A human rights organisation, 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.
The organisation identified the prisoners executed on the order of Governor Godwin Obaseki as Ogbomoro Omoregie, Apostle Igene and Mark Omosowhota.
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 had challenged their conviction and sentence at the court of appeal.
LEDAP accused the Edo State Government of violating the rights of the executed prisoners by killing them at a time when their appeals were pending at the Court of Appeal.
LEDAP alleged that Obaseki signed the death warrants and caused the prisoners to be killed despite the appeal to him in a December 21, 2016 letter to suspend the execution pending the outcome of the appeal.
It said the execution of the three condemned prisoners and four others whose death warrants were signed by former Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State in 2013 were a breach of the declaration by the Federal Government in the 2009 and 2014 Universal Periodic Reports to the United Nations Human Rights Council that the country had put in place a moratorium on death penalty.
The statement read in part, “LEDAP is appalled that the earliest social duty of Governor Obaseki upon assumption of office was the execution of his citizens 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 could not be legally executed while his case was pending in court.
“Insofar as an appeal against the sentences of the death row prisoners in Nigeria are pending in court, to the knowledge of the prison authorities and the government who participated in the high court proceedings before the appeal, there is no legal justification for the Edo executions, more so when it was carried out cruelly on a day to the eve of Christmas.
“It is also appalling that the Edo State Government carried out the execution despite the declaration by Nigerian government at its 2009 and 2014 Universal Periodic Reports to the United Nations Human Rights Council that Nigeria has put in place a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.” (Punchng.com)