NIGERIA: FOUR CONVICTS HANGED IN EDO FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 2006
June 24, 2013: Nigeria hanged four prisoners at Benin City Prison in Edo State, in the country's first executions since 2006.
Chima Ejiofor, Daniel Nsofor, Osarenmwinda Aigbonkhan and Richard Igagu were executed after their death warrants had been signed - two by Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole, and the others by Governors of other States.
According to the Supreme Court, Aiguohian killed and dismembered the body of his victim while Nsofor forcefully robbed, tortured and strangulated his victim to death. A fifth prisoner, Thankgod Ebhos, was also due to be executed, but his sentence dated back to the military era that ended in 1999 and called for him to be killed by firing squad, which prison authorities were not yet prepared to do.
In the afternoon, the Federal High Court in Benin had rejected a lawsuit filed by Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) against execution warrants signed by the Governor of Edo State in October 2012. In the suit, the prisoners on death row had contended that to execute them after over 16 years of trauma, suspense and imminent death would amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. They had asked the Court to order the Edo State Governor to commute their death sentences to terms of imprisonment. The Court dismissed LEDAP’s appeal around 3 p.m. “They (authorities) had already started preparing for the executions, they turned us away from the prison and by 6:15 p.m. we heard from clients (in the prison) that they had been executed,” said Chino Obiagwu, LEDAP’s National Coordinator. He said traumatized inmates called him to describe “terrible sounds” like a drum rolling, shackles scratching and the screams of those condemned begging for mercy.
LEDAP, on behalf of two of the convicts, Daniel Nsofor and Osaremwinda Aigbuohian, had filed another appeal at the Court of Appeal in Lagos against the judgment of the Federal High Court and also a motion for stay of execution pending the outcome of the appeal.
LEDAP condemned the execution, which took place despite their pending appeals. “Under Nigerian laws, an appeal and application for stay of execution should restrain further action until the appeal is determined. By executing the prisoners, Nigeria government has demonstrated gross disregard to the rule of law and respect for the judicial process,” Chino Obiagwu said.
President Goodluck Jonathan had recently directed State Governors to exercise their constitutional powers and sign the execution warrant of death row inmates, advising them not to shy away from same, as it was part of their duties. (Sources: AFP, BBC, Vanguard, AP, 25/06/2013)