Man detained 14 years without trial regains freedom, suffers mental disorder

The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos has freed a man Idris Musa who was arrested in 2010 by the police over the murder of one Ali Kolo and abandoned in Kirikiri prisons for 14 years without trial.

Musa who has since developed mental disorder according to his prison record was first arraigned by the police before an Ebute Meta Magistrate Court, Lagos where Magistrate Doja Ojo ordered that he should be remanded in prison custody on holden charge pending a Directorate of Public Prosecution, DPP, advice.

Although the advice was issued several months later for his arraignment before the High Court, it took over two years before he was eventually charged before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo.

However, his trial was suspended when a prosecution witness testified that he was not the ‘Idris Musa’ that killed the deceased for which he was charged .

Thereafter, neither the Police nor the office of Attorney-General of Lagos state pursued the matter leaving the defendant to rot in jail.

In 2017, the law firm of Charles Mekwunye & Co, took up the matter and filed a fundamental human rights enforcement suit against the Commissioner of Police, Lagos state, the office of the Attorney-General and Deputy Comptroller-General of Prisons seeking his release.

In 2018, a Lagos High Court sitting in Lagos dismissed the suit insisting that the arrest and continued detention of the defendant without any formal charge or trial for 8 years as at the time of delivering the judgment was not unconstitutional or a violation of the defendant’s fundamental right to liberty.

The lower court however ordered the Attorney-General’s office to expedite the prosecution of the defendant before a court of competent jurisdiction.

Despite the court order, the defendant continued to languish in prison as no attempt was made by the AG’s office to bring him for trial before any court.

In 2020, Dr. Charles Mekwunye, SAN, filed an appeal before the Court of Appeal Lagos on behalf of the defendant asking the court to set aside the judgment of the lower court and order unconditional release of the appellant with compensation and public apology.

Dr. Mekwunye postulated among other things that continued detention of the appellant in prison for 10 without trial and the Lagos AG’s refusal to still arraign him before any court as earlier ordered by the lower court, is a breach of his constitutional right to liberty.

The Appellate Court in a lead judgment by Justice Jimi Bada however disagreed with Mekwunye’s argument insisting that an arrest and remand properly made as in the instant case cannot constitute a breach of fundamental human rights. The judge held that there are other avenues for the defendant to seek justice for the purported infringement of his fundamental human rights.

The court however took notice of the evidence that the Appellant has developed mental disorder following his long years on incarceration and ordered that he be released unconditionally.

Justice Bada held: “Before I make final order in this appeal, I will draw attention to the fact that the Appellant has been in the custody of the 3rd Respondent for the past 14 years without trial.

“And according to Paragraph 12 of the affidavit in support of the Fundamental Right Application filed at the trial Court sworn to on July 18, 2017, the Appellant as a result of his years of confinement, without trial has developed grave signs of mental disorder.

“There is no counter-affidavit to contradict that fact from any of 1, 2nd and 3 Respondents. Therefore the Appellant is hereby ordered to be released unconditionally to any member of his family to enable them to take care of him adequately.”

The two other judges on the panel, Justice Folashade Ojo and Justice Paul Bassi concurred with the lead judgment.

The post Man detained 14 years without trial regains freedom, suffers mental disorder appeared first on DNews Info.

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