Why Nigeria goment no dey execute death sentence?
Karina Igonikon, Broadcast Journalist
Death penalty or death sentence na di punishment for any capital offence wey court of competent jurisdiction dey give after dem don prove beyond reasonable doubts say di convict commit.
Under di criminal or penal codes for Nigeria: murder, terrorism-related offences, robbery, kidnapping, sodomy, homosexuality, blasphemy, to assist di suicide of a pesin wey dey legally unable to give consent, perjury dat is to tok lie for court for a capital case wey cause wrongful execution, treason, some military offences like mutiny and practice of local beliefs for states wey dey apply Shariah law.
According to Section 33 of di constitution, di exception to death penalty na wia di defendant na pregnant woman, dem no go sentence her to death but dem go sentence her to life imprisonment.
Also, wen e be say at di time wen di convict commit di capital offence, dem find out say he or she bin dey less than 18 years old, dem go sentence am to life imprisonment.
Methods of death penalty
Di constitution stipulate di way dem dey execute death sentence as either through death by hanging on di neck till di convict die, death by shooting/ firing squad, death by stoning wey be say dem go stone di pesin till e die and death by lethal injection wey dem introduce for 2015.
Kingdom Chikezie Collins wey be lawyer for Port Harcout explain say na three pesins dey involed starting with di court as na dem go lay di foundation for di judgement to prescribe di manner wey dem go take execute di death sentence.
Den di Governor go need to sign di execution order and di third na di hangman wey go act on the execution order wey dey signed or if na by firing squad, den those involved go do di needful.
Collins say if di law don provide for death sentence, na di duty of those in authority to see to am say dem do as di law tok and provide di tins wey go make an work like recruit hangman wey go give effect to di judgement in di manner wey di court order according to di law.
"So di court no go say death by hanging and dem go adopt anoda method to execute am like death say by firing squad. No dem must follow am as di court tok."
E add say, "di offence too dey vary. If na State offence na di Governor of di State naim get di powers to sign di execution order and di appropriate authorities go go put am into effect.
But if na Federal offence like Treason, dat is attempt to comot di goment in power, den e dey di Federal Goment power to do so, so na di President go sign di execution order as e happen for di Ogoni Nine case wey di Head of State then, Gen. Sani Abacha sign dia execution order."
Why e dey hard goment to execute death penalty?
Dem no dey too execute death sentences for Nigeria largely due to human rights concerns.
Instead, dem dey put convicts for prisons indefinitely.
To execute pesin wey dem don convict for Nigeria, di govnor of di state wia dem sentence di pesin must approve di death penalty.
As of today, hundreds of convicts dey death row for Nigerian prisons but di koko be say, e dey rare for goment to execute death sentences in Nigeria. Why?
Need to sign di Execution Order
Adata Bio-Briggs wey be di chairperson for International Federation of Women Lawyers FIDA Rivers State tell BBC Pidgin say for a condemned pesin to be executed in Nigeria, e need di execution order.
Dat one she say dey di power of di sitting govnor of di State to sign di execution order wia dem hand down dat judgement, becos without di execution order, dem no fit execute dat death penalty judgement.
She add say many govnors never sign di execution order wey dey required to execute di death sentence.
"If di High Court pass judgement of death sentence, di convict get right to appeal up to di Supreme Court.
Once di Supreme Court don uphold di judgement of di lower court and affirm di death penalty, no appeal dey again, dem no fit appeal to any oda pesin.
Den na for di govnor of di state wia dem first give di judgement to sign di execution order. If di govnor no sign am, dem no fit execute anybody."
She add say di execution order gats to come from di prisons to di govnor.
"From di human angle, e no easy to sign di death sentence of anoda pesin.
Na Execution Order, dat mean say you dey give order make dem go kill pesin so e no dey easy.
Movement of prisoners on death row from State to State.
Adata Bio-Briggs explain say di law empower di Prison authorities to move those on death row from one prison to anoda, sometimes from one State to anoda.
So wen you move dem like dat too, na obstacle to execute dem becos na di Governor of di State wia dem pass di judgemt go sign so if dem dey anoda prison dat Governor no fit sign am.
Absence of di hangman to carry out di execution.
Times Nigeria don implement death penalty
Di Military era of goment for Nigeria between 1966 to 1979 and 1983 to 1998, di Miliatry juntas bin execute dia political opponents.
Also, e bin dey popular to see armed robbers wey dey face firing squad wey dem bin dey execute for public places, like Babatunde Folorunsho and two oda armed robbers wey face di firing squad for Lagos Bar Beach for July 1971.
Dem be one of di first recorded convicts to get death penalty by firing squad for Nigeria sake of dia notorious crimes of armed robbery.
For July 1995, dem execute 43 convicted armed robbers by firing squad in batches for Kirikiri Maximum Prison Lagos.
Dis na di largest number of prisoners dem don execute for one day in Nigeria.
Anoda popular one na di execution of di Ogoni nine by di Abacha administration including popular playwright and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa for Port Harcourt, Southern Nigeria.
Dia execution draw international condemnation and sanctions against Nigeria.
For October 2012, Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State bin sign di death warrants of two prisoners on death row.
Di State Attorney General then, Osagie Obayuwana, tell Amnesty International say Oshiomhole sign di execution warrants following a request from prison authorities.
Edo State prison authorities bin don complain to di Governor say di death row inmates bin dey involved in a jailbreak incident dat time and dem don become “unmanageable.”
Mr. Obayuwana explain say di two prisoners to be killed bin dey convicted of murder, di laws prescribe death penalty.
Though Obayuwana no provide di complete identities of di two prisoners, e say di date of di execution dey di discretion of prison authorities.
