Nigerian governors approve more than 300 executions | world | Hindustan Times
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Nigerian governors approve more than 300 executions

world Updated: Apr 22, 2010 01:40 IST

Nigeria's state governors have backed the execution of more than 300 prisoners on death row to clear space in the overcrowded jails of Africa's most populous country.

"It was agreed that those people who have been condemned should be executed accordingly," said Theodore Orji, governor of the southeastern state of Abia, after a meeting of the 36 state governors in the capital Abuja on Wednesday.

A total of 330 prisoners are on death row in a country where capital punishment remains on the statutes despite rarely being implemented.

The last official execution dates from 2002, but Amnesty International, which campaigns against the death penalty, said it has found evidence of ongoing secret executions in prisons.

The governors, who have the power to sign execution orders, said also that 80 per cent of Nigeria's prison population is awaiting trial and efforts should be made to "leave go" those serving lengthy remands, according to Orji.

Koyode Odeyemi of the Nigerian Prisones Service said that 36,000 of the 40,106 inmates are awaiting trial.

Human rights activist Chidi Odinkalu of the Open Society Justice Initiative said that instead of clearing a death-row backlog, the governors should probe the methods used by the police to tackle crime.