Human Rights activist and a former deputy head of Chamber of Femi Falana Law firm, Mr. Jiti Ogunye, has vehemently disagreed with his former boss and comrade in human rights activism on the issue of execution of condemned prisoners in Lagos state.
Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) had on Wednesday, April 19, 2017, written a letter to the governor of Lagos state, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, to the effect that he must not sign the death warrant of Rev King and other condemned convicts in the state.
Mr. Falana had premised his argument on a High Court of Lagos judgment of 2012, which he said had declared death sentences by hanging and firing squad null and void. He went further to advise the governor to follow the footsteps of his two predecessors by commuting their death sentences to life imprisonment.
Mr. Jiti Ogunye vehemently opposed this argument of his former boss. Mr. Ogunye in an exclusive interview with encomium.ng said while he respects Mr. Falana personally and his knowledge of law, but he disagreed with him on this issue of death sentence and its execution.
His words “I support death penalty. I am not an abolitionist (of death penalty) “.
He went further, “I believe that until and unless the death penalty or capital punishment is removed from our statue book, that law must be enforced.”
He said it is against the rule of law when a law exists and for one reason or the other it cannot be enforced.
He went further in his argument to say that he cannot agree with the preposition that says that, because a High Court of Lagos has held that death penalty if carried out would infringe on the fundamental rights of the condemned convicts therefore the state government should not carry out the judgment.
He said he disagreed with this preposition for two reasons: “One, the High Court that granted that order is on the same pedestal with the High Court that sentenced the condemned convicts in the first instance. The little law that I know tells me that one high court cannot counter the judgment of another high Court because they are court of the same coordinate jurisdiction “.
Two, he argued that since some of the condemned convicts have exhausted their rights of appeal to Supreme Court level and the Supreme Court had affirmed the judgments of the lower courts , then nobody should treat the judgment of the Supreme Court with levity.
He said he may agree with the abolitionist that the mechanism used for the execution of the death penalty may be crude. He mentioned hanging and firing squad as being crude. He, however, suggested better mechanism such as gas chamber, electric chair and lethal injection could be adopted.
He also lampooned state governors who refused to sign death warrants of condemned prisoners, on the excuse that they don’t want to stain their hands with the blood of another human being as being hypocritical. Because according to him if you as governor embezzled state money for roads and hospitals where people die in their hundreds on daily basis “what moral justification do they have to say they don’t want to stain their hands with blood?” he asked rhetorically.
– TOLANI ABATTI for encomium.ng