President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria may face his litmus test on death penalty as 25 soldiers sentenced to death by a court martial on Deceember 24, 2014 today filed an originating summons before a Federal High Court, Abuja to determine whether the death sentence could be carried out without the authorization of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In the summons filed before the court by their lawyer, Femi Falana SAN, the convicted soldiers also asked the court to determine the following issues:
“Whether the failure or refusals of the defendants to promulgate the findings of the court- martial on the conviction and death sentence passed on the plaintiffs on Decenber 24, 2014 within 60 days is not illegal and unconstitutional as it violates Section 175 of the Armed Forces Act;
Whether the failure or refusal of the defendants to confirm or review the conviction and death sentence passed on the plaintiffs by the court martial on December 24, 2014, is not illegal and unconstitutional by virtue Sections 148, 149, 150, and 151 of the Armed Forces Act;
Whether the death sentence passed on the plaintiff can be carried out without same being approved by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by virtue of section 153 of the Armed Forces Act;
Whether by virtue of Section 175(3) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) the plaintiffs are not entitled to the Prerogative of mercy of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
Joined as defendants in the suit are the Chief of Army Staff and the Nigerian Army. No date is yet fixed for the hearing of the suit.