It is yet uncertain if Ghadafi, who is also the chairman of the African Union (AU), would obey the order, which was based on the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.
The ACHPR, based in Banjul, The Gambia, is an organ of the AU charged with overseeing member-countries compliance with their legal obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights.
Recently, the Chairperson of House of Representatives Committee on the Diaspora, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, alerted Nigerians on the plight of Nigerians on death row in Libya.
Subsequently, a petition was filed by a Nigerian-based NGO, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), through its solicitor Mr Femi Falana to ACHPR seeking to stop their execution.
The Nigerians covered by the African Commission's decision include: Adepoju Adebowale, Abdulah Usman, David Okiki Awolabi, Micky Remi, Okuronbo Osazemhide, Gani Olu, Livingstone Kennedy, Ikeoma, Ogurapulu Richard, Don Emmanuel Nwaeueje, James Amala, Declan Nnamdi, Emmanuel Ude, Moses Anigbogu, Ogoubamu, Okhwku Moha, John Andrew, Jude Idahosa, Juliana Okolo, and Luke Ejike.
In the provisional measures with reference number ACHPR/ PROVM/LIB/01/75/09 dated September 9, 2009, and signed by the Acting Chairperson of the Commission, Bahame Tom Mukirya Nyanduga, the commission said it was seriously concerned about the allegations that several Nigerians were held on death row, while others were held in prison under inhuman and degrading condition in Libya.
The provisional measures read in part: “I have the honour to bring to the Brother Leader's attention, a complaint submitted in terms of Article 55 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights to the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), a human rights non-governmental organization based in Nigeria against the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, on behalf of a number of Nigerian nationals alleging that they are currently held in Libyan jails in contravention of their rights guaranteed by the African Charter.
“The Complaint has been registered as a Communication against Libya. I would also like to inform the Brother Leader that the Communication shall be tabled before the African Commission, for seizure during its next Ordinary Session, which is scheduled to take place from 11-25 November 2009, and will subsequently be sent to the authorities.”
The African Union Commission also said: “In accordance with Rule 111(3) of the Rules of Procedure of the African Commission, I request Brother Leader to intervene in the matter with the view of preventing irreparable damage being caused to the victims while the African Commission inquires about the veracity of the Complaint. The appeal is particularly pertinent in respect of the imprisoned Nigerians, whom the Complainant alleges that they await the death penalty.
“The African Commission while not expressing its position at this point on the legality of these allegations, wishes to draw the Brother Leader's attention and the attention of the authorities in Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to Resolution ACHPR/Res. 139 (XXXXIV) 08 adopted at the 44th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on the Moratorium on the Death Penalty in Africa.
“In this regard, the African Commission would be grateful if the Brother Leader would heed its request and suspend the carrying out of the death penalty on the victims, pending the consideration of the Communication. The African Commission would also like to assure the Brother Leader that this Communication would be dealt with expeditiously. I hope this appeal for provisional measures shall receive your positive response.”
Reacting to the African Commission's decision, SERAP's lawyer Falana said it was a landmark decision and one which showed the willingness of the African Commission to assert its authority in critical situations such as the present one to ensure full protection of the human rights of the African people.
Dabiri-Erewa commended SERAP for its positive intervention while expressing surprise that the foreign ministry is still in a state of denial. She expressed sadness to have seen the Nigerian ambassador to Libya justifying their condemnation and the human rights commission saying that the matter was over exaggerated.
“I even heard that the Nigerians did not get fair hearing and we should not sit back and watch these lives wasted and we call on more NGOs to join SERAP's struggle,” she told THISDAY yesterday.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ayo Olukanmi, told THISDAY that his ministry was yet to get the document where the ACHPR took a stand and promised to react as soon as it was made available to his ministry.