Juliana Francis

A lawyer, Bayo Akinlade Esq, has stated that issues concerning Awaiting Trial Inmates and congestion of correctional facilities were caused by the judiciary,

The lawyer made these allegations in a social media post, stating thus; “ It is interesting to note that issues with most awaiting trial inmates and the consequent congestion in correctional facilities is the ‘doing’ of the Judiciary.

He added: “Yes, the Judiciary is the only institution that has the power to commit anyone to prison custody, whether legitimately or otherwise.”

He explained that recently, the Duty Solicitors Network in collaboration with the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Branches in Lagos State, Enough is Enough (EiE), EndSARS United and other Civil Society Organisations conducted an audit of the correctional facilities to ascertain if the 2020 #EndSARS suspects were still in Prison Custody.

He said: “We reached out to the Correctional Facilities, the Ministry of Justice, and the Judiciary before we embarked on this exercise. All of them could not tell us for sure if there were any detainees from that period as some of the records, they had, did not distinguish between inmates arrested because of the #Endsars protest and suspects from everyday criminal activities, which I found extremely odd.”

The revealed that the group, however, found out that some of these #Endsars suspects, now awaiting trial inmates (Political Prisoners) were in prison custody after all.

He noted: “What shocked me the most is that in the last two years, two Christmases and two new years, the following is the reality, since arraignment, most of them have not seen the inside of a courtroom. On the days their cases come up, the magistrates suspiciously don’t sit. No Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) advice has been submitted in some cases. Where DPP advice was issued, no information has been filed at the High Court. Where information has been filed at the High Court, no court has been assigned to hear these cases

“Let’s now ask the tough questions, between the Police, the Ministry of Justice, and the Judiciary, who amongst these institutions is sabotaging the provisions of our Administration of Criminal Justice Law. Who amongst these government bodies is destroying our justice sector and ruining whatever we have left of a failed justice system? I went to Court to represent Ismail and Daniel who were both arrested and detained two years ago, but the court, again suspiciously did not sit and the inmates were not brought to court. Can the Judiciary give us an answer why this is the case? Can the Ministry of Justice give us an answer as to why there are no DPP advice after two years and why they are not diligently prosecuting these cases? Why are some of these awaiting trial inmates in detention for more than one whole year without access to justice? The response I will likely get is: “We are trying our best.” With this, I wish the Judiciary and all other Government stakeholders in the Administration of the Criminal Justice Sector a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We hope that the Lagos State Administration of Criminal Justice Reform Committee will rise to the occasion and meet our expectations in 2023. On a final note, remember those in prison as the holy book commands, especially since you all put them there.”

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