NIGERIA: 11 REASONS WHY THE DEATH-PENALTY SHOULD BE ABOLISHED! (CHAPEAU!!!)
Nigeria as a developing country has had challenges which are not peculiar but are to a large extent associated with other developing countries. However, one unfortunate history about Nigeria and several other African governments is the brutal nature of government against opposing voices.
One of such cases which has become globally celebrated is the Ogoni in the oil belt of Nigeria. In the early 1990s, the Ogoni people under the leadership of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People(MOSOP) began a mass protest against Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria and the Nigerian Government accusing the duo of rights abuses and environmental devastation of Ogoniland.
The case of the Ogoni were very glaring and factual. To stop the Ogoni people, the government hurriedly executed their leaders including Ken Saro-Wiwa on November 10, 1995. Sixteen(16) years later, a United Nations Environmental Audit Report on Ogoniland revealed an alarming threat to the lives and environment of the Ogoni People. The report says it will take 30 years and $1billion dollars to clean the mess. The Nigerian government has not implemented the report.
Indeed, Ken Saro-Wiwa and his kinsmen were right. One of those who survived the era of unlimited persecution of the Ogoni people is Mr. Ledum Mitee, Saro-Wiwa’s deputy who later became President of the Ogoni Movement and Vice Chair of the UNPO.
Today, on the occasion of Mitee’s birthday, Ogoninews.com calls for the abolition of the death penalty citing the following 11 reasons:
1) The death penalty is absurd and cruel.
2) But for the Death Penalty, these people would be alive today: Ken Saro-Wiwa, Chief Edward Kobani, Albert Badey, Chief Samuel Orage, John Kpuinen, Chief Theophilus Orage, Dr. Barinem Kiobel,Daniel Gbokoo, Baribor Bera, Paul Levura, Nordu Eawo, Felix Nuate, Saturday Dobee. (The Ogoni 4 – Edward Kobani, Albert Badey, Chief Samuel Orage, and Chief Theophilus Orage’s death had been linked a desperate plan to get Saro-Wiwa killed by invoking the Death Penalty).
3) The death penalty is degrading. It turns states into prescription drug abusers, killing prisoners with drugs like sodium thiopental that manufacturers are on record as stating should only be used to healing purposes.
4) High profile cases, often with racial undertones, create political pressures that can lead to police and prosecutor misconduct. Ken Saro-Wiwa, who led Ogonis of Nigeria, between 1992 and 1995, campaign against Shell’s devastation of Ogoniland was convicted along with 8 of his kinsmen 10 days after a death sentence was passed on them despite that the judgement gave them 30 days to appeal. They were denied the right to appeal and shortly after their execution, Shell was lobbying to return to Ogoniland to resume oil operations.
5) It is not limited to the “worst of the worst”. A recent example: the execution of Teresa Lewis in Virginia on September 23; she was put to death as the “mastermind” of a crime despite her 72 IQ, and despite the fact that the men who actually carried out the crime did not get the death penalty.
6) The death penalty is not limited to cases where there is no doubt about guilt. Convicted by flimsy witness testimony, and unable to exonerate himself with those same witnesses, Troy Davis was executed despite serious doubts about his guilt. His birthday is on October 9!
7) Death penalty is been used as a political weapon against the opposition.
8) Death sentences continue to drop. In 2010 the U.S. recorded barely over 100 persons sentenced to death , compared to an average of close to 300 in the 1990s.
9) One-by-one, states are abandoning capital punishment.
10) The death penalty is not limited to cases where there is no doubt about guilt. Convicted by flimsy witness testimony, and unable to exonerate himself with those same witnesses, Troy Davis was executed despite serious doubts about his guilt. His birthday is on October 9!
11) In 1998, a condemned general, Olusegun Obasanjo was pardoned by the state and became Nigeria’s only President to hand over to a democratically elected civilian government. Although he could not successfully push for an abolition of the death penalty, he’s live was speared by the pardon and he has advocated an end to the death penalty.
12) The death penalty abolition movement is growing, and some progress is being made, but there is a lot of work yet to be done. The time to get started is now.
- This article was written with contributions from Amnesty International