Poverty, starvation, insecurity, political thwarts are not the only things that disturb the peace and prosperity promised in the national anthem by the heroes past, a great number of unconvicted inmates are suffering behind the dark bars of the world beyond reach.
Among reasons for the rising spike in crime or criminal activities, is ascribed to the overpopulation in the nation and the number of people living in extreme poverty.
According to world poverty clock, extreme poverty in the nation has risen to six(6) persons in a minute living below $1.90, totally at about 4320 in a day. Confirming the stats, British Prime Minister, Theresa May, in a report according to Vanguard on the 16th of February, said;
” Much of Nigeria is thriving, with many individuals enjoying the fruits of a resurgent economy, yet 87 million Nigerians live below $1 and 90 cents a day, making it home to more very poor people than any other nation in the world”
The world bank in her definition of persons or people living in extreme said if they live below $1.90 or N693.5 per day, they are living a poverty-stricken life.
With the high rate of poverty and the recognition of Nigeria as 137th among 191 countries with a GDP of 6,098 in dollars by Global Finance, in its ranking of “The World’s Richest and Poorest 2019”, it is an expected norm that criminal acts and several other social vices would be prevalent.
Nigeria presently suffering an incredibly high rate of social vice, criminality, with an increased hike in internet fraud, popularly called ‘Yahoo Yahoo’, which can be arguably said to be caused by the high rate of poverty in the nation.
The increased social vice in the nation is by and large done mostly by young adults between the ages 18-35, seeking comfort, bread and greener pasture for themselves or their loved ones as the population of young people estimates at about one-third of the nation’s population, totalling at about 50 million, according to ‘Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health in Nigeria’ publication 2019.
Aside from the ravaging extreme poverty in the nation, Joblessness or not been gainfully employed has now also become a thing and a force that has eaten deep into the nation’s fabric, which cumulatively has led to the high rate of criminal activities in the nation.
In its quest to cleanse the country of diverse crimes and criminal activities, the body embodied with the responsibility, which includes the Nigeria Police, (NPF), Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practise Commission, (ICPC), and other crime-fighting agencies, have to a large extent expend within their capacity to clamp down indiscriminate practises and criminal acts.
This has led to the arrest of a lot of Nigerians especially the young ones, making the prison to be populated with inmates who are already found guilty according to the verdicts of the court. But in a surprising or rather alarming state, is the percentage of the inmate that is awaiting trial still behind bars not knowing their fate.
The law must be allowed to take just course before unlawfully reprimanding of suspects in the world beyond the reach of family, loved ones and of the society.
Lamenting over the disturbing figures of unlawfully detained suspects behind bars which were reported to be about 70% of people remained in prison, the Attorney General Of The Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Salami (SAN), in a news report by This Day News said;
“It was distressing to note that many of the released inmates were aged between 18 and 25 and were convicted of crimes including stealing onions to stealing mobile/television sets.
“Despite some fines being as low as between N4,000 and 20,000, these young men could not afford to pay same and therefore languished in prison where they mixed with violent offenders,” he said.
“Indeed, it has already become very clear from deliberations during the previous prison visit that we as a nation cannot continue to overlook the need for non-custodial measures.
“Such measures, including community service orders and probation, are clearly provided for in the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and it is heartwarming to note that Kebbi State Justice Reform Team is working towards adoption of the Act in the state,” he added.
Despite his lamentation, the nation still harbours not just unlawfully detained prisoners but petty crimes that those not need the hearing of a standard court but because there are no non-custodian measures, it has made those locked up fateless in the hands of the jailer.
A disturbing publication statistics by World Prison Brief (WBF) in conjunction with the Institute For Criminal Policy Research (ICPR) and the Birkbeck University Of London listed the number of Pre-trial/ remand prison population to be 47, 759, this year 2019, against a total number of about 71,522.
Would it be blamed on the government nonchalant attitude towards enforcing a system that disallows unlawful detention of arrested suspect or the security agencies tasked with the responsibility of perpetrating crime that is consciously taking advantage of the voiceless Nigerians to usurp punishment on them?
Saddening that question might remain unanswered till Nigerians know their right and when it is violated.
In a horrible event this year, the renowned human right activist lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) in a news report by Sahara Reporters writes the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, demanding the prosecution of naval officers for the unlawful detention and torture of 15 Nigerians citizens.
Here’s the full statement, emailed to Sahara Reporters;
“Sometime in September 2018, the Nigerian Navy arrested 15 Nigerian citizens including Group Captain Dada Labinjo, Lt. Commander Sherifat Ibe Lambert (also known as Mrs Bola Labinjo) and Benjamin Gold for an undisclosed offence. The detainees were immediately dumped in a military detention facility at Apapa in Lagos.
In order to legalise the arrest and detention of the detainees, the Naval Authorities obtained a remand warrant from a Magistrate Court sitting at Apapa. But as the detainees who were incarcerated for over 3 months were not charged with any criminal offence the Magistrate Court reviewed their case on January 7, 2019, and ordered the Naval Authorities to release them from illegal custody forthwith.
