NIGERIA. PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION SEEKS TO END DEATH PENALTY
April 16, 2007: a Nigerian presidential commission has submitted a string of bold proposals to President Olusegun Obasanjo that could transform the penal system in Nigeria overnight.
Everyone on death row for more than 15 years should be released, all on death row for more than 10 years and the sick or mentally ill should have their cases reviewed, and all other death sentences should be commuted to life imprisonment.
The commission has also recommended that all inmates jailed for more than five years whose case files have been lost should be set free. "We need an official (death penalty) moratorium," said Olawale Fapohunda, secretary of the commission. "Officially the constitution allows the death penalty but we are trying to see how the constitution can be changed to commute all death sentences to life imprisonment," he said.
According to a document obtained by IPS more than half of Nigeria's 40,000 prison inmates have not even been tried or sentenced, some waiting for their trials for more than 10 years. John Oziegbe, a Lagos legal officer said Nigeria's estimated 700 death row prisoners endure harsh conditions and constant dread.Â "It is sad that the conditions in most of our prisons, even to the most casual observer, are dehumanizing," Gabriel Oloyede, deputy comptroller general of prisons, said candidly. "Most of the prisons are still brutal and squalid." (Sources: IPS, 16/04/2007)