The long road to death: why the Reverend King, 2744 others were not executed

There are 73,102 inmates in Nigeria. Over 2745 of them have been sentenced and are waiting to die for over 10 years now, write ADEBISI ONANUGA and ROBERT EGBE

Celestine Egbunuche’s story is not the type you hear very often. In 2000, he and his son Paul were arrested by the police following a death in his community in Imo State.

The police accused Egbunuche, then 82, and Paul, then 22, of hiring some individuals who kidnapped and murdered a man in litigation over land ownership. They were tried, convicted and sentenced to death by a high court in 2014.

In 2018, he clocked 100, becoming Nigeria’s oldest prisoner. His death warrant was never signed. Father and son maintained their innocence.

Following pressure from a non-governmental organisation, the Global Society for Anti Corruption and the media, Egbunuche received a state pardon from former Governor Rochas Okorocha in 2019.Paul was not so lucky. He is still at the Enugu Maximum Security Prison, awaiting the hangman’s noose. 2,745 death row inmates

Paul is not alone.The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) stated last year that there were 2,745 death row inmates in the country.

One of the most notorious of them is the self-proclaimed leader of the Christian Praying Assembly, Rev. Chukuemeke Ezeugo King. King’s death sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court and he has been awaiting the hang man’s noose for more than 10 years.

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