October 9, 2021: Lagos, Nigeria
19TH WORLD DAY AGAINST DEATH PENALTY: LEDAP AND HURILAWS CALL FOR A REVIEW OF THE USE OF DEATH PENALTY AGAINST NIGERIAN WOMEN
As the world marks the 19th Anniversary Against Death Penalty; the Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) and Human Rights Law Service (HURILAWS) call for a review of the use of capital punishment in Nigeria, particularly against women, pending a wholesome reform of our criminal justice system to foster arrival at guilty verdicts devoid of reasonable doubts. October 10 is the day set aside globally to advocate for the abolition of the death penalty. The theme for this year’s anniversary is “Women and the Death Penalty; an Invisible Reality”. This year’s event focuses on women who have been executed, sentenced to death, or have had their death sentences commuted, exonerated, or pardoned, while still drawing attention to the peculiarities and factors that predispose women to alleged crimes and weigh on their sentencing.
Gender based discrimination often coupled with other factors such as age, sexual orientation, disability, religion, and culture expose women to intersecting forms of structural inequalities and such prejudices can weigh heavily on sentencing. This discrimination can also lead to inadequate consideration of critical mitigating factors during arrest and trial, including the specific vulnerabilities of women and likely patterns of abuse and gender-based violence that could have been triggers. While working towards the complete abolition of the death penalty worldwide for all crimes and for all genders, it is crucial to caution against the discrimination women in Nigeria face and the impact of such discrimination on women in conflict with the law within our criminal justice system.
We reckon that in July 2021, the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola issued a call on state governors to consider signing warrants of death row inmates in states across Nigeria as a way of decongesting the correctional facilities. LEDAP had in an earlier statement recommended that the country should rather focus on reducing the 74% of awaiting trial inmates in our correctional facilities than executing death row inmates as a decongestion measure.
LEDAP on behalf of all death row inmates in Nigeria filed a suit at the Federal High sitting in Abuja in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/1169/2020 Nnenna Obi & Godwin Pius v Comptroller General of Prisons & 36 Governors seeking a declaration that the imposition of capital punishment infringes the right to dignity of human person and seeks a restraining order against the Comptroller General of Prisons and the 36 State Governors of Nigeria from executing death row inmates.
Marking the 19th World Day Against Death Penalty, HURILAWS and LEDAP organized a media parley soliciting support from media practitioners to advocate for the abolition of death penalty. The meeting enlightened participants on Nigeria’s domestic, regional, and international obligations regarding right to life and mobilized support against the use of death penalty in Nigeria.
Finally, we call on Federal and State Governments to announce an official moratorium on all executions in Nigeria until all inadequacies in our criminal justice system are addressed and to amend our laws that provide for death sentence and replace same with life imprisonment or a term of years.
For: Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP)
For: Human Rights Law Service (HURILAWS)