By: Abang Mercy
Avocats Sans Frontieres France today called on the Nigerian government to abolish death penalty in eight states of the federation.
Speaking at the Saving Lives (SALI) conference Monday in Abuja, Vice President of ASF France, Ivan Paneff, said the world is trending towards the abolition of death penalty as the act of sentencing persons to death has been described as an inhuman and degrading treatment by a majority of lawyers.
The EU-funded SALI project is aimed at contributing to legal and legislative changes towards a restrictive pronouncement of capital punishment in Nigeria is to be implemented the following states of Katsina, Kaduna, Plateau (Jos), Borno, Benue, Edo, Lagos and FCT (Abuja)
In the same vein, the representative of the European Union (EU) delegation in Nigeria, Alan Munday, stressed that the death penalty is ‘‘cruel and inhuman, and has not been shown in any way to act as a deterrent to crime as the EU regards abolition as key to safeguarding human dignity.
Speaking further, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Joseph Daudu (SAN), observed that the abolition of the death penalty in Nigeria is not yet ripe as the Nigerian Society is not yet fully equipped to accommodate the abolition of the institution. He stated that certain measures have to be put in place before the death penalty could be abolished.
In a presentation titled, ‘‘Towards Global abolition of Death Penalty: The African Experience,’’ a Human Rights Campaigner, Livingstone Sewanyana, chronicled the application of the death sentence in African countries such as Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi and South Africa. Sewanyana note in the South African case of State v. Makwanyane and Mchunu, that the South African Constitutional Court unanimously struck down the death sentence for murder as it posed a violation to the right to life and human dignity.
Other discussants including Professor Akinseye George, a former member of the National Study Group on Death Penalty, Joseph Otteh of Access to Justice and a representative of the National Human Rights Commission, Aver Gavar threw their weight behind calls for the abolition of the death sentence in Nigeria.
The groups Communications officer Mr. Sifon Essien, noted that the SALI kick-off conference which comprised of two sessions provided a forum for articulation of ideas and experience sharing by local and international resource persons on death penalty.
The move to abolish death penalty in Nigeria is spearheaded by Avocats Sans Frontieres France and its partners – the Human Rights Institute of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA-HRI), the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) with the formal launch of the new project, Saving Lives (SALI) in Abuja.,