US Court Rules Against Sentence Reduction For Low-Level Crack Offenders

Man Bags 15 Years In Prison For N5.2m Fraud

 

The US Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Monday that low-level crack cocaine offenders are not eligible to have their prison sentences reduced.

Sentences for crack cocaine offenders have been criticized as racially discriminatory but the nine justices on the nation’s highest court said they were not in a position to intervene.

The much harsher sentences handed out for crack cocaine over powder cocaine under tough 1980s war-on-drugs guidelines have been blamed for fueling the stark racial disparity in US prisons.

A gram of crack cocaine was treated like 100 grams of powder cocaine under a 1986 law.

Congress sought to address the disparity in 2010 by making the ratio 18 to 1, but it did not make the law retroactive.

In 2018, then-President Donald Trump signed the “First Step Act” which would apply the lesser sentences to those convicted between 1986 and 2010.

But it was not clear whether the relief applied to low-level offenders such as Tarahrick Terry, a Black man whose case went before the Supreme Court.

Terry, 33, was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2008 for possession of 3.9 grams of crack cocaine.

He asked for a reduced sentence under the First Step Act but the court ruled that the law did not apply to his situation.

“Unfortunately, the text will not bear that reading,” said Justice Sonia Sotomayor in a separate opinion. “Fortunately, Congress has numerous tools to right this injustice.”

Crack cocaine use was rampant in some African American communities at the time the law was passed in the 1980s, and Black men in particular were severely impacted by the harsher sentences.

Belarus Activist Returned To Jail After Stabbing Himself In Court

A Belarusian activist who was hospitalised after stabbing himself in the neck in court has been returned to prison following surgery, the Viasna rights group said Wednesday.

Stepan Latypov, 41, on Tuesday rammed a pen into his neck on the first day of his trial on several protest-related charges during a hearing seen by government critics as part of a sweeping crackdown on political opposition.

Viasna, citing Latypov’s relatives, said Wednesday the activist was returned to prison and that family had been able to deliver him a parcel there.

READ ALSO: Southgate Eyes Euro 2020 Semis As Barometer For Success

Latypov was detained last September and went on trial in the capital Minsk on several charges including creating protest symbols and resisting law enforcement.

Viasna said he appeared in court with bruises and that after his father was questioned Latypov climbed on a bench and stabbed himself in the neck with what appeared to be a pen.

Belarus was gripped by months of demonstrations that erupted after a disputed presidential election last August saw Alexander Lukashenko claim a sixth term.

Security forces cracked down hard on protests, detaining and imprisoning thousands of demonstrators and pushing opposition leaders into exile. Several people died in the unrest.

Another Belarusian political activist, 50-year-old Vitold Ashurok, died in jail in the east of the country last month, reportedly of cardiac arrest.

Belarus has faced a global outcry after Lukashenko’s government ordered the diversion of a European flight over its airspace last month and arrested dissident Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend who were on board.

AFP

Defend Nigeria’s Correctional Centres At All Costs, FG Directs Officials

A file photo of a correctional centre where inmates are serving various jail terms.

 

The Federal Government has directed officials of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) to protect all custodial centres in the country.

Rauf Aregbesola, the Minister of Interior, gave the directive on Friday at a meeting with squadron commanders of the service at the NCoS Headquarters in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Amid the disturbing spate of insecurity in the country, the minister directed all officers of the services to defend the custodial centres at all costs.

“More importantly, you are armed and positioned to directly guard them and defend their integrity. Your mission is to defend the facilities at all costs. Let me repeat again, defend them at all costs,” he told the officials at the meeting.

Aregbesola added, “You are empowered by the highest authority in the land to use every means necessary to defend the custodial centres against internal and external aggression.”

He noted the attack on the custodial centre in Owerri, the Imo State capital, saying that was the worst of its kind.

The minister also recalled the coordinated attacks on custodial centres in Edo State and an unsuccessful attempt was made in Lagos in 2020.

He warned that a pattern of attack on custodial centres was emerging, saying it was being used to stage attacks on correctional facilities amid the present security challenges.

According to Aregbesola, the custodial facilities are sacred and inviolable institutions, as well as a symbol of the authority of the Nigerian State.

