CDHR seeks release of Nigerian awaiting execution in Saudi Arabian prison
Leading rights group, the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) yesterday called for quick Federal Government’s intervention on a Nigerian, Suliamon Olufemi, who was sentenced to death in 2005 by a Saudi Arabian court for the alleged murder of a policeman in Jeddah in 2002.
The National President of CDHR, Malachy Ugwummadu, in a letter dated August 19, and addressed to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja, noted that notwithstanding his insistence on his innocence, OIufemi is presently incarcerated at the Dhaban prison in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia clearly under daily threat of execution having exhausted all of his legal avenues for appeal.
The group said information at its disposal depicted that during Olufemi’s pre–trial detention and throughout his trial, he did not have a lawyer or consular assistance and was not given adequate translation or interpretation facilities.
According to the body, it is understood that during his arrest, he was tortured, ill-treated and was forced to put his thumbprint as his signature on a statement written in Arabic, a language he could not read. “It is understood that it was this statement that the judge in the court of first instance referred to as a confession”, it added.
The group therefore urged for government’s intervention on the case as well as to call on Saudi authorities to order an independent investigation into his allegation of torture and other ill-treatment with a view to granting him a reprieve, reappraise his convention and order his retrial in line with international fair trial standards with an unfettered access to a lawyer of his choice for defence.
CDHR regretted that the escalating incidence of avoidable deaths against Nigerian nationals across the globe either through violence or xenophobic attacks or shabby and substandard trails were sufficient to arouse curiosity to revisit concrete cases such as Olufemi’s case.
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