Abuja: The African Union`s rights body has
asked Nigeria not to execute 800 prisoners on death row
following a petition brought before it by an NGO.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples` Rights
(ACHPR) has asked Nigeria not to execute 800 prisoners on
death row following a petition by an NGO, Socio-Economic
Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) which said the
government`s only justification for executing the prisoners
was to decongest prisons.
ACHPR is an organ of the African Union saddled with
the responsibility of addressing human rights issues on the
The commission has asked the Nigerian government to stay
the execution of the prisoners; maintain moratorium on
execution of the death penalty, and move towards abolition.
Lawyer for the NGO, Femi Falana said, "By this decision,
the Commission has once again demonstrated its authority and
progressive and expansive mandates to hold African governments
accountable for their human rights commitments."
Late April, governors of Nigeria`s 36 states had approved
the execution of prisoners on death row to reduce overcrowding
Announcing this decision after a meeting of the state
chief executives in Abuja the country`s capital, Governor
Theodore Orji of Niger Delta state of Abia said, "It was
agreed that those people who have been condemned should be
In the oil rich African country, death penalty has
remained accepted by law but it is rarely implemented leading
to many prisons being congested.
Despite the fact that the last executions were carried
out in 2002, right bodies argue that some are killed secretly
in the prisons.