Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) has joined the rest of other civilized countries and bodies to mark the World Day against prisoners on the death row after being convicted to either by hanging, beheading or firing squad.
In a statement released to journalists at its office in Lagos by its national coordinator, Chinonye Obiagwu, it says: “As the world marks today the World Day Against the use of the Death Penalty with the theme “Poverty and the death penalty” LEDAP reaffirms its position that the abolition of death penalty in law and practice should be the firm desire of the Nigerian government as death penalty is cruel and inhumane treatment, which has no place in modern society. LEDAP contends that the application of death penalty is discriminatory in Nigeria as it has become a punishment exclusive to the poor in society.
“LEDAP is continually in legal battles with the federal and state governments in its quest to ensure that fundamental rights of citizens are safe-guarded and death penalty is abolished. Currently LEDAP has at least 3 actions in court where it challenges the imposition of death sentences and the proposal of the federal and state governments to execute death row inmates. LEDAP urges state Governors not to sign any death warrants as it constitutes state murder. With high number of criminal convictions overturned on appeal, continued execution is risky as innocent people may be wrongfully killed.
“LEDAP strongly believes that in its practical application death penalty is discriminatory as there is hardly any rich or influential person in society who is sentenced to death. LEDAP contends that the reason for the discriminatory outlook is due to the fact that the rich have the resources to settle the police or afford the best lawyers who ensure they are not convicted. LEDAP therefore takes the commemoration of the World Day Against Death Penalty, to re-live the experiences of the inmates saved from the gallows, inviting freed former death-row inmates to tell their stories in a media parley. It is LEDAP’s conclusion that poverty is a common factor to all prisoners on death row in Nigeria.
Obiagwu concluded in his statement saying “LEDAP beckons on the Government to ensure that it gives life rather than exercise eagerness in taking it away while it condemns the recommendation that prisoners on death row be executed as a means of decongestant the prisons. LEDAP believes that the government has a duty to protect and respect the sanctity of human life rather than supervising its termination and recommends a moratorium law be passed against executions in Nigeria”.