Malami: Prisoners’ Consent Required under Nigeria-Macao Transfer Agreement

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Tobi Soniyi

Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, has said that the consent of prisoners will be obtained before they are brought to serve their sentences in Nigeria under an agreement for the transfer of sentenced persons between Nigeria and the Government of the Macao, a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, which Nigeria ratified last week.

Providing details of the agreement Friday, Malami said Nigeria would derive immense benefit from the agreement.

A statement by Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, quoted Malami as saying that the ratification of the agreement would enhance the image of the country as responsive to the need of its citizens, and guarantee the political and constitutional rights of Nigerians.

The minister said, “The objective of the agreement was to enable the sentenced persons to return to their places of origin for the continuation of their sentences where language or cultural barriers are non-existent, and friends and relatives pay regular visits, which could facilitate and enhance their rehabilitation.”

The instrument of ratification of the agreement for the President’s signature was prepared by Malami as approved and directed by President Muhamamdu Buhari pursuant to the Federal Executive Council’s memorandum presented in 2018.
Malami said with the agreement, persons in the Correctional Service Centres of both countries who wished to serve their sentences in their home countries would be enabled to do so.

He disclosed that Nigeria signed the agreement with Macao on June 1, 2018, pointing out that Article 17(1) of the agreement provides that each party shall notify the other in writing upon completion of the required internal procedure.

Malami disclosed that the transfer of sentenced persons under the agreement was subject to the consent of the transferring and receiving parties and the sentenced person(s). He added that where, in view of age or physical or mental condition,
either party considered it necessary, the sentenced person’s consent might be given by a person entitled to act on his behalf.

Malami reiterated that Article 12 of the agreement indicated that the cost of the transfer and transportation of sentenced persons should be borne by the transferring parties until the time of the delivering of the sentenced persons to the jurisdiction of the receiving party. He stated that the parties would facilitate the transfer of property, assets, and equity instrument of a sentenced person that were not confiscated by law.

The minister added that the parties were also to ensure that the sentenced persons were aware of their property rights and guarantee access to legal counsel and aid.

Buhari had on Friday given effect to the agreement after signing the instrument of ratification of the Agreement on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons between Nigeria and the Government of the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.