Nigeria Lawyer raises alarm over conditions set to access client inmates in kaduna prison

By Achudu Gabriel, kaduna

Fresh alarms has been raised over the new conditions set for accessing client inmates in Kaduna correctional centre (Convict prison) by lawyer who described the action as stressful, obnoxious and dangerous.
The authorities of Kaduna correctional centre had recently set eight conditions that must be met as requirements for lawyers seeking for interviews with clients inmates in its centre.

An Assistant Supretendent Controller (ASC) of kaduna correctional centre, Abubakar M. Zain, in a letter of notice posted to lawyers platform, dated 11th November 2020, stated that henceforth a valid sealed and signed written application by legal practitioners shall be addressed to deputy controller medium security custodial of kaduna centre, for visitation.

The notice stated that applications shall be forwarded at least 24 hours before visitation, and shall only be granted in respect of one case regardless of the number of inmates answering the case.

It also stated that a lawyer wishing to interview more than one client shall apply separately for each, except case mates, adding
that the above requirements must be complied with, and covid-19 observed, for successful interview.

But reacting to the notice in a protest letter addressed to the Executive Secretary, national human rights commission (NHRC) Kaduna, a legal practitioner Barr. Obiyo E. Ugoamadi of O E Ugoamadi and Co. (Okpuala Chambers) Kaduna, described the conditions as Obnoxious.

In the petition letter dated 25th November 2020, Barr. Ugoamadi stated that the implications of the condition is that lawyers would waited for about three days or more before attended to, saying it’s expensive and discouraging for outside jurisdiction lawyers from Kano, Jos, and even Lagos states.
According to him, condition number 5 is a display of crass ignorant administration of Justice, wondering what happened if a co-defendant made a serious allegation against the others, “That is against the relevant provision of Evidence Act, Cap, E. 14.

Barr Ugoamadi noted that “The Officer who posted the notice has never observed or conducted a criminal trial from arrangements to judgement”, adding that “The centre is abolishing pre-trial briefing”, as counsel could no longer dash to centre to brief inmates of their case the next day.

While he described the action as insult and demeaning to lawyers visiting the centre, Ugoamadi added that the notice is “an empty ego trip by the officers of the centre.

Barr. Ugoamadi noted that the correctional centre officers does not stated what its stands to lost especially in condition number 6, even as he drew the attention of the relevant authorities to the conditions on whether the conditions are obtained nationwide or internationally.

The lawyer also described the process and hurdles as disparaging and deamining to lawyers who intend to render services to their clients inmates at the center.

He state that “Out of the eight conditions, numbers 4 to 6 are subtle denial of lawyers access to the centre and denial of inmates rights to access their counsel as provided by section 36 of the 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria as amended.
The petitioner lamented that three barriers were great impediment to smooth administration of Justice, saying authorities of Kaduna prison should come out openly and “tells Nigeria that lawyers should stop coming to the centre, that any unfortunate Nigerians taken to the centre should forget about he’s or her rights to counsel. End

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