Category: Publications

LEDAP Contemporary Slavery Project

On Tuesday July 4th 2017, the Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) launched its Project on Contemporary Slavery by conducting an ‘Experts Seminar on Strategies to Address Contemporary Forms of Slavery’. This Project will begin both advocacy and grassroots work for advancement in the areas of Child Marriage, Child Labour and Trafficking in Persons. In presenting a Background Paper based on research conducted by LEDAP’s research assistants, the presenter highlighted that efforts to curb contemporary slavery in Nigeria require collaboration across board between NGOs, the government, international bodies and persons/bodies working to see the end of contemporary slavery in Nigeria and around the world. To download the extended Seminar Report and the Background Paper, please click the links below:

LEDAP Seminar Report- Contemporary Slavery

Background Paper on Contemporary Slavery

 

 

10TH OCTOBER 2016: PRESS RELEASE ON THE WORLD DAY AGAINST THE DEATH PENALTY

 

Lagos, Monday October 10 2016:

As the world today marks UN Day Against the use of Death Penalty, Legal Defence and Assistance Project  (LEDAP) calls on the Nigerian government to take urgent steps to protect her citizens facing the death penalty in foreign countries especially in south east Asia.

It is estimated that nearly 650 Nigerians may be on death row or facing capital charges in China,  Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietman, most of them for drug offences. More than 10 Nigerians have been executed in the last one year despite international condemnation of their possible faulty trials.

LEDAP is concerned that the arrests, interogations and trials of these Nigerians usually violated basic norms of fair hearing. Most of them had no interpreters during questioning upon arrest and even during trials.

The law of nations require that where a foreigner is arrested for any offence, the consulate or embassy of such person must be notified and the necessary consular services provided to the suspect, especially legal services and interpreters. In most of the cases of Nigerians arrested and tried in south east Asia, these rules are not complied with. As a result, there are high liklihood that their trials, convictions and sentences violate basic principles of fair trial.

The world day against the use of the death penalty is to remind governments and people of the world of the danger of death sentence for any offence. Not only that there is very high risk of convicting and killing an innocent person, the death penalty is widely used against the poor and vulnerable groups including minorities.

LEDAP calls on Nigeria to enter into diplomatic negotiations with countries of the south east Asia and Saudi Arabia to secure prison transfers of all Nigerians currently convicted and sentenced to death in those countries, and to ensure that consulate services are provided in future to any Nigerian arrested and charged in any foreign country.

LEDAP also urges the Nigerian National Assembly to adopt laws to abolish the use of death sentence as punishment for any crime. LEDAP has recorded exenoration of nearly a third of over 55 cases of death row prisoners it handled on appeal in the last 5 years, indicating a very high risk of wrongful convictions in the country. There is no justification to continue to use the death penalty in Nigeria in those circumstances.

Chino Obiagwu
National Coordinator LEDAP

 

 

 

 

TOPE OLUWASILE’S STORY

Tope Oluwasile was arrested on the 30th June 2002, on allegation of conspiracy to commit armed robbery and armed robbery. He was subsequently convicted and sentenced to death by the Lagos High Court. The Court of Appeal, Lagos had on the 9th December, 2013 delivered
judgment in his favour and found him innocent, following the appeal filed by his lawyers at Legal Defence and Assistance Project – (LEDAP).

The case against Tope Oluwasile brought at the high court,  The case against him was that on the 30th day of June 2002 along the Railway Line beside the Ikeja Local Government Secretariat, he conspired to rob and robbed while armed with a kitchen knife, one Sergeant Ishola Isiaka of his handset and sim card valued at N20,000 (Twenty Thousand naira) . However, Mr.Oluwasile claimed he was innocent. He stated at the trial court that he was arrested on the 30th June, 2002 while he was plying his trade as a commercial bus driver during a police raid at Shogunle bus stop, Ikeja. He was charged along with three other persons whom he only met for the first time in custody. Nevertheless he was convicted and sentenced to death.

Following the appeal against his conviction and sentence, filed by LEDAP, a panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division to wit; Honourable Justices J. S. Ikyegh, M. M. Saulawa and C. E. Iyizoba on the 9th of December, 2013 unanimously allowed the appeal.

In the judgment, Court resolved all the issues raised at the appeal in favour of the appellant. In particularly, the court found that the case of the prosecution was not proved beyond reasonable doubt.

