© 2018 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
More Than 61 Executions Recorded In Africa In 2014
There were over 61 executions carried out through the death penalty in four African countries in 2014, Amnesty International said in a report recently released on 2014 death penalty and executions in the world.
The global human rights campaigner, which totally condemns death penalty, said in the same year over 1, 497 persons were sentenced to death on the continent.
In Sudan, more than 23 people were executed, 15 in Egypt while Somalia and Equatorial Guinea had 14 and nine cases respectively.
Although there was no execution in Nigeria, the country witnessed the highest number of death penalty sentences, 659, the highest in the world.
Egypt, with more than 509 cases of death penalties, came second while Algeria, Botswana, the two Congo countries, Ghana, South Sudan, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Tunisia, Libya, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Uganda, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, Morocco, Mauritania, Zimbabwe and The Gambia all also handed out death penalties in 2014.
The death sentences handed out to 70 soldiers by military courts for mutiny were partly responsible for the very large number of sentences recorded in Nigeria in the 2014.
However, in addition to the zero execution witnessed in Nigeria, there were other remarkable achievements recorded.
In the year under review, 49 death sentences were commuted, 69 death row inmates pardoned while there were 32 exonerations.
A particular case recorded by Amnesty International in Nigeria was the pardon granted to ThankGod Ebhos, who escaped death by a whisker.
Ebhos, accused of a 1988 armed robbery, was sentenced to death by firing squad in 1995 in Kaduna and remanded in Benin Prison.
“On 24 June 2013 ThankGod Ebhos was taken to the gallows in Benin Prison with four other men. The men were hanged in his presence but he escaped execution because at the last moment the prison authorities realized that his death sentence required a firing squad,” the Amnesty report said.
“In January 2014 the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice granted an injunction restraining the government from executing ThankGod Ebhos. On 10 June the Court delivered a final judgment ordering that ThankGod Ebhos’ name be removed from the death row list.”
Four months later, Kaduna State Governor, Ramalan Yero, as part of Independence Day celebration, signed a release order for Ebhos through the prerogative of mercy, as allowed by the constitution.
African countries, however, are increasingly moving away from the death penalty, with some adopting legislations and ratifying international resolutions in that regard.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, there was a 28 per cent reduction in executions – 46 in three countries in 2014 as against 64 in five countries in 2013. Equatorial Guinea, Somalia and Sudan were the only countries in this region that carried out executions.
Madagascar adopted a bill in December, 2014 to end the death penalty and Gabon joined the Second Optional Protocol to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, with the aim of putting a stop on the death penalty.
While Cameroon and Sierra Leone signalled their intentions to do away with the death penalty, Equatorial Guinea and Eritrea have also voted in favour of the UN General Assembly resolution on a suspension on the use of the death penalty.
Nigeria, which Amnesty says as at December 31 2014 had a figure of death row inmates likely higher than 1, 484, on the other hand decided to reject the recommendations of the UN Universal Periodic Review, UN-UPR, which is the tool for assessing and improving human rights issues of each of the 193 member states of the United Nations.