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ECOWAS Court adjourns death row case against FG

The Community Court of Justice (ECOWAS Court) on Wednesday adjourned till March 14 a case filed by Nnenna Obi, a prisoner on death row in Enugu, against the Federal Government.

Obi had been on death row since 2005.

The case, which was brought before the court in August 2015, was also filed on behalf of other death row prisoners, and challenged the provisions for the death penalty in Nigeria.

Justice Chijioke Nwoke, who presided over the case, recalled that the case was fixed for hearing on January 19, 2015 but adjourned till February 17.

Nwoke emphasised that the adjourned date would be the final opportunity to hear the application of the defendants.

“The matter came up again January 19, 2016; the court adjourned for today and today, the case is reluctantly adjourned to March 14 for definite hearing.

“We will give them one last opportunity to appear before the court and if they are not here by the adjourned date, we will hear their application and adjourn,” he said.

Obi in the suit stated that her conviction for murder by the High Court of Anambra allegedly violated her fundamental rights to life and dignity.

She said that the violations were against the constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The plaintiff in the application asked the court to declare that the provision of the death penalty in Nigeria was inconsistent with the provisions of the 1993 ECOWAS Revised Treaty.

She urged the court to declare that the death penalty was inconsistent with the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The plaintiff also urged the court to declare that the death penalty was inconsistent with other laws and treaty relating to the right to freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

She asked the court to declare that the death sentence for anyone convicted of murder or armed robbery under the constitution and the criminal code were violations of the rights of inmates as ECOWAS citizens.

The application also sought an order to direct the government to reconsider her sentence and those of other death row inmates.

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