But Amnesty International believes there are serious concerns about the fairness of Sharif’s trial and the framing of the charges against him based on WhatsApp messages.
“The imposition of the death penalty following an unfair trial violates the right to life.
“The authorities of Kano State must immediately quash the conviction and death sentence of Yahaya Sharif Aminu, who was sentenced to death by hanging on spurious charges of blasphemy by the Kano Upper Shari’a Court,” it said.
Sharif, a resident of Sharifai in Kano metropolis, was accused of committing the crime against the prophet of Islam in a song he circulated via WhatsApp in March 2020.
This sparked outrage on the part of some youths who staged a protest and burned the singer’s family home.
The protesters later led a procession to the command headquarters of Hisbah – a state government-owned security outfit that enforces the Shariah law in the highly conservative state.
Read the tweets by the human rights group below:
The authorities of Kano State must immediately quash the conviction and death sentence of Yahaya Sharif Aminu, who was sentenced to death by hanging on spurious charges of blasphemy by the Kano Upper Shari’a Court. #Nigeria
#Kano blasphemy sentence is a travesty of justice. There are serious concerns about the fairness of his trial; and the framing of the charges against him based on Whatsapp messages. The imposition of the death penalty following an unfair trial violates the right to life.
The Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has converted the death sentence given to four prisoners to life imprisonment.
The governor also approved the release of one person from the Correctional Centre.
Mr Obaseki gave the approval in the exercise of the powers conferred on him under section 212 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, on the recommendation of the Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy.
The four Prisoners whose sentences were transmuted from death row to life imprisonment are Ayo Olofin, Abiodun Uwagboe, Sanni Ladan and Joel Ighalo; while the released inmate is one Emejor Amos.
In June 2019, Governor Obaseki approved the release of eight prisoners who were on death row and transmuted the death penalty of nine others.
Those freed were “Abu Dennis Ulubeka (M) convicted and sentenced to death for the offence of Murder; Tirimisiyu Adebayo (M) convicted and sentenced to death for the offences of conspiracy and Armed Robbery; Tajudeen Fabiyi (M) convicted and sentenced to death for the offences of Conspiracy and Armed Robbery, and Olufemi Ajayi (M) convicted and sentenced to death for the offences of Conspiracy and Armed Robbery.”
Others were “Charles Omowunmi (M) found guilty for the offence of murder and was ordered to be detained in prison at the pleasure of the Governor; Kalu Ojeh (M) convicted and sentenced to 21 years imprisonment on each count, both sentences to run concurrently for the offences of Conspiracy and Armed Robbery; Mathew Idoko (M) convicted and sentenced to death for the offence of murder and Robinson James (M) convicted and sentenced to death for the offences of conspiracy and Armed Robbery.”
Exiled former Pakistani military leader Pervez Musharraf was sentenced to death Tuesday after being found guilty of treason, a verdict swiftly condemned by the armed forces which have ruled the country for almost half its 72-year history.
The court’s decision marks the first time a former leader of the armed forces has been convicted of treason and sentenced to death in Pakistan, where the military maintains strong influence and senior officers are often considered immune from prosecution.
Musharraf has been in self-imposed exile ever since a travel ban was lifted in 2016, allowing him to seek medical treatment abroad.
The 76-year-old has lately spent most of his time between Dubai and London.
Several Pakistani media sources reported the verdict and sentence handed down by a three-member special court, while a senior judicial official confirmed the rulings to AFP.
Pakistan’s military denounced the special court’s ruling, saying in a statement that the armed forces were in “pain and anguish” over the decision.
“An ex-Army Chief, Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee and President of Pakistan, who has served the country for over 40 years, fought wars for the defense of the country, can surely never be a traitor,” the military said in a statement.
It added that the legal process “seems to have been ignored”.
The trial began in 2013 and is one of several involving Musharraf. It centered on his decision to suspend the constitution and impose emergency rule in 2007, according to his lawyer Akhtar Shah.
The move sparked widespread protests against Musharraf, ultimately leading to his resignation in the face of impeachment proceedings.
Musharraf’s lawyer said the former general was currently ill and remained in Dubai. He said no decision had been made on whether to appeal.
The nation’s current top prosecutor, Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan, said the judgement was “against the constitution”.
“If the person who is accused is not getting justice this government will stand against that injustice,” he said.
The court ruling came more than a week after Musharraf dismissed the treason case against him in a video message showing the former general in a hospital bed appearing ill while complaining of dizziness and blackouts.
“I think this case is baseless. They are not listening to me and they are not listening to my lawyer… It is a big injustice,” Musharraf said.
Retired general Talat Masood, now a security analyst, called the court’s decision “extraordinary” and “bold”.
