cp nigerBy Uthman Siraja

The ongoing face-off between the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), state governors and their respective Attorney generals and commissioners for Justice has taken a dangerous dimension in Niger State as Police detention facilities is now over crowded with suspects of high profiled cases.

The suspected criminals have been languishing in the detention facilities of men of the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligent Department (SCIID), and other Police divisional headquarters across the state in the last two months without been charged to court as a result of the industrial action.

The Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria were demanding for financial autonomy for the Judiciary to function as the third tier of government as enshrined in section 121 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, while the state governors and their respective Attorney generals refused to comply with the federal high court judgment delivered sometimes in 2017 by Justice Gabriel Adeniyi of Federal High Court, Abuja.

 For refusal by the state governors to comply with the court judgment, the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria on April 6, 2021, called on their members across the country to embark on the industrial action until their demands were met.

The industrial action has now crippled court activities as litigants and lawyers as well as Police and other law enforcement agencies were all at the receiving end of the industrial face-off as they could not take suspects in their custody to courts for prosecution.

Findings by Newsline Online revealed that already, not fewer than 1,557 suspects are in detention at the facility of the state Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID), at the state Police Headquarters in Minna.

Suspects detained for various allegations include culpable homicide, armed robbery, banditry, and rape cases, among other capital offences.

Newsline Online gathered that as a result of the capital nature of their offences they were kept in the detention pending the suspension of the ongoing industrial action when they will be formally arraigned in courts for proper prosecution.

It was further gathered that as a result of the congestion in the SCIID detention facility, some of the suspects were also distributed to other nine divisional commands within the area Police Command in Minna, the Niger State capital; it was reliably gathered that the divisional command were also congested with suspects as some of the cells could not even accommodate the suspects

“We are really battling with the influx of suspects in our cells. Feeding them and taking care of any of them that falls sick in our custody is a big problem to the Police as there is no provision  provided to  take care of their medication and feeding. My fear is that; God forbid, there should be no any outbreak of disease in the cell. It will be a big problem to the command.” A senior Police officer who preferred anonymity told Newsline online in confidence.

Worried by the unhealthy and the overcrowded state of the detention facility at the state command, the Commissioner of Police in Niger State, Mr, Adamu Usman has approached the state commissioner for Justice and Attorney general of the state, Barrister Nasara Dan Malam, to prevail on the chief Judge of Niger State, Justice Aisha Lami Bawa Bwari to as a matter of concern appoint some magistrates to try some of the suspects to help in decongesting the facilities.

Justice Aisha Bawa Bwari obliged the request where she approved and appointed the chief Magistrate in the state Judiciary headquarters, Alhaji Nasir Mu’azu and five other magistrates to speedily assist the state police command in the trial of the suspects towards decongesting the detention facilities.

Newsline online further gathered that the Attorney general and commissioner of Justice, Barrister Nasara Dan Malam however, has also approached the state Comptroller of Correctional Service, Alhaji Abdulkadir Salman to help in providing accommodation at the two custodial centres in Minna for admission of the suspects.

The state Comptroller of the service, it was gathered, requested the support of the state government with the provision of their feeding and medication as the service headquarters in Abuja has not made any arrangement or provision for their feeding.

However, in an exclusive interview with Newsline online in his office, the Attorney general and Commissioner for Justice, Nasara Dan Malam described the ongoing industrial action declared by JUSUN as regrettable noting that the action was uncalled for.

He explained that Governor Abubakar Sani Bello as a respecter of the rule of law was passionate and committed to the independence and financial autonomy for the Judiciary stressing that the governor was not in any way against the constitutional provision of financial autonomy.

He therefore, appealed to Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), to as a matter of concern call off the strike in the overall interest of speedy administration of criminal Justice.