The Incorporated Trustees of the Prisoners’ Rights Advocacy Initiative (PRAI) has dragged the Federal Government, ministers and four others before the Federal High Court, Lagos over the circumstances that led to the death of five inmates and hospitalization of another seven in the electrocution that occurred at the Ikoyi Prison, a major correctional facility in Lagos.
The inmates were said to have been electrocuted in their cells following a power surge at the facility on December 2.
In the suit, PRAI contended that the electrocution of the inmates were due to the negligence of the Controller General of the Nigerian Correctional Service.
It added that the Attorney General of the Federation and the Attorney General of Lagos State should be blamed for the overcrowding in the prison, which, it said, was blamable for the casualty figure.
The respondents in the suit are FG, Attorney General of the Federation; Minister of Interior, Controller-General of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Lagos State Controller of Correctional Service, Attorney General of Lagos State and the Chief Judge of Lagos State.
The human rights group is urging the court to declare that “the 1st – 5th respondents’ failure to keep a safe and conducive custody of inmates in the Ikoyi Medium Security Custodial Centre was responsible for the electrocution, which led to the death of at least five inmates and injury of at least 10 others.”
It said the incident was “a breach of the inmates’ rights to freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment enshrined in Section 34(1)(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; sections 10(b), 14(8) and 24 of the Nigerian Correctional Act, 2019 and the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners (as revised in 2015) A/RES/70/175.”
PRAI prayed the court to hold that “the overcrowding of the Ikoyi Medium Security Custodial Centre, which was originally built in 1955 to accommodate 800 inmates, but now holding about 3,113 inmates as of 3rd December 2019, is unconstitutional and violates the inmates’ fundamental right to freedom from degrading treatment and respect for dignity of their persons under Section 34(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).”
The suit is yet to get hearing date.
Meanwhile, the group has also written a letter to the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbeshola, seeking compensation for the affected inmates.
PRAI in the letter dated December 11, recommended N10 million as compansation for the family of each late inmate, while it also recommended N3 million as compensation for inmate who sustained injuries in the incident.