Musharraf was born in India’s capital Delhi in 1943 but moved with his family to Pakistan after partition.
He took power after ousting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a bloodless 1999 coup.
A cigar-smoking, whisky-drinking moderate, the general became a major US ally in the “war on terror” after the September 11 attacks on the United States.
He escaped at least three Al-Qaeda assassination attempts during his nine years in office.
His rule faced no serious challenges until he tried to sack the chief justice in March 2007, sparking nationwide protests and months of turmoil that led to the imposition of a state of emergency.
After the December 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, the national mood soured even further. He was left isolated by the crushing losses suffered by his allies in February 2008 elections.
Musharraf finally resigned in August 2008 in the face of impeachment proceedings by the new governing coalition and went into exile.
When Musharraf returned in 2013, aiming to contest elections, he was barred from taking part and from leaving the country. A barrage of legal cases mounted.
The treason case was first launched against Musharraf by his old foe Sharif in 2013. The case went on for years, repeatedly delayed, until Tuesday’s surprise announcement.
The treason ruling is the latest case to target Musharraf since he has been in exile.
In 2017, a Pakistani court pronounced him a fugitive in the murder trial of Bhutto — the first woman to be prime minister of a Muslim country.
The anti-terrorism court also branded Musharraf an absconder and ordered the confiscation of his property.
Musharraf is alleged to have been part of a broad conspiracy to have his rival Bhutto killed before elections. He has denied all charges.
Following the court’s decision Tuesday, Bhutto’s son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari tweeted: “Democracy is the best revenge”.
After more than three years of legal battle, the Kwara State High Court, has sentenced Ogundele David, to death by hanging over the killing of a staff of MTN Telecommunications, Abiola Tosin Ashinwo.
In a judgment given by the trial judge, Justice Adebayo Yusuf, Ogundele was convicted on two counts.
In the first count, he was convicted of committing an illegal act of stabbing Ashinwo with the intention of causing her death, thereby being guilty of culpable homicide which according to the judge, is punishable with death under Section 229 of the Penal Code Law.
He was also convicted for committing culpable homicide for causing the death of Ashinwo by stabbing her with a knife and thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 221 of the Penal Code Law.
The prosecutor, Abdulmumini Adebimpe Jimoh, had called four witnesses before the court; Inspector Yusuf Daudu, CPL Bunmi Adegboye, Abiola Ashinwo and ASP Gbadebo Adeyemi, as proof.
He also tendered some exhibits which included a Toyota Camry, a knife, a pair of rubber slippers, photographs of the deceased, a statement of the convict, among others.
Thereafter, the judge held that Jimoh was able to prove the case of culpable homicide against Ogundele.
Consequently, he ruled that for the first offence, he is to serve a 25-year jail term while he would be sentenced to death by hanging for the second charge.
Amnesty International says a total of 2,285 people are currently on death row and at least 600 people put to death between 2015 and 2016 in Nigeria.
The international rights group revealed this in its 2017 global review of the death penalty published on Thursday.
It decried that death sentences in the country have spiked massively over the past two years, with 171 and 527 death sentences recorded in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
Amnesty International said Nigeria imposed the highest number of death sentences in the sub-Saharan Africa region in 2017.
It, however, commended other countries in the region who made “great strides” in the global fight to abolish the death penalty, with a significant decrease in death sentences being imposed.
According to the report, Guinea became the 20th state in sub-Saharan Africa to abolish the death penalty for all crimes, while Kenya abolished the mandatory death penalty for murder. Burkina Faso and Chad also took steps to repeal this punishment with new or proposed laws.
“The progress in sub-Saharan Africa reinforced its position as a beacon of hope for abolition. The leadership of countries in this region gives fresh hope that the abolition of the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment is within reach. Unfortunately, some states in Nigeria continue to expand the scope of death sentences,” Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty said.
He noted that the number of people on death row in Nigeria is also the highest in the region, although no executions were carried out in 2017.
“With governments in the region continuing to take steps to reduce and repeal the death penalty well into 2018, the isolation of the world’s remaining executing countries – such as Nigeria – could not be starker.
“Now that 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa have abolished the death penalty for all crimes, it is high time that the rest of the world follows their lead and consigns this abhorrent punishment to the history books,” Shetty advised.
According to him, the organisation recorded a drop in the number of executing countries across Sub-Saharan Africa, from five in 2016 to two in 2017, with only South Sudan and Somalia known to have carried out executions.
The Secretary-General noted that while Botswana and Sudan reportedly resumed executions in 2018, such occurrence must not overshadow the positive steps being taken by other countries across the region.
He disclosed that The Gambia has also signed an international treaty committing the country not to carry out executions and moving to abolish the death penalty.
