Since 1999, only two governors have signed death warrants of the execution of death row inmates in the country.
The first was in 2006 by the former governor Ibrahim Shekarau of Kano State, while the second was by Governor Adams Oshiomhole in October 2012.
Shekarau reportedly ratified the execution of seven inmates on a death row, who were all sentenced to death in the state, while Oshiomhole gave the nod for the execution of two persons.
Both attracted protests from local and international human rights organisations.
According to human rights lawyer, Femi Falana SAN, legal and sociological implications of the action make it extremely difficult for civilian governors to ratify the execution of a death sentence.
Falana told our correspondent that the situation had resulted in the congestion of prisons by death row inmates.
He said, “There is a sociological angle to the issue of executing death row inmates. Most prisons find it difficult to find hangmen. It is difficult to find a Nigerian, who would be proud of an occupation of killing people. And more importantly, it is difficult for civilian governors to ratify the killing of other citizens, even though they have been convicted.
“Since 1999, there have been only two ratifications for the execution of death row inmates in the country. The first one was by one of the governors of Kano State and recently, by Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State. It is not easy for the governors because it is official murder. The reason for penalties in law is for correction, not execution. It is a fact that the death penalty has not served as a deterrent anywhere in the world.”
Falana added that slow pace of the appeals at the Appeal Court and Supreme Court, further stretched the time between the sentence and execution.
He said due to the pressure at the prisons and global campaign against death penalty, the sentence of the death row inmates would eventually be turned into life sentence.
He noted that Oshiomhole also turned the sentences of two other death row inmates to life imprisonment.
When contacted the Public Relations Officer of the Nigerian Prisons Service, Kayode Odeyemi, said it was up to the state governors to ratify the execution of the death row inmates.
“The delay in their execution is beyond our scope. Our job is to keep them safe. It is the governors that would sign their execution order,” he said.
The PUNCH earlier reported that about 970 inmates – 951 males and 19 females – were on death row, awaiting execution.