Friday, 23 September 2011

Troy Davis Executed By Lethal Injection (Photos)

Troy Davis had already eaten his last meal Wednesday night as 7 p.m.--his scheduled execution time--came and went. A few minutes later, Georgia prison officials announced they would delay his execution so that the U.S. Supreme Court could consider the prisoner's last-minute request for an appeal.

Over the next four hours, Davis' supporters in Georgia celebrated and prayed, hoping that the delay meant Davis would stave off death one more time. Davis was no stranger to 11th-hour appeals: Wednesday was his fourth execution date. He had also faced execution on July 2007, September 2008, and October 2008. Each of these earlier appointments with execution produced additional stays so that his case could come under fresh judicial review.

In September 2008, the Supreme Court granted Davis a stay just an hour and a half before he was set to be put to death. Indeed, Davis reportedly  declined to request a special last meal because he believed another 11th-hour reprieve was in the offing. He ate the same cheeseburger fare as all the other Georgia inmates did.

But shortly after 10 p.m., the Supreme Court announced it had decided not to hear Davis' appeal, and Davis was then strapped to a gurney and put to death at 11:08 pm.

Davis' execution has rallied death penalty opponents who believe that Georgia had executed an innocent man. But another issue raised by Davis' roller-coaster ride through state-mandated life and death over the past 20 years is whether Death Row itself constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

Convicts in less high-profile cases have also experienced the same 11th-hour stays. Last week, Texas Death Row prisoner Duane Buck was granted a Supreme Court execution stay two hours into the six-hour window Texas prison officials had set for his execution.

Anti-death penalty activists, including the human-rights group Amnesty International, have compared the dramatic and protracted appeals process to "mock executions"--a practice widely recognized as torture. As of 2008, American Death Row prisoners spent an average of 13 years waiting for their executions. In some countries, waits of more than three years are outlawed as inhumane.

The Supreme Court in the past has tried to prevent the last-minute decisions that come after a prisoner has already been scheduled to die. "Justice [Sandra Day] O'Connor asked the states to change the time of execution to day time so that when the inevitable last-minute appeals come in the justices are at least at work instead of all over, at home or you know around the world," Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, told The Lookout. "A lot of states did do that, but it really doesn't solve the problem. Whatever decisions are made before, lawyers are going to file something new the day of the execution--that's their job." This time, the court hasn't explained what took so long.

In past Supreme Court rulings on the issue, Justice Stephen Breyer led the charge--together with now-retired Justice John Paul Stevens--in arguing that the Supreme Court should consider whether Death Row itself constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Such measures are barred under the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

In 1995, Stevens argued that leaving criminals on Death Row for long periods of time may be unconstitutional. He cited a comment in a Supreme Court decision from 1890: "When a prisoner sentenced by a court to death is confined in the penitentiary awaiting the execution of the sentence, one of the most horrible feelings to which he can be subjected during that time is the uncertainty during the whole of it." In 1890, the execution waiting period was no more than four weeks.

Stevens also wrote that the court ruled the death penalty legal because the Framers considered it permissible and because it serves as retribution and as a deterrent to crime. Stevens argued that the Framers would never have countenanced decades-long Death Rows in their time, since people were executed promptly after sentencing. Stevens also argued that the longer a prisoner awaits execution, the less likely it is that the sentence will produce a deterrent or retributive effect.

Stevens contended that the lengthy appeals process is necessary, however, since more than 30 percent of death penalty verdicts between 1973 and 2000 were overturned. Stevens argued in a 2009 case that the death penalty should be outlawed altogether in order to resolve the issue of whether the extended appeals of capital cases he saw as constitutionally mandated were nevertheless in violation of the Constitution's Eighth Amendment.

Justice Clarence Thomas disagreed. Convicted murderer William Thompson argued that his 30 years on Death Row were cruel and unusual punishment. But Thomas wrote that it was the prisoner's own fault for appealing his sentence again and again. Thomas also said that the severity of Thompson's crime merited the death penalty. Thompson was convicted of torturing and murdering a woman while trying to extort several hundred dollars from her family.

