Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has asked the Federal High Court in Lagos to compel President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly to provide adequate security equipment across prisons in the country.
The suit comes on the heels of a terrorist attack at the Kuje Correctional Centre in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja, in July.
During the invasion by the terrorists, over 600 inmates include 64 Boko Haram terrorists were freed.
To forestall future invasion of prisons, Mr Falana who joined the Controller-General of the Nigerian Correctional Centre as a defendant, urged the court to declare that it is the Nigerian government’s constitutional responsibility to “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.”
Citing Section 28 (1) of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, Mr Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), 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 centres.”
The plaintiff also urged the court to determine “whether the defendants are not under a legal obligation to establish and maintain a fully equipped armed squad, intelligence and at correctional centres in line with Section 28 (2) of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act.”
“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.”
In an affidavit deposed to by Ayodele Aribisala, a lawyer in Mr 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.
“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.
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“…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,” court filings disclosed.
In the suit filed on 23 August, the plaintiff begged the court to compel the Federal Government to “establish and maintain a fully equipped armed squad, intelligence and investigation unit to enhance security, surveillance, monitoring, intelligence gathering and protection.”
Mr Falana further urged the court to make an order “directing the defendants to comply fully with the provisions of Section 28 (1), (2) & (3) of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act.”
He argued that “the failure of the defendants to ensure compliance with Section 28 (1), (2) & (3) the Nigerian Correctional Service Act 2019 does not only impact negatively on the rights and security of members of the general public but also the security of the inmates as well.”
The plaintiff noted that the court has the “powers to compel the performance of a public duty where there is a remiss by a public officer.”
The suit has not been assigned to a judge for adjudication.
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