Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana SAN has petitioned the Nigerian Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola over six prisoners repartriated from Thailand to continue their sentence in Nigeria, but were not released after they have completed their prison terms.
The prisoners, Azukaeme Henry Titus, George Chibuike Onyeama, Kennedy Tanya, Yakubu Yahuza Mohammed, Mrs Gloria Ogbonna a.k.a Chola Mulenga, and Wasiu Amusan a.k.a John Smith were sentenced to various prison terms in Thailand for drug related offences.
They were however released to the Nigerian government to complete their prison terms in Nigeria due to a Treaty of Transfer of Offenders and Cooperation in the Enforcement of Penal Sentence between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Kingdom of Thailand.
According to the terms of the treaty, Thailand as the transferer will maintain the right of royal pardon and commutation towards culprits and Nigeria as the country receiving royal pardon or commutation will proceed the action. It was due to this treaty that Thailand released the prisoners to Nigeria.
However, despite the fact that the prisoners had completed their prison terms as stipulated under the treaty, they are still being held at the Kirikiri Maximum Prisons(Now Correctional Center), Lagos.
Below is the full text of Falana’s letter to Aregbesola:
August 25, 2020
Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola,
Honourable Minister of Interior,
Ministry of Interior,
Old Federal Secretariat Complex,
Dear Ogbeni Aregbesola,
REQUEST FOR THE IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF (1) HENRY AZUKAEME TITUS (2) GEORGE CHIBUIKE ONYEAMA (3) KENNEDY TANYA (4) YAKUBU YAHUZA MOHAMMED AND (5) MRS GLORIA OGBONNA a.k.a CHOLA MULENGA AND (6) WASIU AMUSAN a.k.a JOHN SMITH FROM PRISON CUSTODY
We are Solicitors to the above named convicted prison inmates who are currently held in custody at the Kirikiri Maximum Correctional Centre, Apapa, Lagos State on whose behalf we write this letter.
Our clients were convicted in Thailand for drug related offences at various times between 1998 and 2006. They were however 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. Section 5 of the said Prison Exchange Treaty stipulates that the transferring State i.e. Thailand “shall retain exclusive jurisdiction regarding the judgments of it’s court, the sentences imposed by them and any procedures for revision, modification or cancellation of those judgments and sentences.”
Pursuant to the said Treaty our client were granted general amnesty under the Thai Royal Amnesty Decree in 2016 and 2019. But 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.
However, having obtained copies of the Royal Amnesty documents from the Government of Thailand through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we are pained to know our clients ought to have been released from prison custody at various times between 2010 and 2019.
It is evident that the Federal Government which facilitated the transfer of our clients from Thailand to Nigeria has abandoned them in the Kirikiri Maximum Correctional Centre. Thus, due to unpardonable negligence of certain public officers the Federal Government has been wasting public fund on maintaining our clients when they ought to have regained their freedom.
We are therefore compelled to draw your attention to the facts and circumstances of the conviction, sentences and the royal pardon granted to our clients which are briefly set out below:
- MR AZUKAEME HENRY EJIKEME was convicted and sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in 2006. He served 10 years and 5 months of the jail term in Thailand and has served additional 11 years in Nigeria. Pursuant to the Royal Decree of Amnesty to Detainees his sentence commuted he ought to have been released from prison custody on March 6, 2018.
- MRS. OGBONNA Nee JIGBALE GLORIA LIEOMA (a.k.a CHOLA MULENGA) was convicted and sentenced to 33 years imprisonment in 2005. She served 10 years of the prison term in Thailand and additional 12 years in Nigeria. She was granted Royal pardon pursuant to the Royal Decree of Amnesty to Detainees on 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.
- MR. OKPALA KINGSLEY CHIBUIKE (a.k.a OTENG SAMUEL) was convicted and sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in 2007 for drug related offences. He served 8 years and 5 months in Thailand and additional 11 years in Nigeria. He was granted Royal Pardon pursuant to the Thailand’s Royal Decree of Amnesty to Detainees and his sentence commuted to one- sixth of the original sentence. He ought to have been released from prison custody since April 4, 2017.
- MR. YAKUBU YAHUZA MOHAMMED was convicted and sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in 2006. He served 10 years of the jail term in Thailand and an additional 11 years custodial term in Nigeria. He was granted royal pardon pursuant to Thailand’s Royal Decree of Amnesty to Detainees and his sentence commuted to one-sixth of the original sentence. He ought to have been released from prison custody on May 3, 2019.
- MR. KENNEDY TANYA (a.k.a TANYA VICTOR KENNEDY) was convicted and sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in 2006. He was granted royal pardon pursuant to the Royal Decree of Amnesty to Detainees and his sentence commuted to one-sixth of the original sentence. He ought to have been released from prison custody on May 14, 2017.
- MR JOHN SMITH was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in Thailand in 1998. He served 10 years’ imprisonment in Thailand and an additional term of 13 years in Nigeria. By the Royal Amnesty granted him he ought to have been released from prison custody on July 29, 2010.
In view of the foregoing, we respectfully urge you to use your good offices to terminate the unlawful detention of our clients forthwith and authorize their immediate release from the Kirikiri Maximum Correctional Center, Lagos. Copies of the Amnesty documents and necessary annexures are hereby attached for your perusal and necessary action.
Whilst undertaking to provide further information which may be required in respect of this request, please accept as usual, the assurances of our highest esteem and professional regards.
MR FEMI FALANA, SAN, FCI Arb.