A man who was remanded in prison for attempting to steal his brother's money from an ATM has died due to the ineptitude of prison officials.
A 29-year-old man, Okenife Okeke, who has been held at the Kirikiri Medium Security Prison on awaiting trial has lost his life owing to what a senior magistrate of a court sitting in Ijaiye-Ojokoro, Lagos State, Mrs. O.A Olayinka, called the insensitivity and lackadaisical attitude of the officers of the Nigerian Prisons Service, for not giving adequate attention to the man whose case suffered six adjournments without any cogent reason.
The magistrate said the prison officers should be held responsible for Okeke's death for their failure to produce the defendant in the court after his first appearance on April 3, 2014.
It was learnt Okeke had been remanded in the prison while the case was adjourned till April 10, but was however, not brought to the court until he died of diabetes in November 11 at the prison’s clinic.
It was further gathered that on two occasions, the warders had adduced their failure to produce Okeke to 'oversight' and 'a breakdown of one of the prison’s vehicles.'
The deceased, who was arraigned on one count of attempted stealing, was not brought before the court on five different adjourned dates even though the magistrate issued a warrant mandating the NPS to present the accused person in court.
The defendant was said to have been arrested for attempting to withdraw the sum of N25,000 from the bank account of his brother, Boniface, without the brother's consent.
But due to the ineptitude of the prison officials in producing the young man so that justice can be dispensed with, he has lost his life in the process. The magistrate further said she would have struck out the case if the suspect had been brought to the court.
The angry magistrate berated the warders further:
"If you (warders) had produced the defendant, I might have freed him given the weight of the allegation made against him. And possibly he might have got medical help.
I learnt that you bring defendants to court subject to whims and caprices of complainants."
In a letter dated December 18, 2014 and addressed to the court, an Assistant Controller of Prison, A.I. Gbadamosi, confirmed Okeke’s demise.
The letter reads:
"I am directed to acknowledge the receipt of a production warrant issued from your honourable court requesting the production of Okenife Okeke, who was remanded in our custody.
Sir, I regret to inform you that Okenife Okeke died of diabetic mellitus at the Medium Security Prison clinic, Kirikiri, on November 11, 2014, and a death report, dated November 14, 2014, was forwarded to your court.
The death report was received by one Mrs. Bello, an employee in your honourable court."