By Bukar Bolori
A call has gone for the erasure of death penalty from Nigeria’s lawAmong those making the call include Australia, France and Avocats Sans Frontieres (ASF), among others.
The call was made at a ceremony commemorating the World Day Against Death Penalty, 2023 in Abuja on Tuesday.
The call came almost 24 hours after a High Court in Lagos sentenced to death by hanging a policeman, Drambi Vandi that killed a Lawyer, Raheem Bolanle in Lagos.
Speaking at the occasion, the Charge D’ affairs, Australia High Commission in Nigeria, Lean Johnston said Australia has abolished capital punishment since 1967, insisting that death penalty is violence against humanity.
She further described death penalty “state violence against its citizens. The death penalty diminishes human dignity. When you take the life of someone else, whether it’s done as a criminal act or whether the state does it, it diminishes human dignity.”
She added that: “There is a huge evidence that the retention of the death penalty does not act as a deterrent for any form of crime. And traditionally, people have said an eye for an eye does not end the cycle of violence. And so, this is not an effective deterrent. Moreover, there is always the chance that people can be rehabilitated and contribute to society.”
On her part, the French Envoy to Nigeria, Ambassador Emmanuelle Blatmann in her speech also condemned death penalty in all ramifications, She said there is nothing good in the practice. She noted that shedding a fellow human blood cannot correct the crime been committed in any society.
France considered the death penalty unfair and inhuman, adding that it was also irreparable.
Blatmann said: “I can’t speak for Nigeria, but I can speak for France. France considers the death penalty as something unfair, inhuman, and irreparable. Unfortunately, we all know that in the legal system throughout the world, miscarriages of justice can happen. So, we consider this as a fundamental human rights issue. And since this day was established 20 years ago, we call for the states who have not abolished the death penalty to adopt moratoriums so that this capital punishment is not used anymore.
“This is because by shedding the blood of another human being, we cannot repair whatever crime has been committed. Today, we have heard about a man who was innocent but spent nine years and a half in prison for a crime he hadn’t committed. That is why we lobby worldwide and at all international fora that we consider the death penalty a violation of human rights.”
In the same vein, the Country Director, ASF France Nigeria, Avocats Sans Frontières France (Lawyers without Borders), Angela Uzoma-Iwuchukwu strongly opposes the death penalty under all circumstances without exception.
The death penalty should be completely abolished from all justice systems as it flagrantly violates the the fundamental right to life.
She said: “Nigeria, just like all other countries in the world, is being reminded of the need to review its laws concerning the death penalty. And this is because the death penalty simply doesn’t work. It doesn’t deter crimes. It is an absolute form of punishment that is cruel, inhuman and degrading. And we believe that there are alternatives to this sort of punishment that can be used in the country.
“This is an opportunity that we’re calling on the Nigerian government to reflect on his use of the death penalty and consider putting in place an official moratorium on executions while they work towards the abolition of the death penalty. We know that there is a growing trend for abolition in the African continent.
“We have seen other countries in Africa who have done away with this with Ghana being the latest country in Africa that has abolished the death penalty from its laws. We’re calling on the Nigerian government to also follow suit and at least as a first step to address issues around the mandatory nature of the death penalty is lost.
“Death penalty should have no place in our justice system. It is against the very principle of reformative and restorative justice. No state should have the power to take someone’s life.”