Adegboruwa condemns refusal to admit inmates into custody, asks Aregbesola to intervene

Lagos based lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), on Thursday condemned the authority of the Nigerian Correctional Service for refusing to admit new defendants into the Custodial Centres, as part of precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

It would be recalled that in order to curb the spread of Covid-19 among inmates in custodial centres, the management of the correctional service had said they will not allow new inmates into the centres so as not to expose the inmates to the risk of infection considering the inability to maintain social distancing in the centres.

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However, Adegboruwa has condemned the order given by the Comptroller-General of the Correctional Centres, to his officers not to admit new defendants into the Correctional Centres, adding that this decision has very grave implications for the rule of law and the administration of justice in Nigeria.

According to him, reports across the country that defendants who are arraigned in court for very serious capital offences are being denied admission into custody at the Correctional Centres, in compliance with the executive order is in violation of the order of various courts for their remand, pending trial.

“The order of the court for the remand of a defendant awaiting trial is made in the exercise of the judicial powers conferred upon the court by the constitution, especially section 6 (6)(b) thereof. It, therefore, amounts to contempt of court for any person, however highly placed, to refuse to obey the order of a court of law.

“Under and by virtue of section 287 of the constitution, all persons in Nigeria, exercising legislative, judicial and executive powers, are obliged to ensure compliance with the order of all courts. To that extent, it is illegal and unconstitutional for the CGCC, to direct officers under him to willfully disobey lawful orders made by any court. The dangers that the illegal order of the CGCC pose to the due administration of justice are many; likelihood of escape by defendants who have capital offences to deal with, tampering with witnesses and also compromising evidence. Where does the CCGC expect the courts to keep persons who are newly sentenced and convicted, for instance?” Adegboruwa asked.

He further claimed that the CGCC cannot rely on the Correctional Services Act to exercise powers in conflict with the authority of a court of law duly established under the Constitution. It is an aberration that should not be allowed to fester.

“I, therefore, call upon the Honourable Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, to direct the CGCC to ensure compliance with all orders of the court in respect of defendants awaiting trial and those already convicted by the court. Covid-19 should not be an excuse to disobey court orders,” he concluded.

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NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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