Saturday, April 19, 2014

Edo to hang two death row inmates despite global plea for amnesty

Published:

The Edo State Governor legally approved the killing of the condemned criminals

 

In spite of pleas by the human rights community, within and outside the country, for the reduction of the death sentence on two condemned criminals in Edo State, the gallows in Benin City are being prepared to effect the execution.

The Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, signed the death warrants to confirm the Supreme Court judgement that condemned Osaremwinda Aiguohian and Daniel Nsofor to death by hanging.

Though the governor, following the petitions, reviewed the death sentences on four other convicts, and commuted two to life imprisonment, while the other two were set free, he confirmed the execution of the sentences on the death row inmates, as their crimes were considered too heinous to warrant any mercy.

Mr. Aiguohian reportedly showed no mercy while committing his criminal act, as he did not only kill his victim after robbing him, but also dismembered the body.

Though in his statement of defence during trial, Mr. Aiguohian described his action as a “mistake”, the Supreme Court was convinced he deserved to serve his 2004 death sentence, as his likes “belong to Hades.”

Similarly, Mr. Nsofor was said to have strangled a woman to death after forcefully dispossessing her of money and other personal effects.

No date has been fixed for the execution of the two convicts.

The justification

The governor’s decision, to confirm the sentences on the condemned criminals, followed the recommendation of prison authorities contained in the report to the government following the recent jail break incident at the Oko Prison in Benin City.

The report had highlighted the dangers of continued imprisonment of condemned persons in the state.

PREMIUM TIMES gathered that the report accused the condemned inmates of having the propensity to organize jail breaks, often with connivance and support of other prisoners.

Following the signing of the death warrant by the governor, it was gathered on Friday, that the gallows at the Benin City Prison are now being prepared for the execution of the two condemned persons by hanging.

Edo State Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, Osagie Obayuwana, justified the action of the governor, saying he did nothing unlawful, as he acted within the limits of the law conferring on him the right to exercise his Prerogative of Mercy on condemned criminals.

Appeals for leniency

Various human rights activists, groups and advocates had, since the sentence by the apex court, asked Mr. Oshiomhole to respect the sanctity of life, tamper justice with mercy, and commit the death sentences to life imprisonment with hard labour.

Apart from the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, which sent a passionate plea to the governor for mercy for the convicted criminals, Amnesty International also condemned, in strong terms, the decision of the governor to sign the death warrants.

According to International Organisation, most countries in the world, including those in Africa, have since embraced the humanitarian habit of commuting death sentences to life imprisonment in respect of the sanctity of life.

However, in spite of the human rights groups’ outrage, some provisions of the relevant legal instruments appear to sanction the execution of criminals who take the life of other human beings.

Though Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UNDHR provides that: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person,” Article 30 states: “Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity, or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.”

Similarly, Section 33(1) of the1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides that: “Every person has a right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria.”

Equally, Section 35 (1) states: “Every person shall be entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of such liberty, save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure permitted by law:

(a) in execution of the sentence or order of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty;

(b) by reason of his failure to comply with the order of a court or in order to secure the fulfillment of any obligation imposed upon him by law.

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