A human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), has urged Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode not to sign the warrant of death authorising the killing of the General-Overseer of the Christian Praying Assembly, Chukwuemeka Ezeugo, a.k.a Rev. King and other condemned inmates in the state.
The outspoken lawyer instead advised the governor to commute the death penalty passed on death row inmates in the state to life imprisonment.
Falana who stated this in a letter dated April 19, 2017 and addressed to Governor Ambode, said his advice was based on a subsisting judgment delivered on June 29, 2012 by Justice Mufutau Olokooba of the High Court of Lagos State which ruled that it was illegal and unconstitutional to execute condemned inmates.
The letter read in part, “On the basis of the valid and subsisting judgment of the Lagos High Court on the illegality of the execution of the death penalty in Lagos State we urge Your Excellency not to sign a death warrant authorising the killing of any condemned prisoner either by hanging, firing squad or any other means whatsoever.
“In the circumstance, Your Excellency may wish to commute the death sentences of all condemned prisoners in Lagos State to life imprisonment forthwith.
“Although many persons have been convicted for armed robbery and murder and sentenced to death by the Lagos State High Court since 1999 your predecessors did not sign death warrants for the execution of any person on death row.
“Accordingly, all the convicts on death row have had the death sentences imposed on them commuted to life imprisonment.
“It is pertinent to draw the attention of Your Excellency to the case of Ajulu & Ors. V. Attorney-General of Lagos State (unreported) Suit No: ID/76M/2008 of 29th June 2012 wherein the Lagos State High Court held that while a person who commits murder may be sentenced to death it is illegal and unconstitutional to execute such death sentence by hanging or firing squad as it will lead to the violation of his fundamental right to freedom from torture guaranteed by the Constitution. According to the learned trial judge, Olokooba J:”
The lawyer further argued that “death by hanging and firing squad amounts to a violation of the condemned right to dignity of the human person and amount to inhuman and degrading treatment, is consequently unconstitutional being violative of section 34(1)(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. Section 367 of the Criminal Procedure Law of Lagos State and any other Law which provides for hanging and condemned by the neck till he be dead are accordingly declared unconstitutional. Section 1(3) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act in so far as it seeks to be implemented by the Respondent it is also declared unconstitutional and void.”
This is at a time the Attorney-General of the state, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, had during a press conference on Tuesday said that unlike previous administrations, Governor Ambode would sign the necessary documents to execute those on death row in the state.
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