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ECOWAS Court Award Two Nigerians ₦20M For Maltreatment Suffered On Death Row

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ECOWAS Community Court of Justice has awarded  ₦10m each as compensation in favour of two Nigerians, Abu Dennis Uluebeka and Mary Bahago, who were subjected to inhuman treatment while on death row.

A panel of three judges led by Justice Dupe Atoki ordered the Nigerian government to pay Uluebeka and Bahago N10 million each for the inhuman and degrading treatment they suffered in Kirikiri Prison, Lagos, and Suleja Prison, Niger State, respectively.

Uluebeka and Bahago were applicants in the separate suits filed on their behalf by Lawyer Noah Ajare of the Incorporated Trustees of Centre for Peace and Conflict Management in Africa Foundation and Rethink Africa Foundation while the Federal Republic of Nigeria was the defendant.

Bahago’s suit was filed on Oct. 3, 2018 and Uluebeka’s case was filed on Sept. 21, 2018.

In suits numbers: ECW/CCJ/APP/45/18 and ECW/CCJ/APP/42/18 filed separately but later consolidated following the directive of the Court, Uluebeka and Bahago alleged the violation of their human rights, right to fair hearing, right to appeal, due process of law and effective remedy while under threat of secret execution by the government.

The 88-year-old Uluebeka and 48-year-old Bahago were said to have been convicted for murder and sentenced to death by hanging.

While Uluebeka had spent 15 years on death row, Bahago stayed in prison for 20 years while on death row.

However, Bahago’s sentence was commuted to life imprisonment from Oct. 2018 while Uluebeka was released from prison custody.

They had argued that while awaiting execution, they were detained in inhuman conditions and subjected to torture.

The plaintiffs also said that they were denied satisfactory legal representation during the trial and had exhausted all their chances and opportunity of appeal.

They told the court that the duo were recommended for amnesty by the Federal Board and Committee that visited both prisons recently due to their chronic medical condition and ill-health.

They said having been kept on death row for more than 15 years without access to adequate medical treatment and by virtue of their age and medical condition, they were entitled to immediate release from detention.

The applicants also urged the court to direct the defendant to pay a monetary compensation of  ₦50 million to the applicants for damages suffered as a result of the long years of been kept in prison under cruel, degrading and inhuman condition, among others.

But Counsel to the defendant, Unyime Ebuk, asked the court to discountenance and strike out the matter for lack of coherence in the reliefs sought by the applicants.

He argued that their claims could not be substantiated.

Reading the judgment on behalf of the panel, the Judge Rapporteur, Justice Januaria Costa, held that their rights were infringed upon for being subjected to torture and inhuman treatment.

In awarding the compensation, the court ruled that “the prolonged delay while awaiting execution in conditions of severe detention where they experienced constant anguish, fear, physical and mental suffering reached the level of severity that constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment prohibited by the African Charter.”

The court then awarded the sum of  ₦10 million each in favour of the applicants and ordered that the defendant should pay the cost of the suit.
It also held that the judgment be complied with within three months from the date of the judgment.

The court, however, could not find sufficient and convincing factual evidence to confirm the claim of the applicants that they were not receiving the needed medical care and treatment while in detention.

In his reaction, Counsel to the applicants, Ajare welcomed the court’s decision, upholding the violation of the rights of the plaintiffs.

“We commend the judgment of this progressive Court and call for the implementation of the decision by the Nigerian authorities.

“We strongly condemn any forms of torture and inhuman treating and call on the Nigerian government to put machinery in place for the eradicate of all forms of torture and human right abuses,” he said.

East Africa News

Three-Year-Drought Pushes 1.5 Million People Into Hunger In Southern Madagascar

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UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) says a three-year drought in southern Madagascar has pushed 1.5 million people – over half of the population – into crisis and in need of emergency food and nutrition assistance.

Those affected include 75,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women. Also, 100,000 children aged under 5 are in danger of acute malnutrition with about 19,000 appearing to be in a ‘severe’ situation.

The WFP said the number of people in need of assistance had tripled in the past few months.

In the worst-hit area of Amboasary, three-quarters of children have dropped out of school to help their parents look for food.

Some people are exchanging essential household items, such as cooking utensils, for food.

The WFP said about $35m is needed to avert catastrophe in the area in the coming months

WFP’s Aina Andrianalizaha, who is visiting affected areas, said people are digging into the sand to find water “but rarely find any”, adding that “they have to walk several kilometres from their villages or hamlets to fetch water”

She added: “They can no longer plant and have, as a result, come to offer to exchange their scarce cooking utensils for a piece of cassava.”

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Ethiopian Forces Capture Tigray’s Capital In Final Offensive

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Ethiopian forces have captured Mekelle, the Tigrayan capital.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced this in tweets on Saturday, as he said the “Tigrayan criminals” will now be hunted by the Federal Police.

Ahmed on Friday met African envoys in Addis Ababa and reiterated that civilians in the region will not be harmed in the final offensive.

“I am pleased to share that we have completed and ceased the military operations in the #Tigray region.

“Our focus now will be on rebuilding the region and providing humanitarian assistance while Federal Police apprehend the TPLF clique.”

He said the town is now under the control of National Defence Forces, as humanitarian assistance will be provided to inhabitants of the region.

Recall that Ethiopia earlier announced that a Tigrayan town, Wikro, 50km north of Mekelle has been captured.

Tigray officials are yet to react to the Prime Minister’s claims as the region has been cut off from internet and phone access.

Both forces have been at daggers drawn since the 4th of November when Ethiopia accused Tigrayan forces of attacking state properties.

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Gunmen Kill Police Officer, Kidnap Chinese In Nigeria’s Ekiti State

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Some unknown assailants have abducted a Chinese expatriate in Nigeria’s southwest Ekiti State.

The Police in the state confirmed the incident happened in the capital, Ado Ekiti, on Friday, adding that a police officer was killed by the gunmen.

The abductee was one of the engineers working with the Chinese company handling the new Ado-Iyin road.

The Command Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Sunday Abutu, who confirmed the incident to newsmen on telephone, said the incident occurred around 4:30 p.m. along the new Ado Ekiti-Iyin Ekiti road.

He said that the abducted Chinese was one of the Engineers handling the new road network project awarded by the present administration.

Abutu said that aside from the late police officer, one other person was also shot at the scene of the incident.

“It is confirmed that a kidnapping incident occurred today at about 4:30 p.m. along new Iyin-Ekiti road.

“During the incident, one civilian, an expatriate, was kidnapped, one shot, while one policeman was shot dead.

“Our operatives are already combing the bush for possible apprehension of the perpetrators,” he said.

Abutu said that the Commissioner of Police in Ekiti, Mr Babatunde Mobayo, urged the public to be calm in spite of the incident.

“He also enjoined them to avoid any form of apprehension as the Command would do all within its powers to ensure freedom for the kidnapped expatriate and bring the culprits to book,” he said.

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