Death penalty: ECOWAS Court has restrained FG from executing condemned persons-Adoke



adoke 750The ECOWAS Court has restrained Nigeria from carrying out further execution of condemned persons.This was disclosed by Mr Mohammed Bello Adoke,minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation on Thursday. He said this during a visit of the United Nations High Commission For Human Rights, Madam Navi Pillay to the Federal Ministy Of Justice.
“I must however observe that the ECOWAS Court of Justice has recently granted an Injunction restraining the Nigerian Government from carrying out the execution of condemned persons and directing the Government to continue to abide by its commitment to the Moratorium against the death penalty. We shall respect this order by the Court, even as we continue with our national dialogue on the abolition or retention of the penalty.

The minister also spoke on the controversial same –sex issue . “I wish to re-emphasise that our laws do not criminalise individual sexual orientation. The focus of the Act is therefore discouragement of same-sex marriage which is a reflection of the overwhelming beliefs and cultural values of the Nigerian people as demonstrated by a 2013 Opinion Poll which showed that 92% of Nigerians reject same-sex marriage.
Adoke also addressed the on-going fight against terrorism .He said “While the war on terror currently being waged by our security agencies is undoubtedly a difficult and challenging one in view of the guerrilla tactics adopted by the insurgents, our forces have been under strict instructions to ensure that the war is waged with due regard for the human rights of residents of the affected areas, in line with our international and domestic obligations. As a Government, we are however aware that despite our best efforts, there have been some allegations of excesses by some security operatives engaged in the operations. As earlier indicated, we shall continue to deal with all reported cases strictly in accordance with our laws and the commitment of the present administration to the Rule of Law.”

Read the full text of the minister’s statement below:

STATEMENT OF THE HAGF ON HUMAN RIGHTS MADE AT THE OCCASION OF THE VISIT OF THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS MADAM NAVI PILLAY AT THE FEDERAL MINISTY OF JUSTICE, 13 MARCH, 2014

I have the pleasure to welcome you and your entourage to Nigeria. Thank you for honouring my invitation. The timing of your visit within six months of the second cycle Universal Periodic Review of Nigeria is auspicious and I believe it will create a context for the engagement of all parties locally and internationally to support the implementation of the accepted obligations of Nigeria.
It is on record that this is the first visit by a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights since the Office was created 20 years ago. This is a demonstration of the goodwill and high regard President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration has for the protection and promotion of human rights of the citizenry irrespective of race, sex, tribe and religion. It is my expectation that your discussions with various stakeholders since your arrival in the country would have revealed the strides we have made in the promotion and protection of human rights as well as the challenges faced in the implementation of the human rights regime in Nigeria.
Nigeria is committed to constitutionalism, respect for rule of law and observance of human rights. We are resolved to widen the profile and understanding of human rights in general throughout the length and breadth of the country.
May I use this opportunity to give a brief overview of some of the salient issues with which you might have been confronted in the course of your engagement with Stakeholders in the country.
Unlawful Detention, Extra-Judicial Killing and Security situation in the Country

Unlawful Detention:
Nigerian Laws are adequate to ensure that no person is unlawfully detained. Persons accused of any allegation are promptly investigated and released immediately if there is no valid ground to detain them further.
Extra-Judicial Killings
The Nigerian Constitution does not permit extra-judicial killings and has zero tolerance for any form of cruelty or inhuman treatment. While there have reports of extra-judicial killings, let me assure you that security officers that have been found culpable irrespective of their position are made to face the full weight of the law.
Security situation in the Country
To address the present security challenges in the country, government has set up many committees, the reports of which are being considered and implemented.
The Federal government has also adopted other constitutional measures which include the declaration of a State of Emergency over Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States.
While the war on terror currently being waged by our security agencies is undoubtedly a difficult and challenging one in view of the guerrilla tactics adopted by the insurgents, our forces have been under strict instructions to ensure that the war is waged with due regard for the human rights of residents of the affected areas, in line with our international and domestic obligations. As a Government, we are however aware that despite our best efforts, there have been some allegations of excesses by some security operatives engaged in the operations. As earlier indicated, we shall continue to deal with all reported cases strictly in accordance with our laws and the commitment of the present administration to the Rule of Law.
Religious and ethnic related political unrest
Nigeria is a multi-religious country and Nigerians of various faiths have generally co-habited over the decades in a harmonious and peaceful manner. Freedom of religion and conscience has always been guaranteed by the various Constitutions enacted in our political history. In the history of our nation, we have however had to deal on some occasions with religious conflicts in different parts of the country Among other initiatives aimed at building trust, mutual respect and religious tolerance, the government has established a Council for Inter-Religious Affairs to advise the Federal Government on the issue of religious understanding and dispute resolution.
In a similar vein, Nigeria has, in her political history, experienced situations of political unrest which, in some cases, are traceable to ethnic differences. Given the tremendous strides achieved in recent times through greater national dialogue and discourse as well as the entrenchment of a more transparent electoral system, we are confident that such situations, which were usually triggered as aftermaths of elections, will become issues of the past in Nigeria.

Death Penalty & Same Sex Law
Death Penalty
By the political structure of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Death Penalty is within the Jurisdiction of the various State Governments. However, Section 33 (1) of the Constitution provides that every person has a right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life save in the execution of a sentence of a court in criminal matters. Both the Criminal and Penal Codes of the various States provide death sentence for any person who commits murder or culpable homicide and therefore, death penalty is a valid part of Nigerian Law.
As the leader of government delegation to the Human Rights Council review of Nigeria under the Universal Periodic review mechanism in October last year, I observed that most of the Council Members expressed concerns on the death penalty in Nigeria and also the passage of the Same Sex Prohibition Law which has since been assented to by the President.
Just as I remarked during the review, the issue of death penalty is sensitive in Nigeria, especially taking into account the federal nature of the country. Government will take a position as to whether to remove it or not from our statute books after due consultations with the broad spectrum of Nigerian populace.
I must however observe that the ECOWAS Court of Justice has recently granted an Injunction restraining the Nigerian Government from carrying out the execution of condemned persons and directing the Government to continue to abide by its commitment to the Moratorium against the death penalty. We shall respect this order by the Court, even as we continue with our national dialogue on the abolition or retention of the penalty.
Anti-Same Sex Marriage Act
I wish to re-emphasise that our laws do not criminalise individual sexual orientation. The focus of the Act is therefore discouragement of same-sex marriage which is a reflection of the overwhelming beliefs and cultural values of the Nigerian people as demonstrated by a 2013 Opinion Poll which showed that 92% of Nigerians reject same-sex marriage.
Conclusion:
I wish to seize this opportunity to thank you for the deployment of a Human Rights Advisor to the UN Country Team and who helped in the preparation for the UPR review, in revitalising the Inter Ministerial Committee on Treaty Reporting as well as facilitating the assignment of the National Committee Against Torture. I look forward to the technical support of your Office in implementing the agreed work plan of both bodies.
As you look forward to your retirement in August, please accept the congratulations of the Nigerian Government on a successful tenure and the various wonderful milestones recorded in the service to humanity in the course of your tenure.
I thank you once again for your visit. I hope your mission was satisfactory. We look forward to welcoming you to Nigeria once again in a less formal outing.

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