Convicted rich criminals pay young people to serve their jail terms, says Falana
By Bisi Oluwole
When some rich men are convicted in Nigeria, they connive with prison officials who arrange young men paid to serve the jail terms of the convicts, renown lawyer Mr Femi Falana, (SAN) has said.
He said in some cases, when convicted, the criminals simply bribe the prison wardens after which the convicts walk home free.
The former President West African Bar Association, (WABA) said the rich convicts then walk free on the streets while paid mercenaries serve their jail terms.
He spoke on Thursday at a conference with the them “Forget the past, forfeit the future: A nation seceding from humanity”
Falana laments insecurity in the country saying the country is at war.
The human rights lawyer said the swap deal of convicted rich people and hired fake prisoners is with the connivance of officials of Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) allow criminals.
He said the scam is to help the rich escape court verdicts by getting young men who will serve jail terms for criminals.
Falana revealed that criminals that have been convicted of a crime are allowed to walk freely on the streets after warders connive with convicts to pay youths willing to serve jail terms on behalf of criminals.
He said when convicted, the rich prisoners will not even get to Kirikiri prison. Few meters away they would exchange and transfer the prison terms to hired, paid boys most of who are not employed.
Falana said “This will surprise you, when a judge pronounces a jail term, sir, before getting to Kirikiri, at Mile 2, warders have an arrangement whereby some prepared young persons will replace the convict. That is the person that will enter the prison, he’s paid.
“The second one, in the court premises, there’s a syndicate by the defence counsel, prosecutors, warders and court clerks. Once the judge turns his back, the convict will arrange and pay them and the convict will walk back home.
“There’s a study in Lagos, I think 2005/2006, 199 people sentenced for drug trafficking, none of them made it to the prison. It’s a very serious crisis we are facing. If you want to discuss the security of our country, it goes beyond calling for mercenaries.”
Falana lamented that Nigeria is at war but those in power,l but the government fails to admit the tragedy.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami he said failed to name the 400 financiers of terrorists announced since May 2021.
Falana said said the 800 suspected terrorists Malami stated should have been tried.
“Our country is at war, but whether the people in government are aware of this, the enormity of the crisis is another. For instance, the president has refused, for some inexplicable reason, to declare a state of emergency in those states. That’s what the law says; Section 305, the President shall declare a state of emergency.
“He is supposed to go to the National Assembly for endorsement so that extraordinary measures can be taken to restore law and order. For reasons best known to the President, he has not done that, even to rebrand bandits as terrorists, was a problem.
“In May last year, the AGF, Malami announced that they have arrested 400 sponsors of Boko Haram but because the staff of judiciary are on strike, once the strike is over, they will be on trial. Two weeks later, he also announced the arrest of 800 Boko Haram suspects who were to be put on trial, that was about a year ago.
“None of them has been put on trial. So if the sponsors of Boko Haram are walking free, perhaps to continue to fund terrorism, we must know the 400 sponsors of terrorism, they must be put on trial. Money has been appropriated by the National Assembly to try arrested terror suspects, but the regime for reasons best known to the people in government is not doing this.
“It is about what has happened to the money budgeted for the defence of our country, what has happened to the arrested Boko Haram sponsors? Those are the kind of questions the likes of (Nasir) El-Rufai (Kaduna State governor) should be asking, not diverting our attention.
“Lagos is the largest city in the world without CCTV cameras, if we had CCTV cameras all over the place, what happened to that lady inside the BRT bus wouldn’t have happened.
“Crime happens everywhere because we don’t have gadgets. At our airports, these guys (bandits) can launch attacks and no one knows who they are. If there is a killing anywhere, people are moving there to touch whatever they can lay hands on, whereas what is done is to remove everyone from there so that taking fingerprints will be enough for investigation.”