same with term of years or life imprisonment. In the meantime, Government should provide the necessary infrastructure and facilities needed to cater for the welfare of   death row prisoners.


For: Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP)


Pamela Okoroigwe