New Internationalist

Death Row Nigeria

Hundreds of Nigerian prisoners are being held on death row many of whom have been tortured or whose trials were not conducted properly according to a new report by Amnesty International.

‘The police are overstretched and under-resourced. Because of this, they rely heavily on confessions to ’solve’ crimes - rather than on expensive investigations,’ Amnesty’s Aster van Kregten said.

LEDAP, the Nigerian legal organization which co-authored the report, says that under Nigerian law, confessions under torture cannot be used as evidence in court. ‘Judges know that there is widespread torture by the police - and yet they continue to sentence suspects to death based on these confessions, leading to many possibly innocent people being sentenced to death,’ LEDAP’s national co-ordinator Chino Obiagwu said.

The report ties in with an interview I did last year with Damien Ugwu from the Nigerian Civil Liberties Organisation on torture by police in Nigeria. Damien highlighted the police tendency to target young men and poor people as criminals. The torture statistics are extremely high with 99 per cent of people detained by the police likely to experience physical or mental torture. Most of the torture is taking place by junior ranking officers, many of whom have not had proper training and are under pressure to get results. Although there is no official policy, there is a culture of torture with most police stations having a torture chamber and an officer in charge of torture.

Damien Ugwu

Listen to the interview with Damien Ugwu of the Nigerian Civil Liberties Organisation.

For more information on the Death Penalty see Amnesty International’s pages on the Death Penalty and download the full report (PDF) here.  See also campaign group Critical Resistance.

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About the author

Sokari Ekine a New Internationalist contributor

Sokari Ekine is a Nigerian social justice activist and blogger. She writes an awardwinning blog, Black Looks, which she started in 2004, writing on a range of topics such as LGBTI Rights in Africa, gender issues, human rights, the Niger Delta, Haiti and Land Rights. She is a IRP 2013 Fellow.

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