The Legal Aid Council of Nigeria has said it provided legal representation for the 101 detainees that were released from the Kirikiri medium and maximum correctional facilities in Lagos on October 7.
The Director, LACON FCT Office, Mr Abdulfattai Bakre, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Friday in Abuja.
”The detainees were not swapped with the 23 remaining Abuja-Kaduna train passengers released on October 5.
”These two incidents are mere coincidences. The process that led to the release of these detainees started in February before the train passengers were kidnapped.
“The council received a certified document from Bauchi relating to some of the inmates on April 14 and fundamental human rights enforcement application on behalf of the inmates was filed on May 18.
“The NGO filed an enforcement application for the detainees, praying for their release after years of incarceration without prosecution.
“The court, however, struck out the suit on technical grounds and held that the suit ought to have been filed separately and not together as done by the counsel. The council, therefore, as part of its mandate to provide legal representation for indigent Nigerians decided to take up the case on pro bono,” Bakre said.
In response to how the detainees ended in the correctional facilities to their release, the director in his response said that it all started in 2009.
”The detainees were arrested in June, July and August 2009 in Bauchi, Kano and Maiduguri and arraigned on various charges bordering on possession of fire arms, belonging to unlawful society and arson.
“In Bauchi, 169 were arraigned before a Federal High Court and Magistrates’ Court, granted bail and 17 of them could not meet their bail conditions.
“In similar vein, the ones from Kano and Maiduguri too were arraigned, granted bail. However, some remained in custody as they could not meet the bail conditions as ordered by the courts.
“Then on March 13, 2011, the military went into the correctional facilities in the three states and were transferred to the Kirikiri correctional centres and they were there without any further prosecution” he added.
Bakre in addition said that meanwhile, the Federal High Court, Bauchi, where the 17 inmates were arraigned on November 30, 2010, struck out the matter for lack of diligent prosecution.
He said that same process happened in 2011 in the Federal High Court, Kano.
He equally averred that the court in Maiduguri struck out the case against the detainees for same reason on July 30, 2013.