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Despite International Plea, Lagos Won’t Expunge Death Penalty From Its Criminal Law

Lagos State has thrown away international plea that it should expunge death sentence from its criminal law as the government insists on retaining it in the law to serve as deterrent to murders and armed robbers.

The international communities have been advocating the abrogation of death sentence from nation’s criminal system and have been mounting pressure on nations to expunge same from its criminal laws.

Following several abolition campaigns and international advocacy which were addressed to the Lagos State Government in particular as the pace setter in justice sector reforms, the State Executive Council considered the proposition to abolish or retain the death penalty in the Lagos State Common Law.

Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye said in taking its decision, the State commissioned an empirical research that surveyed the perception of Lagos residents and elicited their opinion on the abolition debate, including the question whether they believe the death penalty currently deters violent crime.

The objective and outcome of the survey, he said, is therefore to inform the development of a State policy on capital punishment that relies on empirical evidence and is based on consultation with citizens and justice sector stakeholders.

The survey was undertaken in two categories: public survey (random selection of 2,000 members of the public) and the experts’ survey (selected 100 persons who have close contact with the criminal justice process and systems).

The outcome of the survey, in a statement issued by the Ministry of Justice reveals that 51.1 percent of respondents advised Lagos State Government to execute convicts on the death row while only 38. 5 percent maintained otherwise. 9.7 percent were undecided while 0.8 percent did not proffer any opinion.

Whilst 61.9 percent of the respondents believed that the death penalty is a necessary retributive tool, as much as 59 percent opined that the death penalty does not bring a sense of happiness to the family of the victim(s). A majority of the respondents (67.2 percent) however recommended that Lagos State should retain the death penalty.

The study found that gender, age and religion play important roles in understanding the orientation of Lagos residents on the issue of capital punishment. Hence while majority of the people support death penalty across the socio-demographics, more males, older people and less religious people support the death penalty.

Majority of the respondents surveyed supported the use of the death penalty in Lagos State. The survey also revealed that over 54 percent of the respondents advised the Lagos State Government to execute convicts on death row. A large number of respondents also believed that the death penalty is a necessary retributive tool and a majority of the respondents recommended that the State should retain death penalty because it serves positive retributive and deterrence purposes.

In the light of the results of the perceptions and expert survey, Ipaye said the Lagos State Executive Council adopted the position that the death penalty should be retained in the Criminal Law of Lagos State to serve as deterrence against violent crimes, such as murder and armed robbery.


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