A Lagos High Court, Igbosere, on Tuesday ordered the release of 10 inmates who had been awaiting trial for between five and 11 years at the Kirikiri Maximium Prisons, Lagos.
Two among the inmates were said to have been due for release since 2007 and 2008 upon the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions’ advice that there was no case against them.
The continued remand of the other eight of them was also said to have been caused by the failure of the police to forward the inmates’ case files to the DPP after arresting and obtaining remand orders against them.
The freed inmates were accused of offences among which were armed robbery and murder. They had however been kept in prison for a period far longer than lawful due failure of the authorities to prosecute them.
Justice Deborah Oluwayemi, in a ruling, ordered their immediate release, saying their continued detention was an abuse of their rights and a violation of the relevant provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of the state.
She said the inmates kept “in custody without the Commissioner of Police sending the duplicate of the case files to the DPP for legal advice after five years in violation of Sections 265 and 268(5) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law are hereby released from custody”.
The two inmates, whom the DPP had recommended for release, had been on remand since 2007.
They were Soji Awakan (advice of no case to answer issued in November 2008; and Babatunde Alani (advice of no case to answer issue in September 2007).
Others whose case files were never sent to the DPP by the police with the years they were remanded were Kingsley Ogbaka (2002), John Obasi (2003), Segun Lasisi (2005), Iyete Abure (2006), Abdulazeez Audu (2006), Victor Ekpo (2002), Emmanuel Ezekiel (2007) and Mohammed Sakariaya (2005).
The 10 inmates were part of 33 whose files and the status of their cases could not be earlier ascertained by the DPP as of the previous proceedings in January.
A non-governmental organisation, Prisoners’ Rights Advocacy Initiative, through its counsel, Mr. Ahmed Adetola-Kazeem, had earlier instituted a suit seeking the immediate release of deserving ones among them or charge those having case to answer to court immediately.
In the counter-affidavit filed by the state’s Attorney-General’s office, counsel representing it (the office), Mrs. Rotimi Odutola, said 14 among the 33 inmates had been charged to court.
Odutola added that the DPP was concluding plan to charge the rest of them to court.
Adetola-Kazeem, however, said the Attorney-General’s counter-affidavit had not been able to supply a complete record of five among those that were said to have been charged to court.
He therefore urged the court to direct the DPP to exhibit the complete record relating to the date of the said charges and the judges the case were assigned to.
The judge adjourned further hearing until March 7 and for the 10 released inmates to be produced in court.