Press Release – Lagos.  February 21, 2014

HURILAWS calls for withdrawal of Suspension of the CBN Governor

The Human Rights Law Service (HURILAWS) is concerned about the recent decision of the President to suspend the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. Our concern is predicated on the provisions of Section 11 (2) (f) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007, which in our view does not empower the President to unilaterally suspend and or remove the Governor of the Central Bank.

HURILAWS is also concerned that the suspension of the Governor of the Central Bank is coming a few weeks after his revelation of financial impropriety by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, which to us raise doubts about the motive for his suspension.

While HURILAWS appreciates and respects the President's desire in ensuring that the Central Bank of Nigeria is propelled by the core values of focused economic management, prudence, transparency and financial discipline, we believe that desire should be pursued in line with the rule of law and due process.

HURILAWS therefore calls on the President to withdraw the suspension of the Governor of the Central Bank and to channel whatever misgivings he has about the financial recklessness and competence of the Governor of Central Bank to the Senate for appropriate action in compliance with the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007.

Collins Okeke
Senior Legal/Programme Officer
The Human Rights Law Service (HURILAWS)

For more than 15 years federal and state governments in Nigeria contrary to international law have continued to extend crimes to which the death penalty applies. The moment a crime assumes notoriety or begins to overwhelm law enforcement agents, governments’ response has been to impose the death penalty for such crime (s). When kidnapping became the trend in South-east and South-south Nigeria most affected state governments prescribed the death penalty. The federal government responded to the surge in terrorism in the North-east and North-west Nigeria by imposing the death penalty.  There is even a clamour that the death penalty be made to apply to official corruption, vandalization of oil installations, and oil bunkering.

What advocates for the death penalty fail to understand is that the death penalty does not keep society safe. It may pander to the outrage of society but it does not abate or remove the crime or offense; which should be the interest of government. The best way to solve crime is to prevent it or at best apprehend the offender. When a criminal justice system is too weak to resolve crimes and apprehend offenders, the penalties no matter how severe will have no deterrent effect. This is why HURILAWS has continued to advocate for far reaching institutional and procedural reform of Nigeria's criminal justice system.

The Nigerian criminal justice system has challenges; challenges that question the morality of any application of the death penalty. It is public knowledge the police have confidence and integrity challenge; they lack the capacity to effectively investigate crime; there are no forensic labs, equipments or facilities to accurately or scientifically tie crimes to suspects.  Most allegations/charge for crimes that attract the death penalty are based on confessional statements, most of which are obtained through torture and other unlawful practices. The judiciary has become somewhat complicit when they admit these confessional statements and continue to make pronouncements of death knowing these limitations exist in the system.

HURILAWS position remains consistent with the recommendations and findings of the Federal Government’s National Study Group on Death Penalty. The Group recommended ‘…an official moratorium on all executions until the Nigerian Criminal Justice System can ensure fundamental fairness  in capital cases and minimize the risk that innocent people will be executed’. We use this year’s commemoration of World Death Penalty Day to again call on federal and state governments (especially the Edo state government) to officially impose a moratorium on all executions until all the challenges in our criminal justice system are resolved. What we collectively need to stop is crime, not lives.

While civil society groups in Edo state were on 18th October, 2013 meeting at the NUJ Press Centre, Benin, to discuss how to improve administration of criminal justice in the state, the State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole was pandering to the public by signing into effect a law that prescribes the death penalty for kidnapping.

Without prejudice to the powers of the Edo State Government to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of the state, we believe this latest action is ill conceived. Edo state is not the only state that has prescribed the death penalty for kidnapping. Several other states (like Bayelsa, Anambra etc) have done same but it has not stopped kidnapping or any other crime.

Like we have continued to point out, the death penalty does not keep any society safe. It does not deter criminals.  It may pander to the outrage of society but it does not abate or remove the crime or offense, which should be the interest of government. The best way to solve crime is to prevent it or at best apprehend the offender but when a criminal justice system is too weak to resolve crimes and apprehend offenders, the penalties no matter how severe will have no deterrent effect.

Edo state (for instance) has one of the oldest criminal laws in Nigeria – the Bendel State Criminal Code 1976. Rather than continue to emphasize the death penalty as the panacea to crime, we would advise the Edo state Government to follow the example of Lagos state by reforming its criminal laws, procedures and institutions. That can be a first step. What we need to stop is crime, not lives.

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