In furtherance of this, Shetty said The Gambian President, Adama Barrow, established an official moratorium (temporary ban) on executions in February 2018.
The US Supreme Court on Tuesday night stayed the execution of a convicted murderer-rapist after lawyers and advocates warned the punishment could subject him to intense suffering because of his rare illness.
Russell Bucklew had been scheduled to die by lethal injection in the state of Missouri.
“The United States Supreme Court has granted a stay of execution for Russell Bucklew, pending further review of his appeal,” the Missouri Department of Corrections said in a statement which gave no reason for the decision.
It was Bucklew’s second stay of execution in four years.
He has an uncommon vascular condition that leaves him with growths on his head and neck. This creates significant risk that subjecting him to lethal injection will result in torture, rights activists argue.
Defense lawyer Cheryl Pilate said his malformed veins could lead to an “execution atrocity” and there is “grave risk” of his meeting an excruciating end.
A tormented and painful death would violate the United States Constitution’s Eighth Amendment prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment.
Bucklew, 49, has been on death row for two decades for the 1996 killing of a love rival and raping a former girlfriend.
He escaped from prison shortly after his arrest by hiding in a trash can. During his two days of freedom, he attacked with a hammer the mother of his ex-girlfriend. She survived.
Bucklew was to be put to death in 2014 but received his first stay of execution from the Supreme Court, after a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma stirred fresh debate about capital punishment.
The American Civil Liberties Union said there is “substantial risk” that Bucklew would choke during a lethal injection because his airway is compromised by a vascular tumor.
This would cause him to suffocate and undergo excruciating pain, the group said. It also warned that the tumor could burst, causing heavy bleeding and leading to “torturous” punishment.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights called for Bucklew’s death sentence to be commuted.
A Chinese nanny with heavy gambling debts was sentenced to death Friday for setting a fire that killed her employer’s wife and children in a tragedy which grabbed national attention and raised questions over official handling of the case.
A court in the eastern city of Hangzhou found Mo Huanjing, a nanny for a family of five, guilty of arson in the fire that killed a mother and her three children on June 22 last year, and sentenced her to death.
The case went viral in China due to the tragic circumstances and reported delays in the firefighting response, with Friday’s court announcement among the top-trending items on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform, with tens of millions of “reads”.
The Weibo hashtag “Wife and kids in heaven June 22” by 37-year-old Lin Shengbin, who was away when the fire occurred, has generated nearly 1.3 billion “reads” since the tragedy first occurred.
Mo, 35, was allegedly an obsessive gambler who borrowed and also stole money from the family as her debts mounted.
The court said Mo admitted to starting a fire in the living room of the family’s 18th-floor high-rise apartment in Hangzhou, planning to put it out quickly to play the hero and use the resulting goodwill to seek more money from her employers.
But the fire rapidly raged out of control and Mo escaped, leaving behind Lin’s 34-year-old wife Zhu Xiaozhen and three children aged six, nine, and 11 years, who all died of asphyxiation.
Lin has gained 2.3 million Weibo followers since he opened an account to document his efforts to seek justice.
“The devil has finally received the punishment of the law, the death penalty,” Lin said in a post on Friday.
“I have suffered day and night for the past 200 days, and today finally received the verdict.”
Lin said he planned to pursue civil cases against other “powerful” parties who he blames for the deaths.
He did not offer specific details, but has previously blamed Greentown, the builder of the high-rise and a major listed property developer, saying poor safety features in the apartment complex contributed to a delayed fire-fighting response.
The fire department last year denied accusations that it was slow to respond, instead blaming low water pressure and a lack of required fire safety features in the building.
China regularly sees deadly fire disasters, often blamed on the lax enforcement or flouting of fire safety rules.
In the wake of clashes between rival cult groups at the Ekiti State University (EKSU) in Ado Ekiti, Governor Ayodele Fayose says his administration is set to sponsor a bill to the Ekiti State House Of Assembly to punish convicted cultist with a death penalty.
The governor, speaking on Tuesday in Ado Ekiti, the state capital said that anyone involved in the act of cultism should be ready to face the consequences which will be a death sentence.
“If you are involved in cultism, it is death, we will treat you like terrorists. Enough is enough. How can you kill somebody, you cut his hands and his head! If you are caught involved in cultism, we will give you death sentence.
“If you use your house to accommodate cult members, either as students or as a visitor, we will give you life imprisonment. If you rape women, it is life imprisonment. Enough is enough, I will not under my watch allow anybody to hold Ekiti state to ransom.”
Fayose also urged residents of the state to give government and police the relevant information to rid the state of cultism activities.
The Ogun State House of Assembly has passed a bill proposing 25 years imprisonment or death sentence for anyone found guilty of land grabbing.
