Falana Seeks Release of Six Prison Inmates Granted Amnesty

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Femi Falana

Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana, has urged the federal government to release six convicted prison inmates currently in the custody of the Kirikiri Maximum Correctional Centre, Lagos.

Falana said the request was made pursuant to the general amnesty granted them under the Thai Royal Amnesty Decree in 2016 and 2919.

The request was contained in a letter dated August 25, 2020, and titled “Request for the Immediate Release of Henry Azukaeme Titus, George Chibuike Onyeama, Kenedy Tanya, Yakubu Yahuza Mohammed, Mrs. Gloria Ogbonna a.k.a. Chola Mulenga; and Wasiu Amusan a.k.a. John Smith from Prison Custody” written to the Minister of Interior, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola.

Falana regretted that the federal government, which facilitated the transfer of the convicts from Thailand to Nigeria has abandoned them in the Kirikiri Maximum Correctional Centre.

He said the six prison inmates were convicted in Thailand for drug-related offenses at various times between 1998 and 2006.

According to him, they were later transferred from Thailand to the Kirikiri Maximum Correctional Centre to complete their prison terms following the Prison Exchange Treaty of 2012 between the Kingdom of Thailand and the Federal Government of Nigeria.

He said Section 5 of the said Prison Exchange Treaty stipulates that the transferring State i.e. Thailand “shall retain exclusive jurisdiction regarding the judgments of its court, the sentences imposed by them, and any procedures for revision, modification or cancellation of those judgments and sentences.”

Pursuant to the said treaty, Falana said the convicts were granted general amnesty under the Thai Royal Amnesty Decree in 2016 and 2919 but that due to undisclosed reasons, the authorities of the Nigerian Correctional Services have refused to release our clients from unlawful incarceration notwithstanding that they have been pardoned under the Thai Royal Amnesty Decree.

He said it was painful to discover that convicts were ought to have been released from prison custody at various times between 2010 and 2019 as evident in the

Royal Amnesty documents received from the government of Thailand through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Thus, due to unpardonable negligence of certain public officers the Federal Government has been wasting public funds on maintaining our clients when they ought to have regained their freedom”, he regretted.

He drew the attention of the government to the facts and circumstances of the conviction, sentences and the royal pardon granted the prisoners.

According to him, Ejikeme who was convicted and sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in 2006 had served 10 years and 5 months of the jail term in Thailand and an additional 11 years in Nigeria. Pursuant to the Royal Decree of Amnesty to Detainees his sentence commuted and ought to have been released from custody on March 6, 2018.

He said “Iieoma a.k.a Chola Mulenga sentenced to 33 years imprisonment in 2005. She served 10 years of the term in Thailand and an additional 12 years in Nigeria and was granted pardon August 3, 2005, and her jail term commuted to one-sixth of the original sentence. She ought to have been released from prison custody on February 19, 2019.”

He said Chibuike a.k.a. Oteng Samuel who was convicted and sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in 2007 for drug-related offenses had served 8 years and 5 months in Thailand and additional 11 years in Nigeria before being granted a royal pardon in line with Thailand’s Royal Decree of Amnesty and his sentence commuted to one-sixth of the original sentence. He ought to have been released from prison custody since April 4, 2017.

Mohammed was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in 2006. He served 10 years of the term in Thailand and an additional 11 years custodial term in Nigeria before the royal pardon granted him following which his sentence was commuted to one-sixth of the original sentence. He ought to have been released from prison custody on May 3, 2019.

On the other hand, Tanya a.k.a Tanya Victor Kennedy was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in 2006 and granted a royal pardon and his sentence commuted to one-sixth of the original sentence. He ought to have been released from prison custody on May 14, 2017.

Smith, he said, was sentenced to life imprisonment in Thailand in 1998 and has served 10 years in Thailand and an additional term of 13 years in Nigeria adding “by the royal amnesty granted him, he ought to have been released from prison custody on July 29, 2010.”

Falana, therefore, urged the Minister of Interior to terminate the unlawful detention of the six prisoners forthwith and authorise their immediate release from the Kirikiri Maximum Correctional Centre.