Nigerian man sentenced to death via Zoom, human rights watchdog calls it inhumane

A Nigerian court, who sentenced a man to death in the country's first ever virtual ruling during a five-week coronavirus lockdown,has received criticism from Human Rights Watch (HRW) who have called in "inherently cruel".

HRW said that Nigerian court hearings that take place over the internet must be "fair, transparent and effective",

The comments from the human rights watchdog came after the sentencing via Zoom.

HRW said the creation of the online court during the coronavirus outbreak shows a commitment to accessing justice. However, the group described the death-by-hanging sentence as "inherently cruel and inhumane".

In a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus, all but urgent court sittings in the country have been suspended.

On Monday, judge Mojisola Dada sentenced Olalekan Hameed to death by hanging for murdering his former employer's mother.

Proceedings lasted almost three hours and were watched by a number of lawyers and judges, including the attorney general. Under Nigerian law, state governors approve death sentences before they can be carried out.

Hameed had pleaded not guilty to killing 76-year-old Jolasun Okunsanya in December 2018. "The sentence of this court upon you, Olalekan Hameed, is that you be hanged by the neck until you be pronounced dead and may the Lord have mercy upon your soul. This is the virtual judgment of the court," Justice Dada is quoted as saying. It is not clear if Hameed will appeal against the sentence.

The death penalty is not commonly carried out in Nigeria - although courts continue to impose the sentence.

Local and international rights bodies have repeatedly called on Nigerian authorities to abolish the death sentence.