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Six Convicts Transferred From Thailand Released From Kirikiri

Six convicts transferred from Thailand to Nigeria were, on Saturday, released from the Kirikiri correctional centre.

In 2012, the Thailand government had transferred eight Nigerians, who were convicted in the Asian country for drug-related offences from 1998 to 2006, to complete their jail terms at the Kirikiri maximum correctional centre.

The convicts are Wasiu Amusan, Napoleon Marvelous Mba, Gloria Ogbonna, Henry Azukaeme, Kennedy Tanya, Yakubu Yahuza Mohammed, Okpala Kingsley Chibuike and Obi Titus.

Their transfer to Nigeria was facilitated through the prison exchange treaty between Thailand and the federal government.

The convicts were, however, said to have been granted amnesty under the Thai Royal Amnesty Decree in 2016, but were not released from custody by the prison authorities.

In a statement on Sunday, Femi Falana, human rights lawyer and counsel to the convicts, said six of the inmates have been released, while efforts are in place to secure the release of the remaining two.

“On July 2, 2020, our law firm requested the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Godfrey Onyeama, to direct the Nigerian embassy in Thailand to furnish us with the warrant for the release of the convicts. The Minister did and the Embassy procured and sent 6 warrants to Nigeria. The warrants were promptly forwarded to us,” Falana said.

“On August 25, we wrote to the Honourable Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, urging him to direct the Kirikiri Maximum Correctional Centre to release the convicts from custody. As the request was subjected to bureaucratic hiccup, we were compelled to file 6 applications at the federal high court for the immediate and unconstitutional release of the convicts.

“Even though the case has been adjourned to January 25, 2021 for definite hearing, the Minister of Interior granted our request last week for the release of the convicts. Accordingly, they were released on December 26, 2020. We are pursuing the case of the remaining two convicts. It is unfortunate that the convicts have been detained illegally since 2017 when the Thai King granted them amnesty.”

The senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) also cited examples of other inmates said to have been illegally remanded in correctional centres.

“A few months ago, we also secured the release of an awaiting trial inmate who was charged with armed robbery and abandoned in the same Correctional Centre. The legal advice rendered by the Attorney-General of Lagos State to the effect that he had no case to answer, received by the police 6 years earlier, was not transmitted to the Magistrate Court that had remanded him in prison custody,” he said.

“For instance, 65 convicted soldiers who have met the conditions outlined in the Presidential Amnesty granted to certain categories of prison inmates in April 2020 are still languishing in prison custody. They were 66 of them but one of has been released from prison custody. No reason has been adduced by the prison authorities for not releasing the others.”

Falana also called for a comprehensive audit of all inmates in the country’s correctional centres.

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