Governors Must Sign The Death Warrants - OLAMORE
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Governors Must Sign The Death Warrants



Murder, according to Merriam Webster Dictionary, is the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought. In other words, it is a premeditated and intentional act of terminating another person’s life.

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Under the state criminal code, murder is a capital offence or crime which could attract either life imprisonment or death by hanging. This is depicting a south-western proverb that says “Ika to ba se l’oban’ge” meaning every criminal offence must be punished. And when someone’s culpability has been proved in a competent court of jurisdiction with appropriate sentence issued, the judgement is binding.

A report shows that most of the democratically elected governors in Nigeria usually decline signing the death warrant, hiding under humanitarian shade. The stylish act of leaving the condemned criminals go unpunished has become the trending issue across the nation under the nascent democracy. Sincerely it is not contravening only the courts’ verdicts but also their constitutional duties at promoting societal justice and fairness in the society.

According to the Nigerian laws, capital crimes such as murder, terrorism-related offences, rape, robbery, kidnapping, sodomy, homosexuality, among others, attract capital punishment.

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Similarly, the holy Bible affirms how even God abhors acts of malicious killing. This is established in the book of Deuteronomy 19 verse 11 to 13, stated that ” But if any man hate his neighbour (malice afterthought) and lie in wait for him (intentional) and rise up against him, and smite (murdered) him, mortally that he die, and flee into one of these cities (trying to escape judgement).Then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence (arrest for prosecution) and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood (hang men) that he may die. The scripture further states, “Thine eyes shall not pity him, but thou shall put away the guilt of innocent blood”.

The human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Femi Falana, during an exclusive interview said, “There is a sociological angle to the issue of execution of death row inmates. Most prisons find it difficult to find hang men. It is difficult to find a Nigerian who would be proud of an occupation of killing people, adding that most civilian Governors find it difficult to ratify the killing of other citizens even though they have been convicted.”

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Nevertheless, former president of Nigeria, Mr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, during 2013 International Fathers’ Day celebration called on the state governors, enjoining them to summon up courage and take up their statutory responsibility by signing the pending death warrants of all condemned criminals for execution.

A Retired senior correctional officer explained that “Before a case could be established as homicide or capital offence, it must have been thoroughly investigated and facts affirmed by the Nigeria Police Force, through a competent Investigating Police Officer (IPO), which would be later referred to the Department of Public Prosecution (DPP) in the State Ministry of Justice for legal advice. Thereafter, the case could be heard in a competent court before presiding judge who will give the verdict of capital punishment which might lead to the death by hanging if found guilty. The accused has the right to appeal within three months and if it did not favour him or her, the Governor can sign the death warrant paper(s) for his or her execution not later than six months.”

But what do we have today? Reports show that over 18 years ago, none of the condemned criminals across the correctional centres in Nigeria has been executed because there is no one to sign the death warrant.

The retired officer further noted the negative effects in keeping the condemned criminals for too long in prison, saying it had serious negative influence not only on other inmates but also breeding more criminality. The report of emergence of riot among inmates, cases of prison break, the ever-increasing prison congestion, among other nefarious acts in the correctional centres, are motivated by non-execution of the condemned criminals.

Some experts pointed out that condemned criminals often become wild and untameable by correctional officers as they no longer fear anything since they believe they are already destined to die.

It is imperative for governments at all levels to know that carrying out their constitutional assignment is the core duty they were elected to perform. At least for once, let the people enjoy dividends of democracy not only in the area of provision of social amenities but in government sincerity of signing the necessary death warrant of all condemned criminals that have been long overdue, so as to decongest the prisons, build the public confidence as well as sustain economic stability in accordance with the constitution.

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