A 38-year-old awaiting trial prisoner Sunday Akubor died in Oko Prison, Edo State Tuesday evening, April 18th. According to Chief Executive Officer of Behind Bars Initiative, Prince Gwannishu Harrison (pictured) who broke the news this morning, the father of two was arrested for issuing a dud cheque to a business associate, one Abogame Fredrick.
He was arraigned before a Magistrate Court on two counts charge of conspiracy to defraud. Below is a statement by Prince Harrison:
"JLAA is outraged with the continuing neglect and mistreatment of inmates at the Oko Prisons Benin City , Edo state.The jail’s credibility and the public’s trust in the prisons administration are steadily declining with every violation of human and civil rights.
Sunday Akubor was arrested for issuing a dud cheque to a business associate, Abogame Fredrick, who had vowed to use his "connection" with the Edo State police command to ensure that Mr.Akubor, does not "return back from prison".
Despite his protest to the police that he had reasonable expectations of funds at the time of issuing the cheque and indeed went ahead to present the cash value of the cheque at the State CID Benin City, Edo state, the investigative police officer insisted that the case must proceed to a court of law at the behest of Mr. Abogame. That was two days to Easter.
JLAA got involved immediately after Mr. Akubor had spent three days in police cell without bail. JLAA Edo state Head of legal, Bright Omorodion Esq. was immediately dispatched to secure his bail and if necessary proceed to court to defend and assert Mr. Akubor's rights.
However, he was taken to Magistrate court and arraigned on two count charge of conspiracy to defraud and issuance of dud cheque. He was represented, on probono basis by a team of lawyers from JLAA. Bail was granted on what we have elsewhere described as harsh, punitive and wrongful.
Mr.Sunday Akubor until his death, was a trader, 38 and married with two children, Joan and Jason. I personally spoke with him on Easter Friday from his cell when he surprisingly called me and assured him that JLAA will do everything legally possible to get him out.
Yesterday morning, JLAA had filed application for variation of bail condition. By evening, words reached us that he was found dead in his cell. His death brings to the fore, once again the plight of poor detainees languishing in the various prisons in Nigeria as a result of obnoxious and punitive bail conditions imposed on them by courts.
Unfortunately, we do not see this situation improving drastically in the near future which is again the reason why we strongly recommended the immediate suspension of the new prison superintendent until the relevant authorities conclude investigative findings on the basis of our petition to the minister of interior.
We shall submit a petition to the Honourable Minister of the Interior this morning in Abuja. JLAA Director of litigation, Opeyemi Baderu will leave for Benin this morning to assess the situation first hand preparatory to instituting a court action against police and the Prison Authority for negligently causing the death of citizen Sunday Akubor.
We urge the Ministry of Interior to continue its investigation into potential violations of inmates’ constitutional rights of inmates in the various prisons in the land with utmost urgency. We will not be silent on this matter. We will leverage our community and legislative partnerships to make substantial changes in Nigerian prisons.Regardless, the Nigerian Prison Authorities and the Police Authority just "bought" another litigation.