1 December 2012

Nigeria: Suspect Freed After 17 Years On Death Row

The Court of Appeal yesterday discharged and acquitted Williams Owodo after 17 years on death row over alleged murder.

Owodo was arrested on February 1, 1995 with four other persons and subsequently sentenced to death on December 5, 2003 by the Lagos High Court. The suspect, now 33, was 16 years old at the time.

He was freed following the appeal filed by the Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) on his behalf.

The case against Owodo was that he was part of a group of young boys who fought and stabbed a man which resulted in the death of the deceased.

In its judgment that resolved all the issues in favour of Owodo, the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division unanimously held, among others, that there was no eye witness who testified and linked the death of the deceased person to the act of the accused Owodo.

The High Court failed to conduct a trial within trial when the accused person gave evidence that he was beaten with a rod and forced to sign the written statement that the lower court relied on to convict and sentence him to death.

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