Panafrican News Agency

ECOWAS court orders Nigeria to pay 20 million Naira to former death row convicts

Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) - A panel of three judges of the ECOWAS Court of Justice on Wednesday ordered the Federal Republic of Nigeria to pay 10 million Naira as compensation to each of two persons who suffered inhuman and degrading treatment while on death row.

Led by Justice Dupe Atoki, the Court held that prolonged delay while “awaiting execution in conditions of severe detention where they experienced constant anguish, fear, physical and mental suffering reached the level of severity that constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment prohibited by the African Charter.”

The first and second plaintiffs, Abu Dennis Uluebeka and Mary Bahago, were on death row for 15 and 20 years respectively but the sentence for Mary was commuted to life imprisonment from October 2018 while Abu, an elder of more than 80 years, has been released from prison custody, his representative told the Court.

Delivering the judgment, the judge rapporteur, Justice Januaria Costa stated that while the Court was able to conclude that there was infringement of their rights not to be subjected to torture and inhuman treatment, it could not find sufficient and convincing factual evidence to confirm the claim of the first and second applicants that they were not receiving the needed medical care and treatment while in detention.

The first and second plaintiffs now 88 years and 48 years old respectively, submitted that they were convicted for murder and sentenced to death by hanging and while awaiting execution detained in inhuman conditions and subjected to torture.

They also alleged that they were denied satisfactory legal representation during the trial and had exhausted all their chances and opportunity of appeal. They further stated they were recommended for amnesty by the Federal Board and Committee that visited both prisons recently due to their chronic medical condition and ill health.

Consequently, they urged the Court for an order that the applicants have suffered extreme mental torture, inhuman and degrading condition having been kept on death row for more than 15 years and without access to adequate medical treatment and that the first and second applicants, by virtue of their age and medical condition, were entitled to immediate release from detention.

-0- PANA PR/AR 19Nov2020