This is another case that calls for an in-depth re-evaluation and urgent overhauling of our Criminal Justice System, especially as it relates to the use of capital punishment due to the high and continuously growing number of wrongful convictions in the country.
In a study in 2011, LEDAP found that 46% of the cases in which appellants were sentenced to death were overturned on appeal, giving indication of a high possibility of wrongful convictions.

LEDAP uses this medium to call on the Nigeria government to reconsider its stand on the use of capital punishment by abolishing the use of death penalty and replacing same with life imprisonment.

IDOWU SHOBOWALE AND KABIRU OMOLADE’S STORY

Idowu Shobowale and Kabiru Omolade were arrested on the 29th December, 1996 on allegation of murder. The two were subsequently convicted and sentenced to death on 13th November, 2003 by the Lagos High Court.

The case against Idowu Shobowale and Kabiru Omolade at the high court was that they participated in a fight between members of the Apostolic church, Bayeku and the followers of Igunnuko of the same village on the 21st December, 1996 which led to the death of one Pastor Oluwatosin Olaide. The Prosecution’s case was that the fight started when the Igunnuko worshippers invaded the Apostolic church’s compound during a revival service at the church and a fight ensued between the church members and the Igunnuko worshippers. The two, Idowu Shobowale and Kabiru Omolade, with one Olabisisi (3rd accused person at the trial court) were members of Igunnuko worshippers who took part in the fight. The case of against Idowu Shobowale was he came to the scene of the fight when he heard of the fight just to take away his child who was attending the church service and denied participating or instigating the masquerade to enter the church. Kabiru Omolade also confirmed that Idowu did not attack the deceased or take part in the fight and is not a member of the Igunnuko worshipper. Kabiru further stated in his evidence that even though he is Igunnuko worshipper and participated in the fight, that he did not stab the deceased. At the end of the trial in 2003, the trial court found them guilty and sentenced them to death.

 

Following the appeal against their conviction and sentence, filed by LEDAP, a panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division to wit; Honourable Justices Rita Nosakhare Pemu, C. C. Nweze and J. S. Ikyegh today, the 13th May, 2013 unanimously allowed the appeal of the two appellants and set aside their conviction and sentence to death in a landmark judgment. In the judgment, the Honourable court resolved 5 out of 7 of the issues raised at the appeal in favour of Idowu Shobowale and Kabiru Omolade, the appellants in the appeal. In the end, the court particularly found that: the prosecution failed to prove that it was the act or omission of the Appellants that resulted in the death of the deceased; that the contradictions in the 3 key prosecution witnesses cast heavy doubt on guilt of the appellants and finally that the case of the prosecution was not proved by the prosecution and therefore that the decision of the trial court which found the appellants guilty of murder of the deceased was against the weight of evidence adduced at the trial.

 

This is another case that calls for an in-depth re-evaluation and urgent overhauling of our Criminal Justice System, especially as it relates to the use of capital punishment due to the high and continuously growing number of wrongful convictions in the country. In the research conducted by LEDAP recently, the statistics raised from reported cases of convictions and sentences to death in Nigeria between 2006 – 2011 shows that 48 out of 113 (more than 39%) death sentences appealed within the period were set aside by the apex courts.

 

LEDAP uses this medium to call on the Nigeria government to reconsider its stand on the use of capital punishment by abolishing the use of death penalty and replacing same with life imprisonment.

CHRISTOPHER TOBI OKOLIE’S STORY

 

Christopher Tobi Okolie, a former student of the Federal Technical College, Ilesha was arrested in 2000 when he was accused of committing the offence of murder while he was involved in an altercation with a few of his neighbours pertaining to a Discman player.. He was subsequently convicted and sentenced to death in March, 2006.

“Death row is a hard place; it’s the grace of God one needs to survive there”.

Following the appeal against his conviction and sentence, filed by LEDAP, a panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division on 7th February, 2011, quashed his conviction and ordered a retrial, but this was not enforced and LEDAP filed an application for a discharge before the Hon. Justice O. A. Taiwo, thus enabling the young man to regain his freedom after 14 years in prison. With tears of joy in his eyes, Okolie, who has a good command of English Language, attributed his being alive to the grace of God. His constant phrase was “Death row is a hard place; it’s the grace of God one needs to survive there”.

MONDAY ILADA PROSPER

 

The Court of Appeal, Benin Judicial Division, Edo State on the 9th day of July, 2014 granted Monday Ilada Prosper his freedom, following the Legal Defence and Assistance Project – LEDAP taking over his action.

