The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice has awarded N20million in damages in favour of Abu Dennis Uluebeka believed to be the oldest death row inmate in Nigeria and another ex-inmate, Mary Bahago over rights violation.
The three member panel of the court held the applicants were subjected to torture while in custody, which it said violated Article 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and sections 17(2) and 36(6) of the Nigerian Constitution.
The justices however ruled that the applicants failed to prove the relief that their medical needs were neglected by the Federal Government.
90-year-old Uluebeka spent 17 years in a custodial centre in Lagos after he was convicted for murder in 2003.
He was released in 2019 by the Amnesty Committee on Prerogative of Mercy of the Federal Government on grounds of ill-heath.
Uluebeka then sued at the ECOWAS court, demanding N50million reparation over the long years of imprisonment under what he termed cruel, degrading and inhuman condition among others.
On her part, 50-year-old Bahago spent 20 years in Custodial Centre in Suleja, Niger following her conviction for murder, which resulted from a fight.
The Amnesty Committee commuted her death sentence to life imprisonment.
The applications were filed on their behalf by a group, the Centre for Peace and Conflict Management in Africa (CPCMA).
They claimed Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had during the National Economic Summit in February 2018 pronounced the need for the execution of death row inmates in April 2018 as a means of decongesting the prisons.
The applicants stated that the Vice President’s position was re-echoed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami in April 2018.
The applicants claimed that the comments put them in constant fear for their lives, adding that they received several threats of secret execution from the security agencies.
Lawyer to the Federal Government of Nigeria, Unyime Ebuk, urged the regional court to strike out the case for lack of coherence in the applicants’ reliefs, adding that their claims could not be substantiated.