They were the words I’d longed for. “The process of releasing Moses is on course” declared Nigerian Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan last year. It was amazing to hear – I’d spent 15 months working on the case of this 23-year old man, who was tortured as a child and sentenced to death. Last year, Amnesty activists around the world joined me and together we had sent over 500,000 messages to the Governor demanding justice. And he had heard us.
But today, Moses remains in his cell.
His lawyer had filed an appeal and Governor Uduaghan claims that “the only way we can move further is for that appeal to be removed.” This doesn’t hold: in 2010 the Governor used his power to release another man who was appealing his sentence.
No man who is sentenced to death will [retract] his appeal. If the Governor really wants to release me he can do it with or without the appeal.Moses Akatugba
When I spoke to Moses recently, he told me how feels about dropping his appeal. “When the Governor made that speech I didn’t like the idea. No man who is sentenced to death will [retract] his appeal. If the Governor really wants to release me he can do it with or without the appeal.”
I know that Governor Uduaghan has ignored opportunities to meet with Moses’ lawyer since his speech, and I’ve been praying that God touches his heart. “I ask him to have mercy on me and heed the people around the world protesting for me”, Moses told me.
Moses is well aware of what Amnesty activists are doing for him. When I spoke to him, he described how it feels. “It gives me great joy to know that I have the support of so many people from different countries around the world. While before I felt all hope was gone, the story changed when Amnesty International came in. What I saw overwhelmed me: the cards and messages I received are so interesting. I regained hope and this hope now keeps me moving. When I leave prison, the first thing I plan to do is to go back to school and study.
The story changed when Amnesty came in. I regained hope and this hope now keeps me moving. When I leave prison, the first thing I plan to do is to go back to school and study.Moses Akatugba
Life in prison has not been easy. I spend most of my time reading novels and attend the prison school. I also teach in the catechism class – I am Catholic. But prison is a very bad place, a place you can never find comfort.”
With my organization, the Human Rights Social Development and Environmental Foundation, I’ve worked on many other cases involving torture in Nigeria. And my experience tells me: torture does not help matters. It can make a person admit things he or she doesn’t know about. I pray that the government does something about it. Torture must be stopped.
Five months ago, Governor Uduaghan pledged to help Moses. But Moses still needs our help today. Join our call by tweeting Governor Uduaghan and ask to meet with Moses’ lawyer. #StopTorture