Death penalty opponents have made the same argument in international courts. Is it cruel to keep a person on Death Row, in perpetual doubt about whether he will live or die? Or is it the prisoner's fault for appealing his sentence in the first place? Most of the decisions have sided with the former argument, reasoning that it's only natural that a condemned prisoner would cling to life by mounting extended and repeated appeals.

In some other countries that still use capital punishment--including Kenya, Malawi and Uganda--a death sentence is commuted to life in prison if execution is delayed by more than three years, according to Reprieve, a London-based anti-death penalty nonprofit. The European Court of Human Rights held in 1989 that forcing a condemned prisoner to endure "the conditions on death row and the anguish and mounting tension of living in the ever-present shadow of death" is inhumane. The UK Privy Council, which is the highest court for former Commonwealth countries, also says long periods on Death Row are inhumane because they add the "additional torture of a long period of alternating hope and despair."

Thursday, 22 September 2011

An Interview with the Boko Haram Leader

What is Boko Haram about?

Our aim is to spread Islam all over Nigeria, that is our mission and I want people to understand that our correct name is Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad. Those calling our group Boko Haram do so to discredit the group and it ideas. It was formed at three fundamental levels.

The first level from which our group emerged was from people in this country who, for selfish reasons, recruited young people and sometimes children and sent them overseas for education. In reality, these people are totally ignorant of the reasons why these big men take them abroad. In the name of education, these young men are taken to mostly Arab countries and turned into militants who respect only those who sponsored them abroad. Those big men who sponsor these youths don’t have any conscience and no love for this country.

It all started in 2004 when the Government of Mauritania fell.

It is similar to what is happening in Libya now, though slightly different. When the government in Mauritania fell in 2004, some individuals from that country came into Nigeria to recruit some youths as mercenaries to join forces with them to overthrow the government in power.

The second level of our membership is made up of young men who were recruited by our late leader, Mohammed Yusuf. Yusuf was approached by some people from Mauritania to recruit more Nigerians to continue with the struggle in Mauritania. The grounds were that this young people were being recruited to further their Islamic studies. They were to serve as a support group to the Mauritanian army. But our leader Mohammed Yusuf rejected the plan. But a number of Nigerian big men who were involved in the Mauritania struggle were angry with Yusuf. This led to a disagreement which pitched the young men loyal to Yusuf against those backing the big men. Yusuf, however, insisted on genuine Islam whereas those opposing him were mercenaries who were willing to serve their master’s interest in Mauritania.

At what point did they leave perfect Islam and become violent?

Whatever I am telling you now I have already made available to the SSS when they arrested me. There was a misunderstanding within the group and this disagreement was between those who received military training in Mauritania and those who were loyal to Yusuf. The SSS infiltrated our ranks and began to arrest many of those who were militants. However, as they were arrested some big men moved in to ensure that the court released them and they came back caused more problems within our group.

In 2009 the disagreement developed into a crisis in areas where our group was spreading Islamic ideals. I was in charge of our operations in Bauchi, Gombe and Plateau. The crisis was more in Bauchi State in two locations and in Kano in one location. In Bauchi, a group began to lay claim to a mosque that was built by our group. This caused a major crisis again and a young girl was kidnapped in Bauchi and taken to Borno State. Our group was manipulated but we told one intelligence officer, Bala, who was investigating the case that her relations took her to Borno and if the issue was not handled well it could cause a crisis. The SSS directed us to contact the Commissioner of Police in Borno State to secure the girl’s release. We were still in the process when the Bauchi State governor directed that members of our group should be driven away from the state. That was how our people started to resist the forced evacuation and the crisis with the government spread to Borno State. In fact, the crisis began in Bauchi and not Borno.

Anytime there is a bombing in Nigeria Boko Haram claims responsibility, for example, four times in Borno, Police headquarters and UN office in Abuja.

Yes, we bombed some of those places you mentioned. Remember that I told you that some of our members were recalled from military training in Mauritania. Among them were three specialist in bomb making.

When this crisis began I made a move to the authorities advising that the arrest of Boko Haram members would not bring an end to the crisis. I suggested that the government should stop the arrest and release those already arrested. Let me repeat it today, government should rebuild houses, mosques and schools demolished in Bauchi and Borno states. Government should not interfere in the genuine worship of our group and ensure justice for all. If these are not in place, I predict that the Nigerian situation may become like what is happening in Somalia.

