Human RightsNews

Nigeria Has Highest Number Of Death-Row Inmates In Sub-Saharan Africa – Report

Amnesty International says there are over 3,000 death-row inmates in Nigerian correctional centres otherwise known as prisons.

Nigeria has the highest number of death-row inmates in sub-Saharan Africa, Amnesty International says in its annual review of the global death penalty.

HumAngle reviews the human rights institution report made available on its website on Tuesday, May 24. 

The global rights body said as of Dec. 2021 when its research was conducted, facilities across sub-Saharan Africa hosted no fewer  than  5,841 death-row inmates. 

Of the total figure, Nigeria has 3,036 death-row inmates which is over 52 per cent. 

The country next to Nigeria is Kenya with 601 inmates on death-row. This was followed by Tanzania with 480 sentenced to death. There are 334 death-row inmates in South Sudan, Zambia, the landlocked South African country has 257, Cameroon  has 250, Mauritania has 183, Ghana has 165, and Uganda has 135 death-row inmates.

The report also showed that Sierra Leone houses 117 inmates on death-row,  Sudan is hosting 95, Zimbabwe has 66, Mali has 48, Malawi houses 37, and Liberia is hosting 16 death-row inmates. 

Though the death sentence is legal in Nigeria and other African countries, executions hardly happen which is one of the reasons for prison congestion. 

Amnesty International said Nigeria has no record of executions in 2021. Also, there were only seven executions in the country between 2007 and 2017. 

The human rights group, however, argued that death penalty is a tool of state repression, with governments showing an utter disregard for safeguards and restrictions on the death penalty established under international human rights law and standards.

“It is high time the ultimate cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment is consigned to the history books,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary-General.

Overcrowded prisons 

HumAngle has done a series of reports on overcrowded prisons in Nigeria with prisoners having very little freedom of movement. The development has in the past caused damage to their physical and mental well-being. 

Prison conditions in Nigeria have accounted for the outbreak of infectious diseases and mental health issues. Proper hygiene is not maintained and a good diet is not guaranteed, which later affects the healthy living of inmates, research shows.

Aside from the inhumane treatment inmates are subjected to, overcrowded prisons cost a lot of money as Nigeria claims to be spending N7.6 billion annually on awaiting trial inmates alone. 

Data from the prison authority revealed that about N450 is spent daily on each inmate, amounting to N21.3 million daily. 

More so, the country has experienced a number of jailbreaks in the last few years leading to the escape of many inmates. The jailbreaks cut across various states in different regions of the country. 

As part of efforts to address this menace overcrowding, Interior Minister Rauf Aregbesola said the government is working on building 3000-capacity custodial centres in each geo-political zone of the country.

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Adejumo Kabir

Kabir works at HumAngle as the Editor of Southern Operations. He is interested in community development reporting, human rights, social justice, and press freedom. He was a finalist in the student category of the African Fact-checking Award in 2018, a 2019 recipient of the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence, and a 2020 recipient of the Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award. He was also nominated in the journalism category of The Future Awards Africa in 2020. He has been selected for various fellowships, including the 2020 Civic Media Lab Criminal Justice Reporting Fellowship and 2022 International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) 'In The Name of Religion' Fellowship.

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