A human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) has alleged that some officials of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) allow criminals to escape court verdicts by getting young men who will serve jail terms for criminals.
Speaking on Thursday at a media session titled, “Forget the past, forfeit the future: A nation seceding from humanity”, Falana said the country is at war and the level of criminality is on the rise.
He noted that solving the country’s security challenges goes beyond hiring mercenaries.
Falana revealed that criminals that have been convicted of a crime are allowed to walk freely on the streets after warders connive with convicts to pay youths willing to serve jail terms on behalf of criminals.
According to him, some of them who have been condemned to prison terms in Kirikiri hardly get there as the exchange is made at Mile 2, a few kilometres to the prison.
He also said that there were some convicts who don’t seek a replacement or representation in prison but simply pay court officials after which he goes from the court to his house.
He noted, “This will surprise you, when a judge pronounces a jail term, sir, before getting to Kirikiri, at Mile 2, warders have an arrangement whereby some prepared young persons will replace the convict. That is the person that will enter the prison, he’s paid.
The second one, in the court premises, there’s a syndicate by the defence counsel, prosecutors, warders and court clerks. Once the judge turns his back, the convict will arrange and pay them and the convict will walk back home.
“There’s a study in Lagos, I think 2005/2006, 199 people sentenced for drug trafficking, none of them made it to the prison. It’s a very serious crisis we are facing. If you want to discuss the security of our country, it goes beyond calling for mercenaries.”
Falana added that the country is at war but those in power, for reasons best known to them, have refused to acknowledge this.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari has disobeyed Section 305 of the constitution which requires him to declare a state of emergency in war-torn areas. He said Buhari has failed to take measures to restore law and order in troubled states.
Falana further noted that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami has refused to name the 400 financiers of terrorists that the AGF announced in May 2021. He also said the 800 suspected terrorists Malami mentioned two weeks after that must be put on trial.
He said, “Our country is at war, but whether the people in government are aware of this, the enormity of the crisis is another. For instance, the president has refused, for some inexplicable reason, to declare a state of emergency in those states. That’s what the law says; Section 305, the President shall declare a state of emergency.
“He is supposed to go to the National Assembly for endorsement so that extraordinary measures can be taken to restore law and order. For reasons best known to the President, he has not done that, even to rebrand bandits as terrorists, was a problem.
“In May last year, the AGF, Malami announced that they have arrested 400 sponsors of Boko Haram but because the staff of judiciary are on strike, once the strike is over, they will be on trial. Two weeks later, he also announced the arrest of 800 Boko Haram suspects who were to be put on trial, that was about a year ago.
“None of them has been put on trial. So if the sponsors of Boko Haram are walking free, perhaps to continue to fund terrorism, we must know the 400 sponsors of terrorism, they must be put on trial. Money has been appropriated by the National Assembly to try arrested terror suspects, but the regime for reasons best known to the people in government is not doing this.
“It is about what has happened to the money budgeted for the defence of our country, what has happened to the arrested Boko Haram sponsors? Those are the kind of questions the likes of (Nasir) El-Rufai (Kaduna State governor) should be asking, not diverting our attention.
“Lagos is the largest city in the world without CCTV cameras, if we had CCTV cameras all over the place, what happened to that lady inside the BRT bus wouldn’t have happened.
“Crime happens everywhere because we don’t have gadgets. At our airports, these guys (bandits) can launch attacks and no one knows who they are. If there is a killing anywhere, people are moving there to touch whatever they can lay hands on, whereas what is done is to remove everyone from there so that taking fingerprints will be enough for investigation.”