23 October 2007 :

Olawale Fapohunda, a leading human rights lawyer in Nigeria, called for a formal moratorium on executions and a speedy end to capital punishment in Nigeria. He argued that the Nigerian Government must act decisively and follow Rwanda, Gabon and Senegal. He also explained that the pro-execution argument due to Nigeria’s high crime rate was not backed up by statistics. “We do actually have an unofficial moratorium on executions, because state governors are reluctant to sign death warrants due to the unreliability of the whole process from arrest to conviction.” “Many Nigerians have a hard-line attitude toward capital punishment, and this is influenced by their religious beliefs. In my view Nigeria should abolish the death penalty, but I doubt if there is the political will to do so.” “Courts are still able to hand down death sentences and this will continue until there is law reform and the death penalty is removed from our legal code.” Fapohunda expressed concern that the Legal Aid Council does not provide legal assistance to people facing capital punishment. This means that death row prisoners, who are almost exclusively poor, do not have legal representation.

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