The NGO has mounted a defence for the two condemned men

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has asked the Gambian government to suspend the execution of two Nigerians on death row in that country pending the resolution of its case before the ECOWAS Court.

In a letter to  the Attorney General and  Minister of Justice of the Gambia, Lamin Jobarteh, on Saturday, SERAP requested a stay in execution ?pending the determination of ECOWAS Court Suit Number ECW/CCJ/APP/11/12? which it filed on Wednesday.

Two Nigerians, Micheal Ifunanya and Stanley Agbaeze, are among 48 others on death row in the Gambia for various criminal offences. 

SERAP said the request is made pursuant to Article 22 (2) of the Protocol A/P.1/7/91 on the Community Court of Justice which provides that, “When a dispute is brought before the Court, Member States or Institutions of the Community shall refrain from any action likely to aggravate or militate against it’s settlement.”

The group say the Gambian government has a legal obligation to comply with the Protocol and not to engage in any action that will prejudice the outcome of the ECOWAS Court suit.

The Gambian government recently said it was suspending further executions of death row prisoners after the unlawful execution of nine prisoners that has attracted widespread condemnation.

?We are concerned that in the same statement your government has left open the possibility of further executions when it said that the suspension was ?temporary?? Femi Falana, the group?s attorney said in the letter.

According to the Gambian government further executions will be ?dictated by either declining violent crime rate, in which case the moratorium will be indefinite, or an increase in violent crime rate, in which case the moratorium will be lifted automatically.” 

?This suggests that [The Gambia] government may use alleged increase in violent crime to resume executions,? Falana, recently crowned a senior advocate of Nigeria argued.

?Any such move will amount to a fundamental breach of the Article 22 (2) of ECOWAS Protocol,? he added.

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