Avocats Sans Frontières France, a human rights organization, has called on the Nigerian government to declare a state of emergency over the criminal justice system.
The Country Director of the group, known as ‘Lawyers Without Borders France, Angela Uzoma-Iwuchukwu made the call in a statement on Monday in Enugu.
Mrs Uzoma-Iwuchukwu revealed that the call became necessary following the congestion of custodial centres across the country.
The country director described the call from some quarters to enforce the death sentence on convicts as a means of decongesting the custodial centres as brutish, inhuman and violation of the Rights to Life.
She said: “In our view, a more constructive approach would be a declaration of a state of emergency in Nigeria’s criminal justice system with initiatives rolled out to tackle the slow pace of justice delivery in Nigeria.
“This should be done with a view to reducing the awaiting trial population, many of whom have spent eight years or more awaiting trial,” she said.
She claimed that the death penalty was cruel, ineffective, and ineffective as a deterrence.
It is used disproportionately against the poor. It is a violation of the Right to Life and execution is irreversible even where fresh evidence surfaces to exonerate the convicted,” she added.
The country director appealed to the Federal Government to declare an official moratorium on execution while it tackled the huge problem created by the awaiting trial population.
“It’s disturbing to hear that just 17,755 inmates out of a total jail population of 68,747 are real criminals, with 50,992 inmates representing roughly 74% of those awaiting trial.
“The statistics clearly show that the current overcrowding in Nigerian prisons is due to the alarmingly high number of inmates awaiting trial, not the minority population on death row.
Uzoma-Iwuchukwu stated, “We are dedicated to working with national partners to address the situation of prison congestion in Nigeria.”