Nigerian man sentenced to death via Zoom, sparking criticism from rights groups

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The Lagos state high court complex pictured in January 2019.

During a virtual court hearing on Monday, Olalekan Hameed was found guilty of killing his mother’s employer in 2018 and was sentenced to death by hanging.

A Lagos court judge handed the ruling to Hameed, who appeared remotely from prison via Zoom, along with his lawyer and prosecutors who also joined the remote hearing, the ministry spokesman said. of Justice Kayode Oyekanmi to CNN.

Hameed, who denied the charge, remains in prison, said Oyekanmi. CNN was trying to contact the suspect and his lawyer for comment.

The court held the session via Zoom to comply with the state’s social distancing guidelines to curb coronavirus.

Amnesty International Nigeria director Osai Ojigho slammed the country’s death penalty and wondered why Monday’s hearing could not be postponed.

“We know that many courts are exploring how to continue cases virtually, but the challenge is what has been thought of in the virtual courtroom trial,” said Ojigho. “In this case, could this sentence not be postponed to another time?”

“Can we say that justice was seen in this case, did the public have access to this session? It is worth exploring whether the processes that led to the virtual session followed the principle of natural justice and a fair trial.”

Oyekanmi declined to respond to criticism at the hearing, as well as a spokeswoman for the Lagos state judiciary.

Amnesty International calls for the abolition of the death penalty in Nigeria, where there are nearly 3,000 people on death row, according to Ojigho.

State governors in Nigeria must authorize the executions before they are conducted, but some have refrained from doing so in recent years, Ojigho said.

“Nobody wants to be detained [accountable] to end someone’s life, from the model we see. If the government has an internal struggle and is reluctant to sign a death warrant, why don’t we take it out of the books? “Ojigho said.

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