No fewer than 3,298 inmates across the custodial centres in Nigeria are on death row, the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS), has revealed.
Its Public Relations Officer, Mr Abubakar Umar, who disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja, however, said that the term ‘condemned criminal’ had been abrogated.
With the emergence of the NCoS Act 2019 which made the prisons correctional centres, the term ‘condemned criminal’ was abrogated as it is stigmatising, he explained.
He said that the service preferred to use a more friendly term of ‘Inmates on Death Row (IDR)’.
He pointed out that death sentences were not always carried out immediately they were imposed.
“There are often long periods of uncertainty for the convicted while their cases are being appealed at higher levels.
“Inmates awaiting execution live on what we call death row; some offenders have been executed more than 15 years after their convictions.
“They were basically awaiting the hangman’s noose in our custodial centres after being found guilty of capital offences.
“We have quite a number of them; as of today, we have a total of 3,298 inmates on death row. They constitute about 4.5 per cent of the total number of inmates in our various custodial centres nationwide,” he disclosed.
Umar said that some IDRs had been in custody for many years, adding that some had been there since they were arrested up to when they were tried and sentenced.
According to him, many of them committed capital offences like culpable homicide, armed robbery, terrorism, among others.
“The good thing is that we engage all of them in activities that will reform and modify their behaviours.
“The goal is to make them better citizens of the nation.
“We also make them undergo personal development programmes like anger management, civic education, as well as entrepreneurship.
“Some of them, who do well and show some glimpse of hard work, industry and discipline, are recommended for clemency to the relevant authorities,” he said.
The spokesman said that many IDRs had been executed in the past before the proliferation of the activities of human rights groups and organisations.
“Currently, there is somewhat a kind of moratorium on execution of offenders.
“Before the moratorium on execution of IDRs became widespread, executions of IDRs were being carried out as and when due.
“But with the rising activities of human rights groups, many governments shy away from signing the death warrants of these offenders.
“Though it is still in practice, it is not as common as it used to be. The last execution of IDRs was carried out in 2016 in Edo.
“We encourage state governors, who shy away from signing the death warrants, to commute them into other sanctions.
“This will ensure that the toga of death is removed from them. It will also help us to properly manage them smoothly,” he said.