By Bruno Nwoke
Chief Femi Falana (SAN), has threatened to sue the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, over the continued detention of a former Commander of the Multi National Joint Task Force, Brig.-Gen. Enitan Ransome Kuti after completing a six-month prison term to which he was sentenced by a Special Court Martial on October 15, 2015.
In his letter dated February 26, 2016, and addressed to Buratai, Falana said Ransome-Kuti was unjustly sentenced to dismissal from the Nigerian Army and six-month imprisonment.
Chief Falana, who was Ransome-Kuti’s defence lawyer at the court martial, said his client had since his “unjust conviction” for “war-related crimes” remained in military detention, even when he ought to spend four calendar months in custody.
He said Ransome-Kuti’s continued detention could not be justified under the Armed Forces Act and the Constitution.
He stated that he might be compelled to approach the court for the enforcement of Ransome-Kuti’s fundamental right to personal liberty guaranteed by section 35 of the Constitution and Article 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.
He said, “We are therefore compelled to request you to use your good offices to ensure that our client is released from unjust and illegal incarceration forthwith.
“Take notice that if you fail or refuse to accede to our request by ensuring the immediate release of our client we shall not hesitate to seek redress in the Federal High Court with a view to securing the enforcement of his fundamental right to person liberty guaranteed by section 35 of the Constitution and article 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”
In his letter titled, ‘Request for release of Brig-Gen. E.A Ransome-Kuti (N/8301) from custody after serving six-month prison term’, Falana said he had made representation to the army authority with respect to the need for the findings of the court martial to be confirmed.
He said Buratai flagrantly turned down the request for Ransome-Kuti’s release pending his appeal against the verdict of the court martial “in flagrant violation of section 160 of the Armed Forces Act (Cap A20) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”
His letter read in part, “By letter dated 19 October 2015 we also requested the authorities of the Nigerian Army to release our client from military custody pending the determination of the appeal which he intended to file against the unjust findings of the Special Court Martial which convicted him of war related crimes and sentenced him to six-month imprisonment and dismissal from the Nigerian Army.
“For reasons best known to you the request for our client’s release pending appeal was turned down by your good self in flagrant violation of section 160 of the Armed Forces Act (Cap A20) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
“Thus, you caused our client to serve the six-month prison term without the confirmation of the findings of the Special Court Martial by the Army Council.
“As if that was not enough, you have ignored our demand for the release of our client since he completed the six-month prison term on February 15, 2016.
“In our letter dated February 12, 2016 on the subject matter, we had pointed out that our client ought to have spent 4 calendar months in custody by virtue of Regulations 54 and 55 of the Prisons Regulations made pursuant to the Prisons Act (CAP. P29) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 which provides that every convict is entitled to a remission of one third of the sentence imposed by a court.”