Two non-governmental organisations, Access to Justice and Avocats Sans Frontèires France, have commenced a lawsuit seeking the abolishment of death sentence for armed robbery.
In their suit before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, the NGOs are urging the court to declare that Section 1(2) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions Act) Act is unconstitutional, null and void.
According to them, the provisions of the Act are in conflict with Section 34(1) of the 1999 Constitution and Articles 4 and 5 of the African Charter, which guarantee the right to human dignity and equality before the law.
The NGOs contended further that the provisions of the Act are also in conflict with sections 6(6)(a), 42 and 45 of the 1999 Constitution.
They described Section 1(2) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions Act) Act “and similar statutory provisions that mandate death penalty” as unreasonable, unjustifiable, and unconstitutional.
The NGOs are urging the court to order the defendants in the suit to immediately review the cases of all convicts who had been sentenced to death pursuant to Section 1(2) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions Act) Act
Joined as defendants in the suit are the Attorney General of the Federation; the Controller General of the Nigerian Prisons Service; and the National Human Rights Commission.
The plaintiffs want the court to order the Controller General of the Nigerian Prisons Service “to immediately remove convicts who have been sentenced under the aforesaid provision from the death row and reassign them to appropriate prison facilities, pending the review of their sentences.”
They want the court to direct the NHRC to review the cases of affected death row inmates within six months of the final judgment in the case.