Three death row inmates were secretly executed by hanging in Nigeria’s Edo State, breaching a seven-year moratorium on the death penalty in the Western Africa nation, human rights groups said.
Local rights watchdogs and lawyers say the execution were “unlawful because there were outstanding appeals.” The deaths would give rise to the already heated debate about the use of the death penalty in Nigeria.
Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki was warned by Nigeria’s Legal Defense and Assistance Project that the inmates had outstanding appeals.
The inmates were sentenced in the 1990s by a military tribunal after they were found guilty of armed robbery. Rights lawyers say detainees were tortured to confess and had no right to appeal at the time.
The inmates were hoping to be released after serving 19 to 25 years in prison – Mark Omosowhota for 19 years, Apostle Igene for 21 years and Ogbomoro Omoregie for 25 years.
Armed robbery is Nigeria carries a mandatory death penalty.
The three inmates were executed in Benin City, in southern Edo State. Edo State breached Nigeria’s 2009 moratorium on enforcing the death penalty in 2013 when it executed 4 inmates causing a public outcry that stopped further execution by hanging.
More than 50 people in Edo State prisons are on death row and Nigeria has more than 1000 people in federal prison on death row as well.