By Ibrahim Jibril Ikowe
The courts resumed in Nigeria on Tuesday to a heavy load of work after two months of strike organized by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria(JUSUN).
The Samuel Ilori Magistrate Courts at Ogba, Lagos was particularly so congested as suspects that had stayed more than two months in police detentions were brought to court by the police from different police stations.
These sets of suspects compete with the ones brought in from Correctional Centers by Correctional Officers from Ikoyi, and Kirikiri Correctional Centers. In fact the ones brought in from police stations appeared to be more.
A Lagosian, Alhaji Usman Muhammad who had come to the to secure the bail of a member of his family lamented on the period his ward spent in police cell. He said that those who were brought to court today ought to have been arraigned, and bailed before now. “The strike made it impossible. It is a very bad experience, staying behind the bars for all these days of strike, it is not easy”, he said.
Most of the policemen brought their suspects in Toyota sienna cars. There was no single police van seen in the court premises. However, the correctional centers brought in so many suspects.
A look at the suspects brought to court revealed their malnourished state. It is apparent that they had seen rough times.
One lawyer who hanged around the suspects commented that those who are outside have not eaten well, talkless of those in detention. “You can’t even thank the police for feeding these people during all this long strike!
However, those who had their businesses around the court were full of excitement at the reopening of the courts. For them, their means of livelihood went down with the strike as most of them said they found it difficult to even feed members of their families. “This place was like a ghost town in the last two months”, said a Business Center operator who prefers to remain anonymous. Part of his operations is to type and photocopy documents. “This street was like a cemetery. No sales, no photocopy, all those court documents that are normally photocopy in my shop stopped, no money to feed my family, ah my brother it was tough. But today we thank God! Look at me drinking coke, and enjoying myself because today is a good day”, he rejoiced.
Two defendants, Uba Musah, and Wasiu Sani gain their freedom. They had been in detention at a correctional center for over a year now for cable theft. They were the lucky ones.