The Nigerian Correctional Service has said 3,298 inmates across custodial centres in Nigeria are on death row.
Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria on Wednesday, NCoS public relations officer, Abubakar Umar, also said the term ‘condemned criminal” has been abrogated.
Umar said the NCoS Act 2019, which redefined prisons as correctional centres, voided the term.
He said the service prefers to use the more friendly term; “inmates on death row.”
He noted that death sentences are not always carried out immediately after they are 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 at today, we have a total of 3,298 inmates on death row. They constitute about 4.5 percent of the total number of inmates in our various custodial centres nationwide,” Umar said.
Umar said some IDRs have been in custody for many years, adding that most of them committed capital offences like culpable homicide, armed robbery, and terrorism.
“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 NCoS spokesperson said the intervention of human rights groups, who are against death sentences, has reduced the execution of offenders.
“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 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.