by Rachel Ogbu
Four convicted criminals have been executed in Edo State, government officials confirmed on Monday.
The criminals had been on death row for years but were recently executed by hanging, a move that has elicited condemnation from Amnesty International.
According to reports, the international human rights group, in a statement, had called for restraint on the part of the Nigerian government in carrying out the exercise.
Deputy Director for Africa, AI, Lucy Freeman, said if the government really went ahead and executed those men then it mark a sudden, brutal return to the use of the death penalty in Nigeria, a truly dark day for human rights in the country.
“We again urge the Nigerian authorities to stop all executions immediately and return to the moratorium on execution in the country. We oppose the death penalty in all cases without exception, as it is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.”
The Punch reports:
When contacted, state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Henry Idahagbon, confirmed the execution.
He said their convictions were secured years ago from the Supreme Court and that three of the executed criminals were convicted outside the state, but had been in prison in Benin.
On claims that there was a stay of execution order, Idahagbon said his office got the stay of execution papers, but that the execution was not carried out by his office.
The prison authorities, however, claimed they did not receive any stay of execution order.
Also, a legal rights group, Legal Defence Assistance Project, condemned the execution.
The group’s National Coordinator, Mr. Chino Obiagwu, said the execution of the inmates was in violation of the appeal he filed on behalf of all death row inmates in the country.
Obiagwu said, “Today, the LEDAP frowns on the execution of four death row prisoners – Chima Ejiofor, Daniel Nsofor, Osarenmwinda Aiguokhan and Richard Igagu – in Edo State despite their pending appeals at the court of appeal.
“The AG of Edo State and the prison authorities were duly served with the court processes, comprising the notice of appeal and motion for stay of execution.”