See also:
» 22.04.2010 - Concern over Nigeria's 870 death row inmates
» 06.04.2010 - Nigerian militias sentenced in Equatorial Guinea
» 09.03.2010 - Demands for Nigeria to stop massacres
» 02.02.2010 - UK to return £43 million stolen funds
» 02.02.2010 - Nigeria names panel to probe religious killings
» 27.01.2010 - Nigeria seizes fake drugs
» 21.01.2010 - UN chief calls for restoration of peace in Nigeria
» 20.01.2010 - Nigerian religious clashes’ death toll up

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Society | Human rights

Innocent Nigerian prisoners die on death row

afrol News, 21 October - Scores of prisoners on Nigerian death row, who are believed to be innocent, are said to have not received a fair trail, human rights group have said.

According to Amnesty international (AI), many confessions are extracted under duress and most prisoners are sentenced to death on that evidence alone.

Group has therefore called on Nigerian government to cut short all executions in light of its report.

"Judicial system is riddled with flaws that can have devastating consequences. It is truly horrifying to think of how many innocent people may have been executed and may still be executed," AI researcher, Aster van Kregten said in a statement.

The 78-page report shows that almost 80% of inmates in Nigerian prisons claim to have either been beaten, threatened with weapons or tortured in police cells to get confessions.

It furthers indicates that after a prisoner has been hanged, other death row prisoners are forced to clean gallows.

"Police are overstretched and under-resourced. Because of this, they rely heavily on confessions to 'solve' crimes, rather than on expensive investigations," Ms van Kregten said.

Ledap, Nigerian legal organisation, which co-authored report, maintains that under Nigerian law, confessions under torture cannot be used as evidence in court.

"Judges know that there is widespread torture by police, yet they continue to sentence suspects to death based on these confessions, leading to many possibly innocent people being sentenced to death," Ledap's national co-ordinator, Chino Obiagwu said.

AI shows that death penalty trials can take more than 10 years to conclude, with some appeals waiting for 14 years and even up to 24 years.

"I am not an armed robber. I am a shoemaker. I bought a motorcycle from someone who stole it," death row inmate Jafar, 57, told Amnesty.

Mr Jafar reportedly filed an appeal 24 years ago, but he is still waiting for it to be heard as his case file has gone missing.

"Police asked me to be a witness. They got man who sold me motorcycle, but shot him to death. After that, I became suspect," he said.

Report further indicates that many prisoners said that when police picked them up, they asked for money to release them.

Those who could not pay were treated as suspected armed robbers, prisoners claim.

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