In what can be described as a first encouraging step for Avocats Sans Frontières France, the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice on the 31st of January 2014, ordered the Federal Government of Nigeria and Edo state Government to take Mr Thankgod Ebhos’s name off the death row list.
Mr Thankgod Ebhos who has faced imminent threat of execution since June 24 2013 when he was taken to the gallows alongside four other inmates, who were executed in Benin Prison, has been on death row for eighteen years. Apprehension of his transfer to another prison for the purpose of execution has been lurking since then.
Avocats Sans Frontières France in a bid to preclude further executions in Edo state instituted an action against the Federal government of Nigeria and the Edo State Government at the regional court, ECOWAS Court of Justice on Mr Ebhos’ behalf.
An application was filed by Avocats Sans Frontières France, seeking an interim injunction restraining the respondents from executing Mr Thankgod Ebhos pending the hearing and determination of the substantive matter before the court. The court established proof of desire to appeal on the part of Mr Thankgod Ebhos and stated that in the light of such a desire, any move to enforce the death sentence would be a violation of article (4) of the African charter of Human and People’s right which states that if a convict is executed without exhausting the avenues for appeal, it constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of the right to life.
Furthermore, the court held that the application satisfies the court in line with article 20 of the protocol of the court and article 79 of the laws of the procedures of the court.
“Whereas a conviction and sentence hanging on the second plaintiff when his intention to appeal against the conviction and sentence is in the court’s estimation an extreme gravity and urgency and to avoid irreparable damage to the second plaintiff, the court shall grant interim measure or injunction by ordering that the defendant shall suspend the death sentence until the case before the court is determined”, the court stated.
The Court further ordered that his name be removed from death row pending the determination of the substantive matter before it.
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