Â By Tony Edike
ENUGUâ€” TROPICAL Watch, aÂ Civil Society Organization based in Enugu, has instituted aÂ fundamental rights enforcement proceedings at the Federal High Court, Enugu, on behalf of three condemned prisoners seeking an order stopping their execution until the appeal instituted on the issue was determined.
Defendants in the suitÂ filed 8 July 2010, areÂ the Attorney General of the Federation, the Attorney General of Enugu State and the Attorney General of Anambra State, while TropicalÂ Watch, Civil Liberties Organisation and the three convicts, namely Paul Ekezie, Matthew Nwalu and Chijioke Ugwu are applicants.
Paul Ekezie, incarcerated since 1990 and currently at Benin Prisons, was sentenced to death in 1994 while Mathew Nwalu, also a condemned prisoner, had been incarcerated since 1996 but was only sentenced to death in 2001 and is, at present, detained at Enugu Prisons. The third, Chijioke Ugwu ,incarcerated since 2002, was only sentenced to death in 2008 and is currently detained at Enugu Prisons.
The applicants, among other reliefs, asked the Federal High Court, presided over by Justice R.A. Mohammed, to declare that â€œthe respondents cannot unlawfully execute the 3rd, 4th & 5th Applicants who are prisoners on death row, while their respective appeals are pending in the Court of Appeal.”
They also sought a declaration that the planned execution of the three condemned prisoners by the respective states concerned without giving them the opportunity to exhaust their rights of appeal, â€œconstitutes a flagrant violation of the applicantsâ€™ fundamental rights to fair hearing, guaranteed under Section 36 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and Article 7, of the African Charter on Human & Peoples Rights, (Ratification and Enforcement Act) Cap A9,
Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and is therefore illegal, unconstitutional, null and void.”
They further sought an order of injunction restraining the respondents, whether by themselves, their agents, privies or otherwise, howsoever, from carrying out the execution of the applicants until they have exhausted their rights of appeal.