story by crossriverwatch admin
Veteran Human Rights Activist, Femi Falana (SAN) has condemned the June 8, 2012 Judgment of a High Court sitting in Calabar, the Cross River State Capital.
Justice Tambe Ebuta of the Calabar High Court on Friday, June 8, 2012, sentenced a 17-year-old boy to death by hanging. Justice Ebuta found the accused, Solomon Ezukwa, guilty of shooting his step- brother, Joseph Banyio, to death using a locally made single-barrel gun.
The incident took place in Aliki village in Boki Local Government Area of Cross River State. According to Mr Christian Ugwouke, the prosecuting police officer, who investigated the matter, the accused intentionally killed his brother.
Ugwuouke told the court that the two brothers were playing a game when an argument ensued between them. The investigating officer also tendered a medical report during the trial as evidence that Joseph Banyio died as a result of wounds sustained from a gunshot at close range. Ezukwa however pleaded not guilty and argued that he acted on self defence.
“When the argument ensued, it was my brother that ran into the house and brought out a matchete which he used to hit me several times. I then went into the house and brought out a gun to defend myself,” he said.
The prosecution counsel, Barr. Mrs Adidi Egba argued that the law should take its course because, “The evidence before the court are overwhelming and clear testimonies that Solomon Ezukwa deliberately shot and killed his brother.”
But the defence counsel, Barrister Brown Obi prayed the court to consider Solomon Ezukwa as a juvenile and discharge him.
Justice Ebuta however ruled that the exhibits tendered during the trial showed that the accused was guilty of the offence and ordered that he should die by hanging.
But in his reaction, Bar. Femi Falana told crossriverwatch that “under the Criminal Code of Cross
River State and under the Child’s Right Law of the State as well as the Child Right Convention of which Nigeria is a signatory, it is illegal to sentence a child of seventeen years to death. On that basis, the judgment can be set aside”. The Senior Advocate of Nigeria advised the Defendant’s lawyer and family to approach the court for a stay of execution of the judgment while they proceed on appeal.
Mr. Falana wondered why this kind of a thing should be happening in a democracy when “even under the war torn days of military rule when fundamental rights were purportedly suspended under General Babangida, I successfully appealed and saved the lives of the 12 kids who were arraigned and sentenced to death for robbery by a Lagos Court in the nineties. Under the Nigerian laws, pregnant women and children of age seventeen cannot be sentenced to death”.
Mr. Falana also obliged to help in Ezukwa’s case and urged Barrister Brown Obi the defense counsel to contact him for any assistance that may be required to save the life of Ezukwa because he is still a juvenile.
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