Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has written a letter to the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, requesting the release of 74 persons, who have remained in prison custody despite qualifying for the amnesty being granted to some inmates due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In three separate letters sent to Aregbesola, Falana said most of the soldiers, who were convicted and had served more than 75 per cent of their time, had remained in custody.
He said 66 of them were convicted soldiers being held at the Kirikiri Maximum Correctional Centre, Apapa, Lagos, while eight others were convicted for drug trafficking in Thailand.
About 12 of the soldiers were convicted on the same case while 54 others had a separate case.
He identified the 12 as Yusuf Shuaibu, Jasper Braidolor, David Musa, Friday Onuh, Igono Emmanuel, Stephen Clement, Andrew Ngbede, Nurudeen Ahmed, Allan Linus, Ifeanyi Alukhagbe, Amadi Chukwudi and Alao Samue
The activist explained that they were brought before a general court-martial with six counts of committing mutiny, criminal conspiracy to commit mutiny, attempted murder, disobedience to particular orders, insubordinate behaviour contrary to and punishable under the law, and false accusation.
At the end of the trial, they were convicted and sentenced to death.
Falana said upon a review of the case, the confirming authority upheld the conviction, but commuted the death sentence to 10 years imprisonment.
He wrote, “Since our clients are entitled to remission of the 10-year jail term, they are required to spend a total of 80 months in prison custody. From September 16, 2014 to April 20, 2020, our clients have spent over 67 months in custody.
“In exercise of the powers of prerogative of mercy under Section 175 of the Constitution, President Muhammadu Buhari has granted amnesty to certain categories of convicted inmates, including those who have spent 75 per cent of their sentence after remission.
“Having been in custody for 67 months out of the prison term of 80 months, you will agree with us that our clients have spent more than 75 per cent of their 10-year imprisonment.”
In a separate letter, Falana called for the release of the 54 convicted soldiers who are currently in custody at the Kirikiri Maximum Correctional Centre, Apapa, Lagos.
He identified some them as Andrew Ogolekwu, Saturday Efe, Henry Shuaibu, James Maifida, Ndubuisi Sebastine, Dauda Dalhatu, Kasega Aoso, Nwonu Friday, Joshua Friday, Olayode Oluwasegun, Tijani Jimoh, Kabiru Abubakar, Mamuda Sywasan and James Emmanuel.
“Having been in custody for 63 months out of the prison term of 80 months, you will agree with us that our clients have spent more than 75 per cent of their 10-year imprisonment. Alternatively, since our clients are due to be released next year, they have less than three years to complete their 10-year term of imprisonment.
“They are therefore qualified for the Presidential amnesty, having served a substantial term of their sentence,” Falana said.
In a related development, Falana called on the Federal Government to grant amnesty, to eight inmates who were convicted for drug trafficking in Thailand between 1998 and 2006 and deported to Nigeria.
The senior advocate identified the convicts as Wasiu Amusan, Napoleon Mba, Gloria Ogbonna, Henry Azukaeme, Kennedy Tanya, Yakubu Mohammed, Okpala Chibuike and Obi Titus, who are all in Kirikiri correctional centre.