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July 1 2013 | NIGERIA

Community of Sant'Egidio Nigeria. Life is sacred gift alone from God. (EN)

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Community of Sant’Egidio protests against executions in Edo State

Life is a sacred gift alone from God and should be cherished and protected in all its totality. It is against this background that the Community of Sant’Egidio protests against the hanging of four convicted inmates in Benin City prison earlier this week.

Such executions mark a brutal return to the use of the death penalty in Nigeria, which had rightly been put on hold since more than seven years. The Community of Sant’Egidio is joining the rest of the world in protesting  against these executions and others previously carried out. It calls on the Nigerian authorities to suspend all executions immediately with a view to re-establish the moratorium on executions in the country.

We believe that no man has the right to take the life of another person, because creation is the sole reserve of God, the supreme creator. We oppose the death penalty in all cases without exception, as it is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment any human being can receive.

We wish to state here that no life has been replaced by the death of another. Furthermore, there is scientific evidence that capital punishment is not helpful in lowering the level of crime rate. Rather, it continues the infernal circle of violence and vengeance. There is no justice without life!

The use of death penalty as punishment for capital crimes should be jettisoned by all. It is a total disservice to humanity and it has never brought the much needed change in human behavior.

Worse still is the fact that innocent people are caught in this wicked web, with their only offence being at the wrong place and the wrong time. This is typical in Nigeria, especially as governments execute prisoners only in a bid to decongest the various prisons scattered across the country.

With great sympathy we mourn the death of these Nigerians who have been executed and commensurate with their families on their loss. As we pray for the souls of the departed, there is the need for everyone to speak-up with one voice in condemning death penalty and continuously ask the federal government and state governments to explore other options in their fight and determination to eradicate crime in our society.

If many other countries, in Africa and elsewhere, in recent years have abolished death penalty and have developed more effective and more human means to fight crime and evil in their countries, then the federal government should as a matter of urgency, collaborate with such countries to adopt the strategies employed by such countries in cutting down the crime rate.

As a catholic community present in more than seventy countries all over the world, committed to friendship with the poor, the sick and the lonely and especially with prisoners, Sant’Egidio will continue to foster the abolition of death penalty, until it will be banned from humanity.

This is why Sant’Egidio promotes the ‘Cities for Life – Cities against the Death Penalty’ every year on November 30th, in order to promote a culture of life. This is why Sant’Egidio also strongly opposes the culture of lynching and extra-judicial killings, so widespread in our beloved country. In a society ruled by law, every man and woman should have the right to defense and due legal process.

May our country and the world soon witness the end of capital punishment! May human life be protected in our  country by all means! Just as humanity one day saw the abolition of slavery, which had accompanied human history for centuries, may the world likewise soon witness the abolition of death penalty!

For the Community of Sant’Egidio in Nigeria

M. Henry Ezike

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