- Human Rights Watch has condemned the sentencing to death of a Nigerian driver by Zoom
- Justice Mojisola Dada of Lagos high court had on Monday, May 4, sentenced one Olalekan Hameed to death by hanging for the murder of his employer’s mother
- The rights group, however, described the death pronouncement of Hammed via Zoom as inhumane
Human Rights Watch has described the sentencing to death of a Nigerian driver via Zoom as "inherently cruel and inhumane."
BBC Africa reports that the rights group was reacting to one of Nigeria’s first court rulings made using the video chat app because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Legit.ng gathered that a Lagos judge, Mojisola Dada, sentenced Olalekan Hameed to death by hanging for the murder of his employer’s mother.
The hearing lasted almost three hours and was virtually attended by lawyers, including the attorney general.
They all participated in the session on Monday, May 4, from different locations as part of efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.
It was the first day of the easing of lockdown restrictions in Lagos, allowing people to go back to work - although all but urgent court sittings have been suspended.
The judge was in the Lagos high court in Ikeja while Hameed was at Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison, and the lawyers joined from elsewhere.
Hameed had pleaded not guilty to killing 76-year-old Jolasun Okunsanya in December 2018.
Justice Dada was quoted as saying: "The sentence of this court upon you, Olalekan Hameed, is that you be hanged by the neck until you be pronounced dead and may the Lord have mercy upon your soul. This is the virtual judgment of the court."
It is not clear if Hameed will appeal against the sentence.
Human Rights Watch told the BBC that the creation of the virtual court during the coronavirus outbreak showed a commitment to accessing justice.
However, it said that the judiciary was moving in the wrong direction by sentencing a person to death by hanging.
“The irreversible punishment is archaic, inherently cruel and inhuman, it should be abolished,” Human Rights Watch said.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) on Monday, May 4, directed all heads of courts to abide by previous circulars shutting down courts to hear only urgent, essential and time-bound matters.
It was reported that he said this will be pending the outcome of a committee set up to come up with recommendations on how to leverage on technology and hold the business of courts even during the COVID-19 period.
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