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Five, Including Police, Executed for Armed Robberies

January 17, 1996

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) _ As hundreds of people watched, an assistant police commissioner begged for forgiveness before being executed for armed robbery.

A sergeant and three civilians convicted in the same case also were shot by firing squad Tuesday at a prison in northwestern Kebbi state, where the case was tried.

Before the executioners fired, Aliya Manza looked up and begged for their forgiveness, saying, ``I have dragged your good name through the mud.″ Manza had been the assistant commissioner for police in Kebbi, and he was accused of using his position to supply sophisticated weapons to a gang of armed robbers.

About 2,500 people gathered to watch the event, held in a field specially prepared. The death penalty is common in Nigeria for violent crimes and is carried out either by firing squad or hanging, with the public sometimes invited to watch.

In November, nine political dissidents convicted of murder were hanged on a single day.

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