Nigeria: ECOWAS court begins hearing in case challenging death row provisions in Nigeria's statute books

Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) - The Community Court of Justice, ECOWAS, will Tuesday begin hearing in a case brought by Nnenna Obi, a prisoner who has been on death row in Nigeria’s South-east Enugu State since 2005 challenging the provisions for mandatory death sentence in Nigeria’s statute books.

Nnenna is asking the court to hold that her conviction for murder by the High Court of Anambra State, South-east Nigeria, which was subsequently confirmed by appellate courts, violated her fundamental rights to life and dignity of human person guaranteed under sections 33 and 34 of the 1999 Nigerian constitution and Articles 4 and 5 of the
African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which the country is a signatory.

Specifically, Nnenna, who filed the case on behalf of other death row prisoners, is asking the ECOWAS court to declare that the provisions of death sentence in the laws of Nigeria are inconsistent with the provisions of the 1993 ECOWAS Revised Treaty, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other laws and treaty relating to the right to freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

The plaintiff also wants a declaration that the provision of death sentence for anyone convicted of murder or armed robbery under the constitution and Nigeria’s criminal code were gross violations of her rights and those of other death row inmates as ECOWAS citizens.

She therefore wants the court to order Nigeria to amend, revise and alter in all its statute books at all levels the mandatory sentencing provisions of sentencing under section 319 of the Criminal Code and the relevant sections of the Robbery and Firearms Act, and replace them with provisions that allow the court the discretion of sentencing in all matters.

Moreover, she wants the court to direct the government to reconsider the sentences of the plaintiff and other death row inmates, who were sentenced under the mandatory sentencing provisions to allow the courts that sentenced them determine the appropriateness of their sentence and where necessary commute them to terms of imprisonment.
-0- PANA SEG 18Jan2016

18 january 2016 22:01:37

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