Why 3,504 inmates on death row haven’t been executed, says NCos

The Nigeria Correctional Service has revealed that in 2023, there were no executions of inmates on death row across the custodial centres.

Disclosing this on Friday, NCoS spokesperson, Abubakar Umar, also said as of April 15, 2024, a total of 3,504 inmates were on death row, comprising 73 females and 3,431 males.

The former Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, had on July 24, 2021, urged state governors to sign death warrants of inmates as a means of decongesting correctional facilities nationwide.

Also in December 2023, the NCoS said it had 3,413 inmates on death row across their facilities in the country.

But speaking on Friday, Umar said, “The last execution was in 2016 in Edo State by the former governor, Adam Oshiomole.”

He stressed that while there had not been any execution in the past year, the option remained in the criminal justice system, pending the signing of death warrants by the executive.

He said, “The issue of the execution of death sentences is an international issue that is generating a lot of brouhaha. Presently, due to the advocacies of human rights groups and other civil society organisations, there is a moratorium on the execution of death sentences in Nigeria. Human rights groups are campaigning for the abolishment of the execution of death sentences around the world, and Nigeria is not an exception.

“There has been no inmate on death row that has been executed in the last year. However, that does not mean that the execution of death sentences has been expunged from our criminal justice system. It is still there in our statutes and books, but the executive must sign their death warrants before we can carry out executions, and this is not forthcoming in recent times.

“As of April 15, 2024, we have a total of 3,504 individuals in our facilities nationwide, consisting of 73 females and 3,431 males,” he explained.

According to him, rehabilitation and reformatory programmes were extended to these inmates, including skill empowerment and academic opportunities.

He said, “Just last Saturday, a good number of them graduated from the National Open University of Nigeria as graduates and postgraduate degree holders. Some of them, in the long run, actually change from their old ways and become well-behaved and industrious. Some of them who fall into this category are recommended by us for clemency or pardon.”

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