I give this warning because many of those young men who went to Mauritania are being attracted back home because of the violent situation brought by the present crisis.

When I gave my advice, the police chased and arrested me, and kept me in detention. Before I was detained, I gave the police the video recordings of how some of how our members were being given military training, but the IGP ordered that I should be detained. I was left in detention for 10 months.

But those things that I warned about are playing out today. While I was in detention, I was in contact with our people and I still gave forewarnings to the authorities about attacks. I even told them beforehand whenever an operation was to take place. The bombing of the police headquarters had been planned and on many occasions and I had always told them in advance.

In fact, Bala had helped the police because each time I got in touch with him he worked to avert the attacks. If not, the police headquarters would have been bombed before now. Three days before the attack I warned the police that there would be an attack in Abuja that would embarrass the security authorities. Also, after the bombing of the police headquarters, I was summoned before the IGP and given a GSM phone. I called the person who planned and led the attack and we spoke right in front of the IGP. So, all these terror attacks are caused by the negligence of government.

Since I was released from detention, I have rejoined my group and some of us have warned our members to stick to the original ideals of our leader, Yusuf. He did not tell us to kill innocent people or to break into and steal from banks. If there is a conflict between the faithful and the authorities our opposition should be against the authorities and not the talakawas.

There are allegations that Boko Haram is being sponsored by some top level politicians, is it true?

The truth is that politicians are the root cause of this Boko Haram problem. For instance, in Borno State, the governor sponsors a group of armed youths known as ECOMOG. It is this ECOMOG that the governor formed and looks after, above the police, SSS and other security agencies. In Gombe State, the governor has the Kalari. I was once contacted by a governorship candidate to kill an opponent for a fee. The security agencies know what I am telling you.

In Bauchi there is the Tarafuka, an armed group sponsored by the government, and the government watches on, even when we have the SSS and police. That is why our new leader, Mallam Abubakar Shekau, is calling on the youths to disregard all government in the country – a call that has that has brought him and the group into conflict with the government. Some politicians are now taking the advantage of the conflict between the Boko Haram leadership and the authorities to execute their own agenda.

Did Boko Haram bomb the United Nations Office in Abuja?

I would not answer the question of whether Boko Haram bombed the UN building or not for some reasons.

Did Boko Haram bomb the Police headquarters in Abuja?

Yes, we bombed the police headquarters in Abuja. I told you earlier that when the bombing of the Police headquarters happened I called the person who led the attack, I was in front of the IGP. Yes, we bombed the police headquarters in Abuja. They asked me why we bombed the police headquarters and I told him (IGP) in his presence that it was because of his statement in Maiduguri that the days of Boko Haram were numbered.

Why does Boko Haram bomb army barracks and attack police and security operatives? What do they do to affect Islam or the work of Boko Haram?

It is because of the indiscriminate killing of our members and innocent people by the police without trial. They arrest innocent people harass and shoot them and the authorities do nothing about it. Why should we then leave the police?

Boko Haram is asking for Sharia in all the Northern states, and the states have Sharia, so what is the problem again?

I have been waiting for this question. I was in detention when it was said that Boko Haram had threatened to turn the entire North, or the country, into a Sharia state. Since I came out of detention have you heard that Boko Haram is threatening to turn the whole of Nigeria into an Islamic nation? The truth is that those spreading such information are just lying against us. What we are demanding is that those states that have independently declared their states Sharia states should implement it to the letter. Have you seen Sharia cut the hand of someone who steals a cow head, while someone who corruptly enriches himself is left to go free? They have chased away local LovePeddlers and brought in international red light LovePeddlers to replace them. They have also banned local alcoholic drinks, yet they drink imported spirits in their respective government houses. Is that Sharia? They are insincere, so they must be effective in the implementation of Sharia. Sharia is being abused. I pity this country. Mauritania that does not have any wealth exported Boko Haram into Nigeria. Now, Libya that has money and wealth has collapsed. Who says that this countries would not bring something worse than Boko Haram into Nigeria?

