By Abdulwahab Abdulah & Richard Eromosele
FIVE condemned inmates awaiting the hangman for over 10 years at the Kirikiri Maximum Prison, Lagos, will soon know their fate as a Federal High Court in Lagos is set to give judgement in their case.
The five men â€” Zuberu Abduraman, Taofiki Ojewale, Morufu Yussuff, Lukman Ajimola and Asimiyu Babatunde â€” brought the suit to enforce their fundamental human rights.
After the adoption of the written addresses filed by parties in the suit, the trial judge, Justice A. Ajakaye, said a date for the judgment in the case of fundamental rights action, instituted by Falana & Falanaâ€™s Chambers on behalf of the convicts will be communicated latter.
Majority of the convicts were asking the court to either set them free or order the authority to carry out their sentence rather than keeping them waiting endlessly.
They are challenging their continued detention without execution, saying it is inimical to their fundamental human right to the dignity of human person.
Mrs. Funmi Falana, who appeared in court for the convicts, adopted her written address and reply on points of law to the counter-affidavit filed by the Attorney-General of Oyo, Ekiti, Osun and Ogun respectively.
The Attorney-General of Ogun State, Mr. Akin Osinbajo, was in court while the Attorney-General of Ekiti State was represented by Mrs. Bola Wale-Awe and Mr. J. A. Ayanyemi represented the Attorney-General of Osun State.
In her arguments, Mrs. Falana canvassed that the applicantsâ€™ case was not premised on the discretion of the Governor under Section 212 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,1999. Rather, on the provisions of Section 34 of the 1999 Constitution which stipulate the rights of every Nigerian to dignity of human person.
She argued that even though the Constitution did not prescribe a time limit but 10 years on death row could definitely not be a reasonable time under the Constitution.
The applicants are seeking a declaration that keeping them on death row in the prison for 10 years is illegal and unconstitutional as it violates their fundamental human rights to dignity of human person guaranteed by Section 34 of the 1999 Constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rightsâ€™.
Also, they are seeking an order that the death sentence passed on them can no longer be carried out by the Respondents in any manner whatsoever and also for an order commuting the death sentence to a term of imprisonment.
In a 14- paragraph facts in support of the suit, the applicants claimed since their sentence they had been kept on death row for the past 10 years without any lawful justification and no reason given for the action.
They averred that they had suffered mental torture and psychological trauma contrary to the judgment of the court and that the situation had had adverse effect on their mental stability.