54 soldiers on death row: United Nations to intervene

LAGOS — The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Arbitrary or Summary Executions, Mr. Christof Heyns, has said that “appropriate actions, including communication to the government of President Goodluck Jonathan is being considered regarding the imminent execution of 54 soldiers in Nigeria.”

Soldiers tasked with fighting Boko Haram militants arrive to face trials for mutiny in Abuja on October 2, 2014. Nearly 100 soldiers tasked with fighting Boko Haram militants in Nigeria's far northeast appeared at a military court martial on Thursday, facing a range of charges including mutiny. The hearing comes just weeks after a tribunal sentenced 12 soldiers to death following their conviction for shooting at their commanding officer in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, in May. AFP PHOTO

This followed a petition to Heyns by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, in December 2014 in which the group asked five UN human rights independent experts to individually and jointly use their “good offices and positions to urgently request the Nigerian government and its military authorities not to carry out the mass death sentences imposed on 54 Nigerian soldiers for what the government claimed was disobeying a direct order from their commanding officer.”

The development was disclosed by SERAP’s Executive Director, Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni, in a statement, yesterday.

He said: “SERAP has been in discussion with Johel Dominique at the Office of the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Arbitrary or Summary Executions both on the telephone and via email. Johel Dominique has confirmed that the Special Rapporteur is considering appropriate action to avert the imminent execution of 54 soldiers on death row in the country.

“We have also confirmed to the Special Rapporteur that SERAP has the consent of Mr Femi Falana, SAN, the legal counsel to the 54 soldiers to file the petition.

“SERAP welcomes the decision by Mr. Christof Heyns to intervene in the matter. Given his longstanding human rights commitment and achievements, we have absolutely no doubt that Mr Heyns will work assiduously to ensure that justice is done in this matter and we wish him well as he strives to do that.”

SERAP had in a petition dated December 23, 2014 and addressed to five special rapporteurs stated: “It is not right or fair to try everyone in mass proceedings, and that such unfair trial should not send someone to the gallows.”

– See more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2015/01/54-soldiers-death-row-un-intervene-avert-execution/#sthash.qqMkkrWJ.dpuf

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