The United Nations has decided to wade in and take necessary action as regards the death sentence handed down to 54 Nigerian soldiers on Wednesday, December 17, 2014.
The information was conveyed in a letter to the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) by the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Christof Heyns. Parts of the letter stated that “Appropriate action, including communication to the government of President Goodluck Jonathan, is being considered regarding the imminent execution of 54 soldiers in Nigeria.”
SERAP had in a petition dated Tuesday, December 23, 2014, addressed the group of five UN special human rights rapporteurs and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said the death sentences negated fundamental human rights and was termed unjust.
SERAP pleaded with the rapporteurs to sit on the Federal Government to rescind the death sentence imposed on the erring officers.
In a statement signed by the Executive Director of SERAP, Adetokunbo Mumuni, and dated Sunday, January 4, 2014, SERAP expressedhappiness over the decision of the United Nations to intervene.
Mumuni wrote: “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
“The General Court-Martial, held in secret, was a mockery of justice and ignored issues raised by the condemned men that suggest lack of transparency, accountability and general deficiencies in the handling of the security budget and arms purchases.”
“The UN has also acknowledged the discriminatory and arbitrary nature of judicial processes and the danger of the death penalty being used as a tool of repression. It has documented evidence to show that the death penalty is no deterrent, stressing that ‘depriving a human person of his or her life is incompatible with the trend in the 21st Century.”