Group asks African Commission to stop hanging of Edo death row inmates

APC Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole
APC Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole

SERAP also wants Edo to pay compensation to the two men.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, on Tuesday joined the growing ranks of individuals, human rights activists, and groups calling for mercy for the two condemned criminals on death row in Edo State.

Last week, the Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, signed the death warrants to confirm the Supreme Court judgment sentencing Osaremwinda Aiguohian and Daniel Nsofor to death by hanging.

Following petitions urging him to reconsider his decision, the governor reviewed the death sentences on four other convicts, commuting two to life imprisonment, while the other two were set free.

But, SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, in his petition asked the Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Modupe Atoki, to stop the execution pending their appeal still pending before the court.

In a request for provisional measures dated October 23 the organisation asked the African Commission to “urgently invoke Article 111 (Rule of Procedure) authority to request that Edo State of the Federation of Nigeria adopt provisional measures in order to stop the irreparable damage that would be caused to the two complainants and their African Charter rights.”

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The request for provisional measures was submitted in conjunction with SERAP’s communication to the African Commission.

According to the SERAP, “there are serious, persistent and irreparable violations of the Complainants’ rights to life; and to appeal to an independent and impartial tribunal, and fair trial guarantees during appeals require the Commission’s immediate and urgent attention.“

“Despite its obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other international treaties to which Nigeria is a state party, the Edo State authorities of the Federation of Nigeria continue to violate the fair trial and other rights of the two complainants and put them at risk of imminent execution,” the group said.

Expressing fears that the two criminals may be executed any moment, SERAP said it has received reports that the gallows at Benin prison were on Monday inspected and tested preparatory for the execution.

“The decision to sign a death warrant despite pending appeal by the two prisoners against their death sentences constitutes a fundamental breach of the prisoners’ right to fair trial, including the right to an appeal to an independent and impartial tribunal,” SERAP said.

Consequently, the group asked the commission to undertake an in-depth study of Articles 55, 56 and 58 of the African Charter based on the alleged “series of serious” and “massive” violations involved in the case, adding that Edo State should pay appropriate compensation to the condemned criminals for the multiple violations of their Charter rights and freedoms.

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