The hanging of four criminals on Monday by the Edo State Government, has continued to attract international attention.
Osaremwinda Aiguohian and Daniel Nsofor, including two others were hanged on Monday at an undisclosed location.
Governor Adams Oshiomhole had last year reviewed the death sentences on four death row inmates, two of whose sentences were commuted to life imprisonment, and the other two set free.
Mr. Aiguohian during the trial described his action as a “mistake”, though the Supreme Court said it was convinced he deserved to serve his 2004 death sentence.
Similarly, the Supreme Court had ruled that Mr. Nsofor did not deserve to live, as he agreed to have strangled a woman to death after forcefully dispossessing her of money and other personal effects during an armed robbery operation.
However, the High Representative of the European Union, EU, for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission, Catherine Ashton, on Tuesday condemned the execution of the criminals, describing it as the “most regrettable setback to Nigeria’s human rights record.”
“This represents a break of a 7-year moratorium on the death penalty and is a most regrettable setback to Nigeria’s human rights record. It goes against the commitment repeatedly made by the Nigerian authorities, most recently at the EU-Nigeria human rights dialogue held in Abuja in March and at the annual Ministerial meeting in Brussels in May 2013, to maintain the de facto moratorium on executions.”
Though the envoy said she recognised the serious nature of the crimes involved, she said the executions can never be justified and reiterated EU’s long-standing opposition to the use of the death penalty.
She urged the Nigerian authorities to refrain from further executions, while reviewing laws authorising state governors to sign execution warrants.
“I call on Nigeria to join the strong abolitionist trend which prevails on the African continent. As a first step towards abolition, I strongly encourage Nigeria to amend its legislation in order to end the use of the death penalty as sole sentence for a number of crimes,” she said.