Condemned prisoners: Why governors may not sign executive warrant
By Our Reporter
Despite National Economic Council (NEC) directive on condemned prisoners, state governors might not execute or commute theirs sentences, at least, for now.
Feelers from many states across the country indicate that governors re-contesting would not want to lose next year’s elections by signing the execution papers. They fear opponents will capitalize on it for political gains.
They also fear that if death sentences are commuted, victims’ families might raise eyebrows on the matter thereby affecting their electoral calculations.
NEC on July 19 at a meeting at the Presidential Villa Abuja directed governors to take decision on condemned convicts in their states. NEC said there are 2,359 condemned convicts in different prisons across the country but the Prison Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) in February said the figure is 2,322.
The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation Abubakar Malami was present at the meeting and briefed members on the situation.
The order was to “help” decongest prisons as cases of congestion were becoming worrisome and that condemned prisoners pose a threat to the system.
Also, Apex News gathered that governors are preoccupied with gale of defections, party alignments and hype in political activities to pay much attention to the death row matter.
On Sunday June 3, 2018, a prison break occurred at the Minna Prison at Tunga area leading to the escape of 180 inmates where a warder and a commercial motorcyclist were killed in cross fire.
Other jailbreaks occurred at Kuje Prison in Abuja and that of Koton-Karfe in Kogi State leading to escape of inmates with many rearrested later.
In 2013, former President Goodluck Jonathan urged state governors to sign death warrants, but the then Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke was against it.
Then, former President Jonathan said there were 970 prisoners on death row in Nigeria. These consisted of 951 males and 19 females with Rivers State with 157 followed by Delta with 149. Ogun State had 132, Plateau State, 126; Lagos 83; Kaduna 79; Enugu 75; Kano 51; Katsina 43; Edo 35; Cross River 17; Jigawa 18 and Kebbi 13. Others are Kwara 12; Federal Capital Territory 10; Niger 10; Ondo seven; Benue six; Sokoto six; Osun five and Taraba four. These figures had changed.
According to 2017/2018 report of Amnesty International, Nigeria continues to impose death sentences but no executions were recorded.
But, it noted that death row prisoners reported that execution gallows were being prepared for executions in Benin and Lagos prisons.
It said in August 2017, Ogun State Government announced that it would no longer maintain an informal commitment to refrain from authorizing executions.
However, in September 2017, the Senate passed a bill prescribing the death penalty for kidnapping. According to Amnesty, capital punishment does not work and there is a wealth of mounting evidence that proves it.
It also noted that the death penalty, both in the United States and around the world, is discriminatory and used disproportionately against the poor, minorities and members of racial, ethnic and religious communities.
Amnesty also noted that since humans are fallible, the risk of executing the innocent can never be eliminated.