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ECOWAS Court to hear from two Nigerians on death row

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The ECOWAS Court of Justice has scheduled judgment for Wednesday, 18 November 2020, in a case brought by Abu Dennis Uluebeka and Mary Bahago, two Nigerians on death row.

The two are alleging the violation of their human rights by the Federal Republic of Nigeria during their trial.

A three-member panel of the court, presided over by Justice Dupe Atoki, fixed the date on Friday, 18 September 2020, after hearing the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs claimed that the trial that resulted in their conviction was marked by a lack of due process, denial of access to justice and fair hearing, while being subjected to the threat of secret execution by the defendant.

In the case filed by their Counsel, Noah Ajare, the plaintiffs, who have been in detention in the country’s correctional facilities in Lagos and Niger States respectively for about 15 years, alleged that they had ‘unsatisfactory legal representation’ during the trial. They further claimed that they were also subjected to inhuman conditions and were tortured while in detention.

In the consolidated cases, with suit numbers ECW/CCJ/APP/45/18 and ECW/CCJ/APP/42/18, the first and second plaintiffs, now 88 and 48 years respectively, who were sentenced to death by hanging, submitted that they have exhausted all the opportunities for appeal. They were recommended for amnesty by the Federal Board and Committee on Prison Visit recently, due to their chronic medical condition and ill health.

The plaintiffs are seeking an order of the court affirming that they have suffered extreme mental torture and inhuman and degrading conditions 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 should be released, and by virtue of their age and medical condition, they are entitled to be released forthwith from detention.

They also urged the court to direct the defendant to pay a monetary compensation of 50 000 000 Naira to the applicants for damages suffered as a result of the long years of imprisonment under cruel, degrading and inhuman conditions, among others.

However, at the resumed hearing of the case, Counsel to the Defendant, Barrister Unyime Ebuk urged the court to strike out the case for lack of coherence in the reliefs sought by the applicants, stating that their claims cannot be substantiated.

The panel has Justices Keikura Bangura and Januaria Tavares Silva Moreira Costa.


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