By Simon Ebegbulem
BENIN CITY—THE Edo State Government yesterday described as untrue claim by the Legal Defence and Assistance Project, LEDAP, that there was a pending case before the Appeal Court in Lagos by the three death row inmates executed last week by prison officials in Benin City.
But LEDAP through Chino Obiagwu, its National Coordinator, insisted that the executed inmates’ appeal was pending before their unfortunate execution,
Reacting on the issue, Solicitor General of the state, Wole Iyamu, who also clarified that “it was not Governor Godwin Obaseki that signed their death warrant but the previous administration of governor Adams Oshiomhole after the Supreme Court affirmed their execution” said they were executed after exhausting all avenues for appeals.
According to him, “ first, I want to state that three of them Ogbomoro Omoregie, Apostle Igene and Mark Omosowhata, their death warrant was signed two months ago by the previous administration and not the administration of Obaseki. And let me state clearly that there was no pending Appeal because the Supreme Court had ruled on the matter and after looking at how they butchered innocent people to death affirmed that they should be executed. When the matter came to the then Governor Oshiomhole, among the three persons, two of them committed murder, the third committed armed robbery. In the cause of the robbery, he killed his victim. The governor then granted pardon to about five other persons who committed crime then because they did not kill anybody.
“But these three people killed and after a panel looked at the entire situation, they were not granted pardon because they killed innocent people who also have families. He exercised his prerogative based on the fact that those people killed other people in the process of committing their act. And let me also clarify that it is the prison that executes inmates not the governor. The governor only said he will not grant them pardon, those who did not kill were granted pardon.
“That information was wrong it was very unfair to the Edo State government. Those people who were killed what will happen to their families? The Supreme Court of Nigeria ordered them to be killed and not Edo state government. And it is unfortunate people are criticizing, but about the family of those they killed, the pains they left those families with, who will those families cry to after their relations were killed by wicked murderers” he declared.
Meanwhile, LEDAP through Chino Obiagwu, its National Coordinator, insisted that the executed inmates’ appeal was pending before their unfortunate execution,
According to the group: “The appeal pending in this matter is not appeal against the convictions and sentences of the prisoners because they had no right of appeal, having been convicted and sentenced by the military tribunals under the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Decree as amended.”
The case pending in court is titled Godwin Pius & 820 Others v Governor of Abia State & 36 Others pending at the Court of Appeal Lagos. In the suit, all the death row prisoners including those executed on December 23 2016 filed a suit for declaration that the sentences of the prisoners under mandatory death penalty provisions were unconstitutional and an order stopping the execution of any of the death row prisoners. The suit is against all the State Governors including Edo state Government.
Upon preliminary objections filed by the state governments, the Federal high court, where the case was filed, struck out the suit and the prisoners appealed against the order to the Court of Appeal, which is still pending.
Secondly, LEDAP filed a suit at the Court of Appeal kaduna division seeking declaration that prisoners sentenced by military tribunals under the Robbery and Firearms ( Special Provisions) Decree who had no right of appeal under the Act, now have constitutional right of appeal against their convictions and sentences to the Court of Appeal. The case is Thankgod Eboh v Attorney-General of the Federation and is still pending at the Court of Appeal Kaduna.
In all these cases, the Edo state government was served with the processes and these facts were drawn to the attention of the governor in a petition submitted to the Governor by LEDAP on December 22 2016. On the second issue that it was the ex governor that signed the warrants, we state that the government is a continuum and the act of previous government binds this government.