Monday, 5 September 2011

The Nigerian Super Eagles to take on Argentina On Tuesday September 6 @ 2pm

Super Eagles of Nigeria
La Albiceleste of Argentina
Nigeria Vs Agentina On SuperSport 7 @ 2pm
The Super Eagles of Nigeria will be taking on Argentina in a friendly match on Tuesday 6th March in Dhaka, Bangladesh. This match comes up exactly two days after the Super Eagles play Madagascar in an AFCON 2012 Qualifier in Antananarivo and four days after Argentina play Venezuela in a friendly match in Kolkata, India.

The last time the two sides met was in June 2011 in a friendly match played in Abuja and then the Super Eagles trounced the Argentines 4-1. That result coupled with the loss to Poland a week later and the disgraceful performance of the team in the COPA America resulted in the sacking of Sergio Batista and the appointment of Alejandro Sabella as coach.

Alejandro Sabella wanting to start off on a good note has named a 23-man crack squad to be captained by Lionel Messi for this match. The full team is made up of: Goalkeepers - Mariano Andújar (Catania/Italy), Sergio Romero (Sampdoria/Italy), Esteban Andrada (Lanus/Argentina)
Defenders - Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City/England), Nicolás Burdisso (Roma/Italy), Nicolás Pareja (Spartak Moscow/Russia), Marcos Rojo (Spartak Moscow/Russia), Martín Demichelis (Malaga/Spain), Federico Fernández (Napoli/Italy), Nicolás Otamendi (Porto/Portugal)
Midfielders - Ángel di María (Real Madrid/Spain), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona/Spain), Javier Pastore (Paris Saint-Germain/France), Éver Banega (Valencia/Spain), Ricardo Álvarez (Internazionale/Argentina), Lucho González (Marseille/France), Jonás Gutiérrez ( Newcastle United/England), Fabián Rinaudo (Sporting Lisbon/Portugal), José Ernesto Sosa (Metalist Kharkiv/Ukraine)
Forwards - Gonzalo Higuaín (Real Madrid/Spain), Lionel Messi (Barcelona/Spain- captain), Sergio Agüero (Manchester City/England) & Eduardo Salvio (Athletico Madrid/Spain)

Gaffer of the Super Eagles, Samson Siasia has been forced to leave out some key players like Osaze Odemwingie, Taiye Taiwo & Ekhigo Ehiosun cos of injury and match rustiness. Kalu Uche has also been excused to allow him settle at his new club. Those that will prosecute the match are :  Goalkeepers - Vincent Enyeama , Dele Aiyenugba , Chigozie Agbim
Defenders - Chibuzor Okonkwo, Elderson Echiejile, Joseph Yobo, Yusuf Ayila, Efe Ambrose, Dele Adeleye, Gege Soriola
Midfielders - Joel Obi, John Mikel Obi, Fengor Ogude, Emmanuel Ekpo, Isaac Promise, Nosa Igiebor, Solomon Okoronkwo, Ahmed Musa 
Forwards- Obinna Nsofor, Victor Anichebe, Ike Uche, Emmanuel Emenike, Peter Utaka, Chinedu Obasi, Brown Ideye

Despite their recent run of poor results, the La Albiceleste will still be considered as favourites to win cos of the sheer ability and class of the individual players in the team. Also, Argentinina occupies the 9th position on the FIFA ranking index while the Super Eagles are ranked 38th. Added to this is the partisan support guaranteed the team as a result of the ''god-like'' status of Lionel Messi in Bangladesh and the current wave of ''messimania'' sweeping Bangladesh. Still the Nigerian side is not one to be sniffed at, and they boast amongst their ranks experienced and quality players as Vincent Enyeama, Joseph Yobo, John Mikel Obi, Joel Obi, Ahmed Musa, Brown Ideye and Chinedu Obasi.

Although Samson Siasia has said this match is not the priority and a ''must win'' for his team, you can be sure he'd still want to win and prove to those who were unappreciative of his side's 4-1 victory in June that he can get good results against the best of teams.

So what will be the outcome of this match? Drop your comments, predictions and vote in the poll. . . .