MEET FRANK OSHANUGOR
By Frank Oshanugor
The negative effects of the October 2020 EndSARS protest that resulted in violence in Lagos and some other cities in Nigeria are still manifesting as some inmates of the Nigerian Correctional Service Center, Ikoyi Lagos are having their cases stalled in courts as their detention warrants were destroyed during the protest.
A reliable source close to the Correctional Service facility told AtlanticNewsonline at the weekend that over 2000 of the inmates some of who were awaiting trial detainees on court warrant orders prior to the EndSARS could not have their days in court as the detention warrants upon which they were brought to the facility were burnt during the EndSARS riot.
Some of the inmates were charged with different offences like defilement, stealing, conspiracy and attempted kidnap, murder, obtaining by trick and other criminal acts.
According to our source, some of the inmates were brought into the facility on awaiting trial basis as the office of the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) was yet to give its legal advice on the cases with respect to prosecution.
It was gathered that some inmates have spent up to seven years awaiting the DPP’s advice on direction to follow. Some of the cases according to him seem to have been forgotten by the DPP and police prosecutors while the concerned inmates have been living in detention hopelessly.
It is no longer news that facilities at Ikoyi Correctional Service Center like other Correctional centres in the country are over-stretched due to over population that has exceeded the original capacity of the facilities.
Matters are not helped by the indiscriminate charging to court of under aged suspects whose ages are allegedly inflated by police investigating officers to adult category as a way of railroading them to prison once they are unable to pay for their bail.
AtlanticNewsonline learned that there have been instances where Correctional Service authorities had to write to the DPP or court pointing out the improper charging of minors to court and their subsequent order from the court for their detention after illegal alteration of their ages by the Investigating Police Officers.
Further more, it was gathered that some of the alleged offences committed by the under aged inmates were not worth detaining them if police should discreetly carry out their function putting into consideration the fact that the cost of prosecuting them and keeping them at the Correctional facilities is far higher than the penalty for the alleged offences. For example, a suspect who stole a sewing machine with a value less than N20,000 is charged to court and remanded in the Correctional facility without trial for about three years at the expense of the government.
Some legal practitioners whose opinion were sought on the matter said it was high time the government carry out a serious constitutional reform on the nation’s criminal justice system whereby the Nigerian Correctional Service should be removed from the exclusive list and placed in concurrent list to enable the various states where such correctional facilities are located, to contribute in the funding of the facilities and feeding of the inmates many of whose offences are against the State and not Federal Government.