Amnesty International on Friday called on Edo state government to halt the execution of two men on death row for murder.
The Edo state governor, Adams Oshiomhole, signed the execution warrants for the two convicts in Benin City prison about two weeks ago, the state justice commisioner, Osagie Obayuwana, confirmed to AFP on Friday.
“It is true that the governor has signed the execution warrants for the two prisoners. He looked at the circumstances surrounding the offences of murder and he approved the execution,” he said.
The prison authorities will determine when to carry out the executions, he said, adding that the “governor has done his bit.”
Obayuwana, a former human rights activist, said that prison officials in Benin City, capital of the state, reported that prisoners on death row in Oko prison in the city were becoming unmanageable.
He alleged that some of them were involved in a recent jailbreak. “The decision to sign a death warrant on these two prisoners shows a deep disrespect for the judicial process as the inmates are part of an ongoing appeal,” Lucy Freeman, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Africa said.
“The execution of a prisoner when their death sentence is still under challenge in the courts is a flagrant violation of human rights,” she said in a statement.
Obayuwana said that the appeals filed by the convicts came late. “Executing detainees as a method of controlling ‘unmanageable’ inmates is totally unacceptable – it is arbitrary and a violation of their right to life,” Freeman said.
The last known executions in Nigeria were carried out in 2006 when at least seven convicted men were hanged in three prisons, Amnesty said.