Chief Justices can release prison inmates | Falana insists

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has maintained that the Chief Justice of Nigeria and chief judges have the power release any inmate from prison.

Falana had earlier argued with another senior lawyer, Mr. Sebastine Hon (SAN) on the matter.

Hon had disagreed over the constitutional rightness or otherwise of the administrative powers of the CJN and state chief judges to order the release of unlawfully detained prison inmates.

In a statement on Friday, Falana described Hon’s submission as ‘shaky’.

Falana said the prisoners merely released from illegal prison custody, stating that they can be rearrested and prosecuted by the government.

He added that other common law countries are applying similar laws to decongest their prisons.

The statement partly read, “Just last month, the Principal Judge of the High Courts of Uganda, Justice Yorokamu Bamwine, directed all High Court judges and magistrates to release all prisoners who have overstayed on remand without trial.

“From the foregoing, our Chief Judges are on terra firma in exercising their powers under the Criminal Justice (Release from custody)(Special Provisions) Act in ordering the release of under trial prisoners during prison visits.

“Apart from the decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of Iloegbunam v Iloegbunam supra which has upheld the validity of the Act, section 8 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 has imposed a duty on Chief Judges to appoint high court judges and magistrates to visit detention centres once a month with a view to ensuring that the indigent under trial prisoners are not detained without legal justification in line with paragraph 55 of the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners which have been adopted by Nigeria.”


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