THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF PRALARG INT'L FROM THE LEGAL PERSPECTIVE
DEFINITION OF PRALARG
Pralarg Int'l is the acronym for Prisons Rehabilitation and Law Abiding Organization Int'l. This organization was primarily aimed at rehabilitating inmates and former inmates of the prison institution. However, our experience with some tests inmates shows that the rehabilitation must be done during the stay of the inmate inside the prison because it is a lot harder to rehabilitate a former inmate who has mingled with recidivists otherwise known as hardened criminals. An example is a former inmate whom we tried to empower by purchasing a commercial vehicle on his behalf and allowing the inmate to be paying the purchase price of the vehicle by instalments but later discovered that the inmate would have defrauded the organization since he doesn’t know how to drive but claiming to drive expertly.
This made our C. E. O. to shift the focus to preventing the influx of inmates into the prisons and thereby reducing the congestion of the prisons and preventing people from mixing with recidivists. The organization discovered that the influx majorly starts from the Police stations in which civil conflicts are brought to court by the Police on a criminal charge thereby increasing the number of non-criminal minded inmates inside the prisons, hence, creating recycling of crimes in the society.
To appreciate the achievements of Pralarg Int'l, we shall be looking at it from 3 different perspectives.
Pralarg Int'l achievements at the Police Station
The organization decided to be training members on paralegal studies in order to empower them to be able to defend themselves whenever they are accosted with a difficult situation by the law enforcement agencies. The organization also has volunteers and comrades; trained in paralegal studies and conflict resolution, who also accompany complainants to the Police station where conflicts are resolved amicably without the matter being charged to court. We first encountered some conflicts with the Police initially because some police officers resisted due to selfish and greedy ends. We were able to checkmate some officers by writing petitions to the right quarters in order that such officers are called to book. Some instances are:
- Where some police officers aided some people in the destruction of some properties at Obada without a court order, the police officers were petitioned and disciplined appropriately. The matter is presently at the High Court against the people who destroyed those properties without a court order.|
- Some police officers at the Anti-Kidnapping Squad at Ibadan, collected N80, 000 from one of our members who is a truck driver in Oyo State before granting bail, the Police officer was petitioned for extortion and bribery, the money was later refunded to our member. The officer is also facing disciplinary action by the appropriate order.
- Some Police officers from S.A.R.S Dugbe, Ibadan, also arrested and detained our member on suspicion of Armed Robbery and they extorted the sum of N400, 000. After our intervention, the money was refunded by the police immediately.
The Organization also sent volunteers whom we also call Pralarg foot soldiers to the Police station to help resolve conflicts before matters are charged to court.
- There was the case of a man who was detained at the DSS at Asaba on suspicion of aiding kidnappers. The man worked at a private school and unsuspectingly gave out his account number to a young boy so that his parents could be sending money to the student through the said man. The young boy gave the account number to his uncle who was a kidnapper and wanted to use the account to collect ransom from his victims. The man did not even know about the transaction at all until he was arrested and taken to Asaba. We sent one of our comrades to Asaba who secured his bail without the Dss collecting any money for bail.
- There was another case of a man arrested at Mowe on suspicion of robbing and stealing a trailer parked along the Highway at Mowe in Ogun State. The man was arrested and detained at the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Magbon in Abeokuta. Our comrades followed some of the members of the family of the said man to the SARS office at Magbon and he was granted bail without any demand of money.
We also have various instances where conflicts were not resolved at the police station and the suspects are charged to court. Our organization ensures that our complainant is given legal representation in court ( i.e. if he does not have any) at a subsidized rate.
- We had a case of an elderly man that was arrested on suspicion of being in possession of a dead body. Our comrades were at the Police headquarters at Eleweran for several days before the elderly man was charged to court at Owode. We mobilized our legal representative who was able to secure the bail of the elderly man. The matter has now been struck out
- We also have the issue of a farmer who was almost beaten to death by Fulani Herdsmen in Oyo State. Before the elderly man came to complain to us, the Fulani Herdsmen had lodged a complaint against the man for stealing but with our intervention, one of the culprits was apprehended and subsequently charged to court for assault. We were still not satisfied with the charge of assault, we wrote another petition and the charge was amended and substituted with attempted murder.
