Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has asked Governor
Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State to commute the death penalty passed on
death row inmates in the state to life imprisonment instead of executing
Falana argued in his
letter dated April 19, 2017, and addressed to Governor Ambode that the
planned execution of death row inmates in the state would violate a
subsisting judgment delivered in 2012 by the High Court of Lagos State
which ruled that it was illegal and unconstitutional to execute the
He reminded the governor that the judgment of
the court of the state had held that to hang or subject the death row
inmates to firing squad would lead to the violation of their fundamental
right to freedom from torture guaranteed by the Constitution.
The judgment was said to have been delivered by Justice Mufutau Olokooba of the Lagos State High Court on June 29, 2012.
The Lagos lawyer advised the state government to explore the only
available option of commuting the death penalty passed on the inmates to
Falana stated, “On the basis of the valid and
subsisting judgment of the Lagos High Court on the illegality of the
execution of the death penalty in Lagos State we urge Your Excellency
not to sign a death warrant authorising the killing of any condemned
prisoner either by hanging, firing squad or any other means whatsoever.
“In the circumstance, Your Excellency may wish to commute the death
sentences of all condemned prisoners in Lagos State to life imprisonment
The Attorney-General of the state, Mr. Adeniji
Kazeem, was said to have stated at a press conference on Tuesday that
unlike previous administrations, Governor Ambode would sign the
necessary documents to execute those on death row in the state.
Kazeem reportedly said the development was at the instruction of
Governor Ambode and that the state had begun reviewing the matter after
prison officials complained of the highhandedness of some death row
inmates who felt that they had certain rights which excluded them from
But Falana stated that the planned execution would negate the subsisting the court judgment.
Falana stated, “Although many persons have been convicted for armed
robbery and murder and sentenced to death by the Lagos State High Court
since 1999 your predecessors did not sign death warrants for the
execution of any person on death row.
“Accordingly, all the convicts on death row have had the death sentences imposed on them commuted to life imprisonment.
“It is pertinent to draw the attention of Your Excellency to the case
of Ajulu & Ors. V. Attorney-General of Lagos State (unreported) Suit
No: ID/76M/2008 of 29th June 2012 wherein the Lagos State High Court
held that while a person who commits murder may be sentenced to death it
is illegal and unconstitutional to execute such death sentence by
hanging or firing squad as it will lead to the violation of his
fundamental right to freedom from torture guaranteed by the
Constitution. According to the learned trial judge, Olokooba J:
“…death by hanging and firing squad amounts to a violation of the
condemned’s right to dignity of the human person and amount to inhuman
and degrading treatment is consequently unconstitutional being violative
of section 34(1)(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria, 1999. Section 367 of the Criminal Procedure Law of Lagos State
and any other Law which provides for hanging and condemned by the neck
till he be dead are accordingly declared unconstitutional. Section 1(3)
of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act in so far as it
seeks to be implemented by the Respondent it is also declared
unconstitutional and void.”