E add say Governor Oshiomhole also review di cases of four oda death row prisoners and decide to commute di death penalty on two of dem to life imprisonment while two of dem go dey released.
Reaction to di execution order
Celine Lemmel, a representative in Nigeria for one human rights group Avocats Sans Frontieres (ASF France), bin release statement dat time wia e identify one of di soon-to-be-executed prisoners as Callistus Ike.
E say dem recently bring Ike wey bin be inmate on death row for Enugu Prisons, to Benin Prison to be executed and tori be say dem bin also inspect di gallows as dem prepare for di execution.
Lucy Freeman, Amnesty International deputy program director for Africa then, bin describe Oshiomhole signing di death warrants as “a deep disrespect for di judicial process” and a disguise way of controlling unmanageable inmates.
Ms. Freeman say di two prisoners slated for execution bin dey among 840 inmates wey file appeal through Legal Defence and Advocacy Project (LEDAP) for March 2010.
However, one injunction wey Court bin grant to uphold di appeal bin dey lifted in April 2012 but LEDAP immediately file anoda appeal dat same month following di court decision. A decision on dat appeal bin still dey pending.
“Di inmates dey part of an ongoing appeal. Di execution of a prisoner when di execution of di sentence still dey for courts na flagrant violation of human rights,” Na so Ms. Freeman tok.
Since di last official execution in Nigeria for 2002, a 'de facto moratorium' bin dey on executions, Avocats Sans Frontières France tok.
Di organization say di 2004 National Study Group on Death Penalty bin advise to put a moratorium on executions and abolish di death penalty in Nigeria.
But countries like United Stage of America, Saudi Arabia, Thailand still get and dey execute death penalty for various crimes especially for conviction on murder and drug trafficking offences.
For di US, as of July 1, 2022, a total of 63 pipo dey scheduled to be executed.
All di executions dey scheduled over five calendar years for four U.S. states.
On 10 June, 2022, di Attorney General of Oklahoma, John M. O'Connor, ask di Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to set execution dates for 25 death row inmates.
Im request make di executions occur evri four weeks on a Thursday, starting from 25 August 25.
As at 1 July, 2022, di schedule don confam all 25 execution dates dem don set till di end of 2024.
'Not death sentence but life imprisonment'
Di FIDA chairperson say na Human Rights groups dey call make Goment cancel death penalty as dem argue say killing di convict no go fit bring back di pesin wey don die, but life imprisonment means say dem go spend dia remaining life inside prison.
"Di pipo wey dey death row dey restricted from a lot of tins even inside prison.
Dem know say dem no get any oda life, dem dey expect to die. Dat alone na enof punishment and most of dem no know wen dem go execute dem. So as dem wake up for morning dem no know if dia execution go be in di next one hour or tomorrow becos dem no dey give dem notice for dia execution. Any day dem fit call dem say na today dem go execute dem."
Kingdom Collins Chikezie observe say Goment both for Federal and State levels dey reluctant and dem no dey sign am even though ma dia duty to do so and no need anybodi to remind dem.
E say any convict on death row only dey live at di pleasure of di Governor or President as di case may be.
Dis e say dey contribute to di increase in number of detainees wey dey prison as dem dey live at Goment pleasure.
"Dat one na trauma for dem. Evriday dey wake up dem dey wait to die. You can imagine di kain feeling dem dey go through.
If di judiciary don go through di length to deliver judgement and gimnet dim spend resources to prosecute pipo and dem gind dem guilty, so e dey hard to understand why di Goment no go dey responsible enof to put dia pen down and make sure dem follow di procedure of law to di letter.
Inmates on death row fit get pardon?
Mrs. Bio-Briggs say pipo wey dey death row fit get pardon if dem don stay for a long time.
She say di Prerogative of Mercy Committee fit sit and appeal to di Governor to either pardon di pesin on death row, dat is to forgive di pesin kpatata or to commit di death sentence to life imprisonment.
"Na di Prerogative, dat is di exclusive right of di Governor to grant say fine I pardon dis pesin or commute di death sentence to life imprisonment. E dey for im hand."
For 2021, Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu bin commute di death sentences of 26 prisoners to life imprisonment to celebrate Nigeria 61st Independence anniversary.
Im bin also grant State pardon to 18 convicted inmates for various correctional centres for di State still for di Independence Day celebrations.
For statement wey di Chief Press Secretary to di Governor, Richard Olatunde sign, dis na as di Governor exercise im powers by Paragraph (d) of sub-section (1) of Section 212 of di Constitution of di Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as Amended.
Dem release di convicts becos dem show remorse and dey of good conduct at di correctional centres.
E charge dem to continue dia good conduct and live a crime-free life as e ask di public not to discriminate against dem as den dey reintegrate into di society.
Death sentence fit stop crime?
Kingdom Chikezie Collins say di essence is administration of criminal justice law na to make sure say pipo wey dey guilty dey sentenced and punished accordingly so e go serve as deterrent to odas, dat is e go discourage odas make dem no go commit dat crime becos wetin happen to dat pesin go happen to you.
"So as Goment no dey put dat law to practice to do wetin dem suppose do, e don continue to create economic losses to goment as dem go continue to provide dia food and oda necessary tins dem need wey no suppose becos as far as e concern di law, di end of those ones dem don find guilty don come.
Di Goment never do wetin di law expect dem to do for dis regard."
But Adata Bio-Briggs say e get some crime wey pesin fit commit wey be say at di time, evribodi wey see am, think am go dey angry enof to say, dis one, a life go go for a life sam- sam!
"But at di very end, we be human beings, after dat anger don pass we go tink am say make dis pesin go spend di rest of im life for prison becos even if you kill dat pesin, e no go bring back di oda pesin back to life. Dat life imprisonment na enof punishment."