Nigerian Olalekan Hameed sentenced to death via Zoom in Lagos

A Nigerian man Olalekan Hameed was sentenced to death on Monday via popular video conferencing app Zoom for killing his mother’s employer in 2018.

A judge in Lagos, who delivered the ruling at a virtual court hearing, said Hameed was sentenced to death by hanging.

The online sentence sparked condemnation from rights groups who described the ruling as inhumane, with some wondering why the hearing could not be delayed.

Justice ministry spokesman Kayode Oyekanmi told CNN that Hameed appeared remotely from prison via Zoom, along with his lawyer and prosecutors who also joined the hearing remotely.

Hameed pleaded not guilty to the charge but remains in prison after the sentence, Oyekanmi said.

The court held the session via Zoom to comply with Lagos state’s social distancing guidelines to curb coronavirus.

Lagos is Nigeria’s most populous state, and the epicenter of COVID-19 in the country. More than 100 people have died from COVID-19 in Nigeria, including President Muhammadu Buhari‘s chief of staff Abba Kyari.

Reports quoted Amnesty International Nigeria Director Osai Ojigho as condemning the use of the death penalty via Zoom and questioned why Monday’s hearing couldn’t be delayed.

“We know many courts are exploring how they can continue cases virtually, but the challenge is how much thought has been given to the process for virtual court sittings,” Ojigho said.

“In this case, could this sentencing not be delayed to another time?””Can we say justice was seen to be done in this case, did the public have access to this session? It’s worth exploring if the processes that led to the virtual sitting followed the principle of natural justice and a fair hearing.”

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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