EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AFR 44/10/95
UA 179/95 Executions/Fear of further Executions 24 July 1995
NIGERIA 43 prisoners convicted of armed robbery (names not known)
On 22 July 1995, 43 prisoners were executed by firing squad before a crowd of
1,000 in Lagos, Nigeria. They had been convicted of armed robbery by Robbery
and Firearms Tribunals, special courts outside the normal judicial system which
cannot guarantee fair trials and which allow no right of appeal to a higher,
independent jurisdiction. Another 10 prisoners were granted a stay of execution;
it is not clear whether their sentences have been commuted.
Three doctors reportedly certified that all the prisoners were dead following
the executions, which took place over a two-and-a-half hour period at Kirikiri
Maximum Security Prison execution ground, Lagos. The government is reported to
have said the executions were intended to crack down on an upsurge in violent
Amnesty International is concerned that the military government, which seized
power in November 1993, has restored mass executions by firing squad in public.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty without reservation and believes
it to be cruel, inhuman and degrading. Moreover, it believes that public
executions are not only a further degradation of the prisoner but they can
brutalize those that watch, and that public executions may perpetrate the
dangerous idea that violent retribution is the best way to prevent wrong-doing.
In 1994, over 100 people were publicly executed in Nigeria; most convicted by
Robbery and Firearms Tribunals. Between February and June, 30 prisoners convicted
of armed robbery were publicly executed in Akwa Ibom State, southeast Nigeria,
some within days of being sentenced. On 24 May, four prisoners - including a
woman, Elizabeth Oleru - were executed before large crowds at a race course in
Kano, northern Nigeria, and on 2 August 1994, 38 prisoners were executed in Enugu,
southeast Nigeria before a crowd of 20,000. One of them, 24-year old Simeon
Agbo, survived the execution and rose to his feet an hour later, bleeding from
wounds to his stomach and shoulders, to protest his innocence and plead for water.
These executions have taken place while international opinion is focused on
whether the Nigerian authorities will execute political prisoners after a secret
treason trial before a military tribunal which ended on 14 July 1995 (see UA
64/95). Amnesty International considers the trial to have been grossly unfair.
Conflicting reports from unofficial sources suggest that at least 12 and as
many as 15 prisoners may have been sentenced to death. In 1990 a total of 69
officers were executed after similar treason trials.