Monday Ilada Prosper, who was a driver at the time of his conviction, worked with his master without pay for 3 months. One day, he stopped the car, poured sand on his master’s face and absconded with his bag of money. This led to his arrest few months later and was thereafter charged with armed robbery, convicted and sentenced to death in 2008.

Following the appeal against his conviction and sentence, filed by LEDAP, a panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal, Benin Division, frowning at the harsh Judgment of the lower court discharged and acquitted him on 9th July, 2014. Irrespective of the Judgment of the Court of Appeal, Monday Ilada Prosper finally worked out a freeman on the 16th February 2015 having spent additional 6 months in prison as a result of corruption in the system as officials kept demanding for money to process his release.

With tears of joy in his eyes, Monday Ilada, recounted his experience in prison and on death row and pleaded with the Nigeria government to put an end to Death Penalty for the sake of innocent souls.

According to his lawyer, Chino Obiagwu; “this is another opportunity to reiterate our calls for an in-depth re-evaluation and urgent overhauling of our Criminal Justice System, especially as it relates to the use of capital punishment. We cannot continue to be sentencing innocent persons to death, only for the appeal court to upturn the judgment after a decade or more when the appellant must have served unlawful sentence and deprivation of his personal liberty in the prison.

LEDAP uses this medium to call on the Nigeria government to reconsider its stand on the use of capital punishment by abolishing the use of death penalty and replacing same with life imprisonment.

WILLIAMS OWODO’S STORY

Image result for williams owodo ledap

Williams Owodo was arrested on the February 1, 1995 with 4 other persons on allegation of murder and was subsequently convicted and sentenced to death on 5th December, 2003 by the Lagos High Court. Williams, now 33, was 16 years old at the time the alleged offence was committed in 1995.

The case against Williams Owodo was that he was part of a group of young boys who fought and stabbed the deceased which resulted in the death of the deceased. The prosecution contended that Williams was among the 8 other boys who were playing cards in the neighborhood but spread dried cassava flour on the nearby street as bait to rob people.

They had common intention that anyone who stepped on the cassava would be challenged, providing them the opportunity to rob such a person of his or her property which included the deceased person. The defence of Williams that he was playing football with his friends when they saw a crowd watching some people fighting. He later left for his home and was on his way when a police van stopped beside him and he was pushed into the van and taken to Ajeromi Police Station and was then tortured into signing a false confession. Many other persons were also raided and arrested that evening and brought to the police station. Some of those arrested paid money to bail themselves out. He had no money with him to pay for his bail, and could not reach his parents. He was unable to afford a lawyer, and so at the trial, the judge sentenced him to die for his supposed crime. He spent 18 years in custody for a crime he did not commit.

“I was hopeless,” said Owodo. “At a point I almost committed suicide

In a well-considered judgment that resolved all the issues in favour of Williams, the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division unanimously allowed the appeal; discharged and acquitted Williams Owodo of his conviction and sentence to death after 17 years of the arrest and remand of Williams.

The court particularly held, amongst others, that there was no was eye witness that testified and linked the death of the deceased person to the act of the accused, Williams Owodo. The High Court failed to conduct a trial within trial when the accused person gave evidence that he was beaten with a rod and forced to sign the written statement that the lower court relied on to convict and sentence him to death.

More so, at the time of the incident, the accused person was underaged and ought to have been taken to Juvenile Court for trial. The High Court erred in law to have relied on the age of the accused person, Williams Owodo, as at the time of the trial instead of his age as at the time the incident occurred.

According to his lawyer, Chino Obiagwu; “again like we said earlier this year following the outcome of the appeal of Olatunji Olaide, this is a case that calls for an in-depth re-evaluation and urgent overhauling of our Criminal Justice System, especially as it relates to the use of capital punishment. We cannot continue to be sentencing innocent persons to death, only for the appeal court to upturn the judgment after a decade or more when the appellant must have served unlawful sentence and deprivation of his personal liberty in the prison. This is very pathetic in the sense that a juvenile like Williams in this case should not have been charged with a capital offence in the first instance. Well, it is good enough that Williams was able to write and make his WASSCE papers in prison while on death row and is currently studying Co-operative Management at the Kirikiri satellite campus of the National Open University.”

LEDAP uses this medium to call on the Nigeria government to reconsider its stand on the use of capital punishment by abolishing the use of death penalty and replacing same with life imprisonment.