- Just to blow our trumpet some more, we had another case of multiple complaints between 5 people with 2 criminal cases pending in court against one another for about 4 years running. With our intervention in the matter, we were able to call all parties in the matter, the issue was amicably settled amongst all warring parties and all the criminal cases were withdrawn and has now been struck out.
PRALARG INT'L ACHIEVEMENTS WITH CONFLICT RESOLUTION
Pralarg Int'l is also aimed at resolving civil conflicts within the community. We discovered that resolving conflicts also reduce police intervention, thereafter also reduce cases in court.
- We had the case of a landlord that has been intimidated by his tenant. The tenant mobilized soldiers to arrest and detains both the landlord and some of the tenants for over 9 hours. The landlord came to complain and we invited the tenant but he did not come for an amicable settlement. We reported the tenant at his workplace, the tenant later changed his mind and vacated the premises peacefully
- There was the issue of a man who had been in court for years, up to the Supreme Court for judgment against his employers and was awarded the sum of N7, 200, 000 but which his employers had refused to pay because it was a federal government agency since 2013. After our intervention, the agency paid the man N7, 200, 000 in full
- We had the issue of a man who sold a generator to a former local government chairman in Bayelsa State. The Chairman did not pay for the generator and did not release the hiab truck that delivered the generator. When we intervened and reported the Chairman to the Police, the Hiab and generator were released immediately.
- There was the matter of a truck driver named Friday Momoh in Osun State. Friday had an accident with another truck and was hospitalized for years. Friday became bedridden and couldn’t take care of his family. Our organization took up part of his treatment. After our intervention, the company whose truck collided with Friday’s truck later agreed to pay compensation to Friday and he was paid N2, 500, 000 to cover both hospital expenses and any other payment for his treatment.
PRALARG INT'L ACHIEVEMENTS IN THE COURTS
Our organization do not encourage litigation but where it is inevitable, it rises to the occasion. We do not encourage criminality in any form; anybody who does the crime must surely do the time. We have defended several criminal cases in court and released several inmates in prison custody.
- There is Kabiru Lawal. His family came to complain that he had been charged to court wrongly for a case of murder, after our intervention, Kabiru Lawal was released in December 2017 with no case to answer; his case has now been struck out from the court.
- We have the matter of Sunday Ero who has been in prison custody for over 7 years, we filed his case to the High court he has now been released since February 2018 and his charge was quashed by the High Court.
- We have another case of a boy popularly known as Akara, who was wrongly accused of stealing a battery of a truck. When we intervened, the company that owns the truck later agreed to withdraw the case from court after discovering that the battery was stolen by the company driver. The case has now been struck out and he has been released from prison detention. He was at Oba Prison.
- We received some complaints against a magistrate on a criminal matter that the Magistrate was about to imprison the accused persons unjustly since he was biased. We wrote a letter to the Chief Judge and the matter was transferred from that Magistrate. The accused persons were discharged and acquitted by the new Magistrate.
These are just some few examples of Pralarg’s achievement from the legal perspective. We can still do more if we have more lawyers who can do pro bono cases and more volunteers. We need the cooperation of everyone. Prison rehabilitation is everyone’s business that is why Pralarg is concerned about the welfare of the inmates and is celebrating with some lucky inmates who are graduating today.
Prison is not a home. Prison should be a last resort that is the reason we are earnestly supporting the new Administration of Justice Law where awaiting trial inmates must not spend more than 3 months in prison custody if not they must be granted bail. Any person spending 6 months awaiting trial in prison is already serving a jail term and should be discouraged. Monday Olem was an inmate here at Ibara Prison, he spent 3 years awaiting trial only for the legal advice to come out that he had no case to answer. This is very sad because no amount of compensation can be adequate for 3 years loss of time and the stigma attached when he comes out. That is why all hands must be on deck on Prison Rehabilitation.
Pralarg Step in the right direction
Parlarg prison is not a home
Pralarg, your right is paramount
Thank you for listening.
THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF PRALARG FROM THE LEGAL PERSPECTIVE
LECTURE DELIVERED AT THE GRADUATION OF INMATES AT IBARA PRISON ORGANIZED BY THE “PRISONS REHABILITATION AND LAW ABIDING ORGANIZATION”
SATURDAY 2ND DAY OF JUNE 2018
OLD ABEOKUTA PRISON, IBARA, ABEOKUTA, OGUN STATE
MRS. A. O. APENA L.L.B., B. L.