But in utter contempt of the valid order of the Magistrate Court, the Authorities of the Nigerian Navy transferred the detainees to another military detention facility in Abuja. Following the application by Lt. Commander Bola Labinjo filed for the enforcement of her fundamental right to personal liberty the Federal High Court directed the Naval Authorities to release her from illegal custody.
But the valid order of the Federal High Court has equally been ignored by the Naval Authorities without any legal justification. Even though the civilians among the detainees are not subject to service law, the Naval Authorities have continued to detain them in military detention facilities.
As if that is not enough, the detainees have been denied access to their family members, medical doctors and lawyers. Furthermore, the fundamental right of the detainees to dignity has been violated, as they are being held incommunicado in solitary confinement while they are subjected to physical, mental and psychological torture in total contravention of section 3(2) of the Anti Torture Act, 2017 which provides that “secret detention places, solitary confinement, incommunicado or other similar forms of detention where torture is carried out are prohibited.”
As the prolonged incarceration of the detainees cannot be justified under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended or the Armed Forces Act they should be released from custody or arraigned before a competent court of law if there is reasonable suspicion that they have committed any criminal offence whatsoever.
However, to curb the growing culture of official impunity in the country we are compelled to call on the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami SAN to charge the naval personnel responsible for the violations of the fundamental rights of the detainees with contempt of court and acts of torture under the Criminal Code Act and the Anti Torture Act”.
Ignorance of the law they say does not make you immune to the penalties of bridging it, also lack of knowledge in knowing when you are unlawfully arrested and detained might deprive you the will of taking your stand against it.
To curb such menace and also to hold the security agencies accountable to the dictates of the rule of law, Find Lawyer in its publication ‘Unlawful Detention’ in the list stated below gave a complete guide on when you are unlawfully arrested and detained;
WATCH PRISON WHERE INMATE LIVE LIKE KINGS;
1. Failure to inform a person of the grounds of his/her arrest; Any arrest did without informing the person involve, the reasons for their arrest is an unlawful arrest with an exception only on persons or people that are caught in the acts or who escaped from prison.
2. Obtaining Confession By Means Of Force; The law those not give permission for any suspect to be assaulted, harassed or tortured in police custody to make confessional statements, except if the police gained it lawfully, voluntarily from the arrestee.
3. Arresting Someone Else For The Crime Of Another; It is unlawful to arrest another person for the crime of another, the police force usually does this in a bit to compel the real perpetrator(s) of the crime to show up. Like arresting the wife for the crime of the husband. Criminal offences are not transferable.
4. Detaining a Suspect For More Than 48 Hours; It is not without the power bounds of the Nigeria police to detain a suspect for more than 24 hours, it’s only the court who has the capacity to determine if a suspect would stay in custody for more than 48 hours according to the provision of section 35(5) of the 1999 Nigeria Constitution (As Amended) and section 483 of the criminal procedure Act and section 42 of the criminal procedure Code.
5. Excessive Use Of Force During Arrest; If the person been arrested does not resist nor tries to run away during arrest then, there is no need to use force on the person. It is illegal.
6. Preventing A Suspect From Contacting Their Lawyer; Knowing that a suspect might unknowingly implicate themselves, often times they interrogate the suspect while inhibiting them from [having access to their lawyer. It is unlawful.
7. Charging Suspect For Bail; Bail is simply the temporary release of an accused person awaiting trial, sometimes on account that some amount of money has been lodged to guarantee the appearance of the person in court and should be returned back to the person after the conclusion of the investigation.
Bail if Free!
Upon knowing when you are unlawfully arrested or detained, then what do you do?
In “this article written by Barr. EdoAbasi Udo. (View the original article at http://lexartifexllp.com/police-arrest/”) , he gave the lawful rights to be taken by citizens that are unlawfully arrested or detained before they are reprimand to prison;
Once nab by a security agent;
Don’t run, it will raise suspicion
> Identify Yourself
> Ask to know reasons for the arrest or detention.
> Demand an arrest warrant duly signed by a Magistrate or a senior Police Officer, if you’ve been arrested at a crime scene as an arrest carried out without arrest warrant is illegal.
> Don’t engage in a heated argument with the security agencies.
Understand that you have the right to remain silent and to ask to see a lawyer.
> Try to memorise the Name of the officer, Badge number and Patrol number of the police vehicle.
> If they are on mufti, ask the arrestors to identify themselves
> If you are wounded or assaulted by the security agencies, take photographs of the wounds and demand for First Aid.
> Try to identify witness at the crime scene of the arrest.
> Reach out to family, friends and your lawyer at the place of detention.
> Refuse to give, sign or write any information until the arrival of your lawyer.
> Understand that you are presumed innocent until the court of law proves contrary.
> If the security agencies request to search your house/office, demand a search warrant signed by a Magistrate or senior police officer.
> Involve a lawyer.
Your lawyer can then take the rest from here, to see that you don’t end up in prison for crimes that you are innocent of or that aren’t worth you imprisoned.
Now that you know your rights, tell someone.
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