by Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
A legal practitioner, Barrister Obiyo E. Ugoamadi, has written a strong worded petition against authorities of Kaduna Correctional Centre for what has been described as “obnoxious conditions” set for lawyers to access client inmates in the centre, popularly known as Convict Prison.
The petition, dated 25th November, 2020, and signed by Barr. Ugoamadi of O.E. Ugoamadi and Co. (Okpuala Chambers) Kaduna was addressed to the Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Kaduna Office.
The petitioner stated that the condition set for lawyers visiting their clients at the Kaduna custodial centre is a clear case of denial of inmates’ rights to access their lawyers.
He said a notice posted on the lawyers’ platform on 11th November, 2020, by one Assistant Superintendent Comptroller (ASC) of Correctional Centre, AM Zain, directed that lawyers wishing to see their clients must pass ‘through the eye of the needle’ before allowed to see them.
In the notice letter authored by ASC Zain, Kaduna Custodial Centre stated, among other things, that “lawyers’ visitation and interviews has resumed and, that, legal practitioner can apply to interview their clients” but stressed that “their application must be forwarded, at least, 24 hours before visitation.”
The officer in-charge of the custodial centre in the notice also stated that “application would only be granted in respect of one case regardless of the number of inmates answering the case.”
Other conditions set are that, “a lawyer, who wants to interview more than one client must apply separately for each, except case inmate; COVID-19 protocol must be observed strictly, adding that above requirements must be complied with for successful interview.”
According to the petitioner (Barrister Ugoamadi), the process or hurdles are disparaging and demeaning 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 further stated that three barriers are great impediment to smooth administration of justice, saying authorities of Kaduna Prison should come out openly and tell Nigeria that lawyers should stop coming to the centre and, that, any unfortunate Nigerian taken to the centre should forget about he’s or her rights to counsels.
Condition number 5, according the petitioner, is a display of cross administration of justice, and wondered what happened when a co-defendant made serious allegation against the other, among other legal implications.