Nigeria handed down 527 death sentences in 2016, tripling 2015’s figure and placing it second only to China in death sentences recorded throughout the world in 2016.
Amnesty International Nigeria announced the figure in its 2016 global review of the death penalty published on Tuesday.
Lagos State recorded the most executions in Nigeria in 2016 with 68, followed closely by Rivers State with 61.
According to the human rights organization, 2016’s figure represent a “massive and worrying” spike from 2015, when the country recorded 171 death sentences.
The group emphasized that Nigeria’s sharp increase in death sentences puts the country at odds with the global decline in death sentences. In 2016, there were 1,032 executions recorded worldwide, down from 1,634 in 2015 (a 37 percent decline).
“By handing down more death sentences last year than any other country except China, Nigeria has tripled its use of this cruel and inhuman punishment and skyrocketed up the shameful league table of the world’s death penalty offenders,” said Damian Ugwu, Amnesty International’s Nigeria Researcher.
“The danger of people being executed for crimes they may not have committed remains ever-present. Investigations show many death row inmates live in constant fear of execution in some Nigerian prisons.”
The group stated that on December 23, 2016, for example, Apostle Igene, an inmate of Benin Prison, Edo State, was executed after being sentenced to death in 1997 by a military tribunal. He was never permitted to appeal the sentence.
The report also pointed out that Oyo State passed a law in 2016 making kidnapping punishable by execution and that Lagos and Bauchi States passed similar laws in 2017.
The group condemned such laws, saying that there is no evidence demonstrating that the death penalty deters crime more than any other punishment. It also pointed out that Nigerian security authorities have been ramping up police training with a view towards improving crime detection and prevention. These measures, the group said, “are likely to have a greater impact on the crime rate than any moves to expand the scope of the death penalty.”
The organization concluded its report by calling on the Nigerian government to establish an official moratorium on death penalties and to eventually abolish it altogether.
“For years, the federal government has claimed to have a voluntary or self-imposed ‘moratorium,’ but executions have happened nonetheless. This demonstrates the urgency of formally establishing a moratorium,” the group said.
SOURCE: sahara reporters (news)