Daily Trust (Abuja)

17 November 2012

Nigeria: Envoys Seeks Relief for Nigerian On Death Row in Ghana

Accra — The Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana Ambassador Ademola Seyi Onafowokan has asked the government of the West African country for the prerogative of mercy regarding a Nigerian on the death row in the country.

The Nigerian, Yakubu Bello, who hails from Niger State, was convicted on November 2nd, 2010 for murder by the Tamale High Court in the Northern Regional headquarters.

The convict is yet to appeal the decision of the lower court. But the High Commissioner is asking that the death penalty be commuted to prison term.

Already, Onafowokan has been directed to make a representation to the President, because only the Head of State is empowered by the constitution to grant the prerogative of mercy.

Also, the envoy is seeking the review of the jail term awarded to several Nigerian prisoners in the country, as he has discovered that some of the sentences were weightier than the punishment prescribed for the offences committed.

Ambassador Onafowokan, who presented the matter before the Chief Justice of Ghana, Theodora Wood on the 7th of November, is calling for judicial cooperation and mutual legal assistance between the two countries in order to curtail cross border crimes in the sub-region.

According to the to the proposal presented by the High Commissioner, legal cooperation between Ghana and Nigeria would facilitate extradition and exchange of criminals, so that such persons could be sent home to serve their jail terms.

The envoy toured some of the prisons in the country, notably the Nsawam Medium Security Prison, which has the highest number of Nigerians.

When he visited Nsawam, he was said to have been besieged by Nigerian inmates, who complained of receiving excessive jail terms not commensurate with the offences they were convicted for.

Onafowokan in his parley with the Chief Justice appealed to her to intervene so as to curb the trend, where significant numbers of Nigerians were jailed for ten to twenty-five years for misdemeanor that could ordinarily be punished by fines.

The Chief Justice however at the meeting had insisted that she was not in the position to intervene, because the exercise of discretion resided in the trial judge.

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