The Nigeria Prisons Service, NPS, has reacted to the outcry trailing the putting of handcuffs on the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Olisa Metuh, when he appeared in the Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday, declaring that it was at the discretion of the prison officer, who supervised his court appearance.
Justice Okon Abang had, on January 15, ordered Metuh to be remanded in Kuje Prison shortly after his arraignment on seven counts of money laundering preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. The PDP spokesman had remained there since then and had to be brought to court by the warders to hear the ruling on his application for bail.
The NPS explained through its spokesman, Francis Enobore, on Wednesday, that the officer in charge of the escort that took Metuh to court was at liberty to determine if the inmate should be handcuffed based on security situation, the environment and intelligence report made available to him.
He spoke to correct misconceptions in the media and by the PDP, that putting handcuffs on Metuh is a plot by the All Progressives Congress, APC –led administration to subdue Nigeria’s main opposition party.
Enobore, in a telephone interview with the Punch, stressed that Metuh was not maltreated in any way, explaining that handcuffing an inmate was a standard procedure, which the prison warden could employ based on the situation at hand.
According to him, “Handcuffing an inmate is at the discretion of the officer in-charge, depending on the security situation, the environment and intelligence report available to the officer. Sometimes they look at the atmosphere and take the necessary decision.”
“If you suspect that the atmosphere, security-wise, may not be conducive to the inmates in your custody, you can use handcuffs; to avoid a situation where you have to start telling stories, you use your discretion to study the environment and take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of the inmates in your custody.”
“Remember that we not only try to secure the inmate from escaping, we equally provide protection for the inmate. The officer in-charge must ensure that the life of the inmate is not jeopardised. It is the officer in-charge of the escort that studies the security environment and takes the decision to use handcuffs.”
When asked whether there was intelligence suggesting that Metuh might escape or was in danger of being harmed, Enobore said he did not know because he was not at the scene and dismissed insinuations that the accused was handcuffed to please the Presidency.
This was as he asserted that there was no political consideration in the treatment of inmates by the prisons service.