Month: January 2017

PRESS RELEASE-LEDAP CONDEMNS ARREST OF PREMIUM TIMES PUBLISHER AND STAFF

LEDAP hereby condemns the arrest and detention of the publisher of Premium Times, Mr Dapo Olorunyomi and a female journalist, Evelyn Okakwu following feud between the newspaper and the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai, on alleged defamatory publications.

LEDAP reiterates that freedom speech and freedom press are indispensable to any democratic government. It is evident that these acts of intimidation and harassment of the members of the press for information they lawfully disseminate has become very prevalent under the current administration. While we firmly agree that laws against defamation are limitations to freedom of expression, it is a matter for the court to decide not the Nigerian Police Force. This has been long decided by the courts in the cases of Chike Obi v. DPP, and Olawoyin v. AG Northern Nigeria.
LEDAP is worried that the press cannot be made to live in the apprehension of punishment or arrests for publication which offends the sensibilities of certain persons, even when the publication is justified within the bounds of the law. This would leave the public with information that has been vetoed by those in high places and would certainly be against the tenor of the constitutional right to freedom of expression.

LEDAP therefore condemns the arrests as undemocratic, unlawful and unwarranted and demand that the arrested journalist be released within 24hours. We equally urge President Muhammed Buhari, to call the Chief of Army Staff, members of the Nigerian Armed Forces, and officers of the Nigeria Police Force to order. The rule of law must at all times be respected by this administration. Nigeria’s democracy has come too far for such flagrant abuse of constitutionally guaranteed rights.

 

 

Signed

Adaobi Egboka

Executive Programmes Director

THE GUARDIAN-LEDAP condemns execution of prisoners in Edo, seeks repeal of death penalty

Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) has condemned the killing on December 23, 2016 of three death row prisoners in Benin City prison.

As a result, LEDAP has called on the Nigerian government to stop all death penalty executions forthwith.

It urged the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly to amend the Criminal Code and Penal Code as well as the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act to remove death sentence as punishment for crimes and replace it with life imprisonment or term of years sentence.
The prisoners were reportedly executed on account of death warrants signed by Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki.

Those executed were Ogbomoro Omoregie, Apostle Igene and Mark Omosowhota.

They were all convicted and sentenced to death nearly 20 years ago by military tribunals under the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Decree as amended, LEDAP said.

According to a statement by the National Coordinator of LEDAP, Chino Obiagwu, the executed prisoners had earlier petitioned the governor, protesting their proposed execution.

“In an earlier petition submitted to the Governor by the executed prisoners on December 21, 2016 through LEDAP, protesting the plan for their execution, the prisoners had pleaded with the Governor to shelve the planned execution because there is a pending case at the Court of Appeal brought by all death row prisoners in Nigeria against their execution. This appeal has not been decided and it was therefore, illegal to carry out the executions,” he said.

LEDAP, he said, is appalled that the earliest social duty of Governor Obaseki upon assumption of office was the execution of his citizen on death row. “We reiterate that all prisoners, including those sentenced to death, retain all the fundamental rights endowed on all citizens by the 1999 Constitution.

This was re-amphasized by the Court of Appeal in the case of Peter Nemi v Attorney General of Lagos State in 1994.

“The Supreme Court of Nigeria also held in Nasir Bello v Attorney-General of Oyo State that a prisoner cannot be legally executed while his case is pending in court. In so far as an appeal against the sentences of the death row prisoners in Nigeria are pending in court, to the knowledge of the prison authorities and the government who participated in the high court proceedings before the appeal, there is no legal justification for the Edo executions, moreso when it was carried out cruelly on a day to the eve of Christmas.”

The group frowned at the action based on the fact that Edo State government carried out the execution despite the declaration by Nigerian government at its 2009 and 2014 Universal Periodic Reports (UPR) to the United Nations Human Rights Council that Nigeria has put in place a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

Obiagwu said the December 23, 2016 execution of these three prisoners, as well as the similar execution of four prisoners on June 21,2013 by the same Edo State government have undermined Nigeria’s declarations to the international community for death penalty moratorium.

See more at:

m.guardian.ng/features/ledap-condemns-execution-of-prisoners-in-edo-seeks-repeal-of-death-penalty/