Published On: Thu, Dec 29th, 2016

Death Penalty: Edo executes 3, Osun pardons 4

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In spite a running moratorium which Nigeria signed and pendency of separate appeals challenging their conviction, the Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki has sent to the gallows three death row inmates at Oko prisons.

That was after Obaseki signed the death warrant of the inmates notwithstanding a formal letter intimating him of the pendency of the inmates’ appeal.

The three inmates that were executed on the strength of the death warrant signed by the state governor were Ogbomoro Omoregie, Apostle Igene and Mark Omosowhota.

They were executed on December 23, this year.

The execution of death penalty in Edo sharply contrasted the decision of Osun governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on death row inmates in prisons within his jurisdiction.

Specifically, Aregbesola granted pardon to four death row inmates in three West South West prisons.

The Director of Public Prosecutions and Secretary to the State Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy, Mr Pomade Adeniji, announced the amnesty in a statement in Osogbo.

The statement said the governor’s gesture was in commemoration of the New Year celebrations.

“Pursuant to the advice and recommendations of the State Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy, Gov. Rauf Aregbesola, in exercise of his powers, has granted amnesty to the prison inmates,’’ the statement said.

It said the inmates were serving their jail terms at federal prisons in Ilesha, Ibara and Abeokuta as well as the Maximum Security Prison, Kirikiri in Lagos.

It also listed the inmates as Kolawole Adediji and Madelon Adediji, both on the death row and now set free.

The statement also said that Ekanade Muyiwa and Adewole Olusoji, who were also on the death row, had their sentences commuted from death to 20 years of imprisonment each.

“This is in commemoration of the New Year 2017 celebrations,” the statement read.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the governor did a similar gesture last September by pardoning six inmates.

The governor was then reported to have granted the amnesty in commemoration of the country’s 56th Independence anniversary.

Meanwhile, a non-governmental organisation, Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) has attacked Edo State Governor for executing the death row inmates.

Legal Defence and Assistance Project, has described as unlawful the killing of three death row inmates in an Edo State prison on December 23, 2016.ADVERTI

LEDAP said in a statement on Wednesday by its National Coordinator, Mr. Chino Obiagwu, that the executed prisoners were sentenced to death about 20 years ago by military tribunals under the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Decree as amended.

It, however, said they were currently challenging their conviction and sentence at the court of appeal.

LEDAP accused the Edo State Government of violating the rights of the executed condemned prisoners by killing them at a time when their appeals were pending at the court of appeal.

The organisation wondered why Obaseki, who was sworn in as governor only two months ago, would make the signing of the death warrants for the condemned prisoners his priority.

LEDAP said Obaseki signed the death warrants and caused the prisoners to be killed despite the appeal to him in a December 21, 2016 letter to shelve the planned execution pending the outcome of the appeal.

It said the execution of the three condemned prisoners and those of four others whose death warrants were signed by former Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State in 2003 were a breach of the declaration by the Federal Government in the 2009 and 2014 Unversal Periodic Reports to the United Nations Human Rights Council that the country had put a moratorium in place on the use of the death penalty.

The statement read partly, “LEDAP is appalled that the earliest social duty of Governor Obaseki upon assumption of office was execution of his citizen on death row. We reiterate that all prisoners, including those sentenced to death, retain all the fundamental rights endowed on all citizens by the 1999 Constitution. This was re-emphasised by the Court of Appeal in the case of Peter Nemi v Attorney General of Lagos State in 1994. The Supreme Court of Nigeria also held in Nasir Bello v Attorney-General of Oyo State that a prisoner cannot be legally executed while his case is pending in court

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