Human rights lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria Femi Falana has sued President Muhammadu Buhari over his administration’s failure to provide monitoring devices, close circuit televisions (CCTVs) and other instruments of restraint at correctional centres across the country.
Also joined as defendants in the suit are the National Assembly and the Controller General of the Nigerian Correctional Service. The lawsuit relied on Section 28 (1) of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act.
According to the court documents, the failure of the Buhari-led government to provide adequate security equipment was responsible for the attack on Kuje Correctional Centre in Abuja, the nation’s capital by members of the Islamic State-backed faction of Boko Haram, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), formerly known as Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihād.
It will be recalled that ISWAP on July 5, 2022, attacked the facility, releasing hundreds of inmates, including terrorists, while some of the escapees have been recaptured, some have returned voluntarily; however, many of them are still at large.
“That in July 2022, the Kuje Correctional Centre, F.C.T Abuja was attacked by terrorists who released over 600 inmates including 64 Boko Haram terrorists,” part of the court document read.
“That upon investigations into the terrible attack, it was discovered that the correctional facility was not equipped with close circuit television and other security monitoring devices.
“That the failure of the Federal Government to provide these security equipment amounts to a contravention of the provisions of Section 28 (1), (2) & (3)the Nigerian Correctional Service Act.
“The Plaintiff having observed that this provision is not being complied with by the Defendants, has filed this Originating Summons seeking the reliefs set out herein.”
Falana also asked the court to determine whether “the Defendants are not under a legal obligation to provide monitoring devices, close circuit television and other instruments of restraint at correctional centers in line with Section 28 (1) of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act.
“WHETHER the Defendants are not under a legal obligation to establish and maintain a fully equipped armed squad, intelligence and at correctional centers in line with Section 28 (2) of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act.”
In an affidavit deposed to by Ayodele Aribisala, a lawyer in Falana’s law firm, the suit said the Controller General of the Nigerian Correctional Service acknowledged the porous nature of security arrangement across the detention centres.
It read, “That the 1st Defendant is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
“The 2nd Defendant is the National Assembly constitutionally vested with lawmaking, representation and oversight function amongst others.
“The 3rd Defendant is the Controller-General of Correctional Service appointed by the 1st Defendant and has the power of general superintendence of the Correctional center including but not limited to the safety and humane custody of inmates.
“That I know as a fact that the Plaintiff has been involved in the defence and promotion of human rights in Africa for over three decades.
“That he assists appropriate and lawful agencies in maintaining law and order in the country.
“That on the 17th day of July 2022, at about 12:00 noon at our office situate at No. 25, Adekunle Fajuyi Way, Ikeja GRA, Lagos, I was informed by the Plaintiff in this matter, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN of the following facts, which I verily believed and still do believe, to wit: i. That Section 28 (1), (2) & (3) of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act provides:
“There shall be provide monitoring devices to protect, control and safeguard correctional activities, including observatory towers, double perimeter walls, close circuit television, body scanners, e-monitoring devices, electrically activated alarm systems and other instruments of restraint.
“The Correctional Service shall establish and maintain a fully equipped armed squad, intelligence and investigation unit to enhance security, surveillance, monitoring, intelligence gathering and protection.
“In deploying the facilities under subsection (1), priority shall be given to the security requirements of maximum security custodial centers.”
“That in July 2022, the Kuje Correctional Centre was attacked by terrorists who released over 600 inmates including 64 boko haram terrorists.
“That upon investigations into the uncanny and terrible attack, it was discovered that the correctional facility was not equipped with close circuit televisions and other security monitoring devices that it ought to have been equipped with.
“That the 3rd Defendant issued a statement to the effect that the country’s prisons are not fortified enough to withstand the kind of attacks they have been subjected to in recent times. (Attached herewith and marked exhibit A is a copy of the newspaper report).
“That the failure of the Federal Government to provide these security equipment amounts to a contravention of the provisions of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act 2019.
“That this suit seeks to challenge the contravention and non-compliance of the above provision of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act by the Defendants. That the Defendants would not be prejudiced by the grant of the reliefs sought in this suit.”