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Condemned man sues Oyo govt for non-execution

Posted by By AKEEB ALARAPE, Ibadan and MOSHOOD ADEBAYO, Abeokuta on 2007/02/16 | Views: 768 |

Condemned man sues Oyo govt for non-execution

For delaying his execution, a condemned man has taken Oyo State authorities to court, alleging infringement of his fundamental human rights.

•10 others waiting for hangman’s noose for over 10 years

For delaying his execution, a condemned man has taken Oyo State authorities to court, alleging infringement of his fundamental human rights.

Alhaji Rafiu Salawu Amoo, 55, has been awaiting the hangman’s noose almost 19 years after he was convicted and sentenced to death for murder by an Ibadan High Court.

The certificate of judgement issued at Ibadan on November 30, 1988 reads inter alia: “The sentence of the court is that you be taken from here to a lawful prison and from there to a place of execution where you shall be hanged by the neck until you be dead. And may the Lord have mercy upon your soul.”

Amoo, who was convicted by Justice Kayode Adesina, is still cooling his heels at the condemned cell of the Federal Prisons, Abeokuta, praying for death to come each passing day.

But the convict is not taking the execution of the judgement lying low. In a suit filed on his behalf by the Zonal Director, Legal Aid Council, Ibadan, Fatai Bakre, Amoo claims that he has been subjected to psychological trauma, inhuman treatment and distress, having waited in vain on the death row for 18 and half years.

The application for the motion exparte has the Governor of Oyo State and the Attorney-General of the state as respondents and was supported by 15-paragraph affidavit, deposed to by one Akeem Adetunji, a Litigation Clerk with the Legal Aid Council.

In the sworn affidavit, Adetunji pointed out thus:
“That I am informed by the applicant and I verily believe that as a result of his incarceration in the condemned cell and being on death row in the past 19 years, he (convict) had been traumatised, suffered anguish and distressed, for each passing day is a living hell. Particularly, on occasions when he hears heavy footsteps towards his cell, he always thought the executioner has come for him finally.”

This ugly development, Bakre pointed out, was a violation of section 34(1)(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1991 as well as Articles 3 and 5 of African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, Ratification and Enforcement Act (cap 10) laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990.

He, therefore, sought the order of the court to ‘bring an application for the enforcement of the applicant’s Fundamental Human Right to wit; Right to dignity of human person as enshrined in Section 34 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria; an order staying the execution of the applicant pending the hearing and determination of this application and such order or orders as the court may deem fit to make in the circumstance of this case’.

While granting the orders, the presiding judge, Mr. Justice J. T. Tosho, said he was satisfied by the argument of Bakre on the need for the applicant to enforce his fundamental human rights and therefore ordered that the warrant to carry out the death sentence on Amoo, should be stayed.

Amoo, then 35, was sentenced to death by hanging after being found guilty in a murder case brought before Justice Okeyode Adesina of an Oyo State High Court. However, successive governments in the state were said to have been reluctant in signing his death warrant and many others in his fate, making him to languish in jail.

Further hearing in the case has been fixed for February 28.
Aside from Amoo, there are others like Lawrence Egwu, 56 from Abia State, who has been languishing in the Abeokuta Federal Prison for over a decade.
Others on the death row since July 8, 1997 include Gabriel Ashaolu, 50, Lekan Ibitoye 50, Morufu Gbadamosi, 52 and Musa Idris, 55.

The four were convicted along with another who was later granted amnesty by the administration of Alhaji Lamidi Adesina through a warrant dated October 18, 1999 .
Also on the death row since August 11, 1992 is Mr. Ajiboye Adeoye who was sentenced to death under the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Decree of 1984.

Commenting on what he described “as violation to the right of dignity of human person,” Bakre, whose organisation is statutorily charged with the responsibility of providing free legal services to indigent people, wondered why a person should be kept that long in a prison after conviction.
According to him: “Justice delayed is justice denied. If you have sentenced somebody to death, then it is better you carry out the execution without further delay than keeping him or her on the death row for such long period of a time.”

On why our prisons have many condemned convicts, Bakare said many state governors were afraid of being linked with anybody’s death “hence they refused to exercise their statutory function by signing death warrants.

“As long as state governors, for political reasons shirk their responsibilities to sign death warrants, our prisons, particularly the condemned cells shall continue to have more than inmates.”
The LAC boss also prayed state governors to constantly exercise their prerogative of mercy in respect of convicts. “They don’t have to necessarily wait till the festive period or the nation’s anniversaries before they grant amnesty. Prerogative of mercy by governors should b exercised at any point in time”

Commenting on the robbery convicts, the LAC Director said: “It is unfortunate that these four men under the crime they committed (in 1997), could not appeal, yet they are not executed. This is infringement on their fundamental rights to dignity of human person.”
Since the state has not deemed it fit to carry out the execution, then they should release these classes of people. I think they have suffered enough.

They have suffered enough; they should be released because oppression is worse even than slaughter. If you oppress somebody it is worse than killing him, keeping them on this death row for the long period of time is more oppressing than if they had been executed.”

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