The assembly in its deliberations on Tuesday also prescribed a death sentence if a life is lost during the “forceful takeover of land with the use of any fire arms, offensive weapon, obnoxious or chemical materials.”
The passage of the bill follows the presentation of the report of special joint committees on Lands and Housing as well as Justice, Ethics and Public Petitions.
The Deputy Speaker and sponsor of the bill, Honourable Olakunle Oluomo moved a motion for the adoption for the report of the committee. It motion was seconded by Honourable Adebiyi Adeleye and supported by the whole house.
The bill equally spelt out a N5m fine or 10 years imprisonment or both for anyone found guilty of contracting an agent for the purpose of forceful takeover of any land in the state.
Kidnappings, Abductions, Robberies
The new bill also spells out punishment for robbery.
According to it, ”any person who commits the offence of robbery shall upon trial and conviction under this law be liable to a sentence of imprisonment of a term not less than twenty-one years, while conviction for armed robbery attracts death sentence.
The bill which also provides that in case of kidnappings, abductions, violent rituals resulting in death or bodily harm, forcible detention and related offence “where the person kidnapped, restrained detained, kept, abducted or seized dies in the course, the offender shall be liable on conviction to such punishment as provided for the offence of murder under Section 319 (1) Criminal Code Law of Ogun State, 2006 or such other law for the time being in force.”
The bill added that where “the person does no die in the course, the offender shall be liable on conviction to punishment for life imprisonment with hard labour and without an option of fine”.
The Speaker of the House, Suraju Adekunbi ordered that a clean copy of the bill be sent to the State governor Ibikunle Amosun for his assent.
Indonesia executed four convicted drug traffickers, three of them Nigerians, in the early hours of Friday, leaving the fate of 10 others uncertain.
The Africans and an Indonesian man were shot by firing squad during a thunderstorm shortly after midnight on Nusakambangan Island in Central Java, as the government ignored international calls for clemency and pushed ahead with what it considers a war on drugs.
The attorney general said on Wednesday that 14 prisoners, including citizens of India, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe, would be executed this weekend.
An official said on Friday the planned executions would go ahead “in stages” but declined to give a timeframe.
Security was stepped up at the Indonesian embassy in Nigerian capital Abuja on Thursday as protesters gathered to urge Indonesia to halt the executions. Indian and Pakistani officials said they were making last-minute efforts to save their citizens.
“We considered several factors and decided that for now four death row inmates would be executed,” Noor Rachmad, an official at the attorney general’s office, told reporters shortly after Friday’s executions.
Just over a year ago, Indonesia executed 14 prisoners, mostly foreign drugs offenders, causing diplomatic outrage.
Rights activists and governments have again called on Indonesia to abolish the death penalty.
But that has gone unheeded by the government of President Joko Widodo, who has said drugs pose as serious a threat as terrorism in what is one of Southeast Asia’s biggest markets for narcotics.
The death penalty is widely accepted by the Indonesian public, but police on Thursday had to break up a protest outside the prison by members of a migrant workers group who called for mercy for an Indonesian woman who was scheduled to be executed.
The United Nations and European Union had urged the executions be halted.
“Such death sentences are unlawful and tantamount to an arbitrary execution as they are undertaken in contravention of Indonesia’s international human rights obligations,” the U.N. said in a statement on Thursday.
Amnesty International called the executions “a deplorable act that violates international and Indonesian law” and pleaded that the other death sentences not be carried out.
“The injustice already done cannot be reversed, but there is still hope that it won’t be compounded,” the rights group’s regional director, Rafendi Djamin, said.
Around 152 people remain on death row in the country, including convicted drug traffickers from the Philippines, France and Britain. Authorities plan to execute 16 prisoners this year and more than double that number in 2017.
Human Rights Group, Amnesty International has urged President Muhammadu Buhari and other global leaders to prevail on Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, to stop the planned execution of five Nigerians and nine others.
Representatives of the group staged a protest at the Indonesian Embassy in Abuja, where they presented a letter to the Indonesian government.
The interim Country Director of Amnesty International in Nigeria, Mr Makmid Kamara, said that the argument to go ahead with the execution lacks merit.
Mr Kamara explained that many of the prisoners were alleged for drug offences, which, in the group’s view, does not meet the most serious crimes threshold under international rights law to justify execution.
The exercise which is expected to be carried out this week will include four Indonesians, a Pakistani, an Indian, a Zimbabwean, a Senegalese and a South African.
The Indonesian Deputy Attorney General has confirmed that there’s no going back with his decision to execute 14 people on death row for drug crimes.
The prisoners have been notified of the plans for their executions, in accordance with Indonesian law, and could be put to death as early as Friday.
The 14 have been put in isolation and the executions are due to take place by Sunday at the latest.