“You will notice that they are usually built around military fortresses, to show how important they are. This is to deter would-be attackers from inside or outside. The weapons you carry and the instrument you have are to be lawfully deployed for maximum effect, in protecting the facilities.

“Anyone or group of persons that decide(s) to attack them should not live to regret it. You must not fail because failure means you have contributed to the insecurity in the land by allowing criminals to invade the society,” he said.

Read the full text of the minister’s address at the meeting below:

SPEECH BY THE MINISTER OF INTERIOR, OGBENI RAUF AREGBESOLA, WHILE ADDRESSING SQUADRON COMMANDERS OF THE NIGERIA CORRECTIONAL SERVICE (NCOS), HELD AT THE NIGERIA CORRECTIONAL SERVICE HEADQUARTERS, AIRPORT ROAD, ABUJA, ON FRIDAY APRIL 30, 2021

Protocols,

INVIOLABLE CUSTODIAL CENTRES

It gives me great pleasure to be at this event and address squadron commanders of the Nigeria Correctional Service. This meeting is very important considering the security challenges we face in the country at the moment.

It is not in dispute that attempts are always made to compromise the integrity of the custodial centres – from within or without or simultaneously. This ranges from mild to very serious, with varying degrees of success.

Earlier this month, there was an attack, the worst of its kind, on the Owerri custodial centre. During the #ENDSARS riots of late last year, there were coordinated attacks on custodial centres in Edo State, while an unsuccessful attempt was made in Lagos.

It should be clear that a pattern of attack on custodial centres is emerging, in which the current security challenges are being used to stage attacks on our facilities.

Let me commend you for your professionalism, diligence, and sacrifice in the performance of your duty which have upheld the integrity of our custodial centres. Your job is like that of a goalkeeper.

The saves he made are hardly reckoned with, but the shots that sailed past him into the net are the issues counted against him. I am aware of the yeoman’s job you are doing in foiling attacks on our institutions, even as the outcry grows on the recent cases of jailbreaks.

We must note that the prison in ancient times was not to incarcerate an accused person for a long term. It was for the holding period before an accused would face trial and sentencing. The punishment of which could be in form of fines, lashing, banishment, being sold into slavery, execution and so on.

The resources and the presence of mind were not just there, and the mode of social organisation did not conceive of it. It was not until the 18th Century that prison terms are imposed on convicts as a form of punishment, following the ascendancy of human rights advocacy.

The first western-styled prison in Nigeria was the Broad Street Prison established in 1872 but penology historians would tell us that the appointment of Colonel V. L. Mabb as Director of Prisons in 1934 by the then Governor, Sir Donald Cameron, marked the introduction of the modern prison system in the country.

The Native Authority prisons were abolished in 1968 followed by the unification of all prisons under the Nigerian Prison Service which has now become the Nigeria Correctional Service. Custodial centres are integral to human civilisation. They are the heart and soul of the justice system.

In the developmental process, not everyone will be well adjusted to society. Some are brought up in bad environments. There are those who will be morally challenged i.e., not knowing the difference between right and wrong. There are others who made mistakes.

The common factor between them all is that they constitute a danger to society and human civilisation. Take for instance serial murderers or armed robbers. Their presence in human society, mingling unfettered with others, constitutes grave risks to lives and property.

They will bring chaos and disorder, recreating Thomas Hobbes’ mythical state of nature where the ‘life of man is solitary, nasty, brutish and short’. No normal person will want to be part of that madness.

This is why civilised human society devised a holding system where offenders can be legally and securely confined, separated from the rest of society. The primary reason for holding criminals, therefore, is to put them in a condition where they would not be able to menace society and therefore keep society safe from them.

Order and balance will be restored when criminals are put in lawful custody, whenever a crime is committed. The second, and not less important, stems from the notion that humans are capable of being good and therefore, subject to reformation in the right environment, they can be reset to factory setting through conscious reformation.

This, of course, is why our agency is now formally called a correctional institution. Nevertheless, these two ideas undergird the correctional institution. Depending on the severity of offence, jail terms vary.

A lot, if not most, are on a short term; others are on a long term, while some are going to spend the rest of their lives in a facility. