Death penalty for church bandits in Nigeria

Court sentences three men to be hanged for kidnapping and shooting

A Nigerian court has sentenced three men to be hanged, after they were convicted of kidnapping, robbery and assault at an Anglican Church.

Justice Nayai Aganaba sitting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, in Southern Nigeria’s Niger Delta region sentenced Austine Nimite, Dengiyefa Doupere and Korinnake Mark to death either by firing squad or hanging for their complicity in the kidnapping of Duncan Eke.

Mr. Eke, a retired ExxonMobil executive, was kidnapped on 24 Jan 2016 during a service at the Anglican Church in the town of Igbedi, in the  Kolokuma-Opokuma local government area of Bayelsa State.

During the raid on the church, the kidnappers shot and wounded the Rev. Ezekiel Obata before escaping with their prisoner. A ransom of N20 million ($56,000) was paid for Mr. Eke’s release and he was freed after 21 days. However, police tracked down three members of the gang, while a fourth remains at large.

At trial, Mr. Eke and three other witnesses identified the kidnappers. Justice Aganaba found the accused guilty and sentenced them to death. Amnesty International reports 621 people in Nigeria were sentenced to death in 2017, while 2,285 are awaiting execution. The number of persons condemned to death rose from 171 in 2015 to 527 in 2016 though no executions took place in 2016.

South Sudan and Somalia are the only two states known to have carried out executions, reports AI, however some northern Nigerian states practise sharia law, which imposes capital punishment for adultery, rape and homosexuality. Amnesty International’s statistics record only civil judicial use of the death penalty and does not include Shariah court decisions, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary executions or summary executions.


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