The Lagos State Director of Legal Aid Council (LACON), Mrs Iyabo Temitope Akingbade in conjunction with the chairman, Ikorodu branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Bayo Akinlade has urged the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Kazeem Alogba to stop the remand of defendants in prison custody pending the end of the scourge of corona virus in Nigeria.
Corona virus otherwise called COVID 19 has reached pandemic levels affecting virtually all countries in the world, Nigeria inclusive. In Lagos State alone, 12 persons have tested positive to the virus.
Mrs Akingbade made made a similar call on the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of the state, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo SAN.
The LACON chief made her observation to Mr Akinlade after her recent routine visit to the Ikoyi Correctional Center.
The capacity of the Ikoyi Correctional Center is for 800 inmates but currently has about 3119 inmates. The LACON State Director noted that “…needless to say that the situation at the Kirikiri and Badagry Centers are not different from this and given the inadequacies in water, sanitary, medical facilities and the unhealthy close contacts at these correctional centers due to congestion, all that is required to get these high population of Nigerians infected with the Corona virus is to send just one person who has contacted the virus to each of this centers, as an offshoot of overnight cases and that is the beginning of another problem”.
Akinlade agreed, noting that the inmates are human beings and are entitled to right to life especially if they have not been sentenced to death.
The two personalities therefore join other stakeholders in calling on the Chief Judge of Lagos as well as the Hon AG of Lagos to consider these views.
Akinlade noted that the Lagos State Judiciary in its body language is taking several precautions regarding containing the spread of the virus and plans to embark on a massive prison decongestion initiative that will see the release of most awaiting trial inmates who have spent at least two years in detention.
The Ikorodu Chair also acknowledged the efforts of the office of the DPP through its filtering system which is very strict about criminal charges being brought to court as a few charges have been rejected so far especially considering the congestion in the prisons
He therefore lend his voice to the calls being made to stop all remand until the Corona Virus is contained.
Mrs Akingbade passionately noted…. “The inmates also need to be protected from Corona virus. To this end, there is need to stop remanding defendants of overnight cases pending perfection of bail for 1 or 2 months pending when we see the end of Corona virus;
If overnight cases are taken, the condition for bail must be such that the defendant can go back home same day, where the defendant has no surety, he should be granted bail on self recognizance without deposit of any bail sum in order to ensure that fresh defendants do not go in to endanger the lives of the high population we have at the correctional centers. An where a defendant pleads guilty on arraignment, he should be given non custodian sentence”, she concluded.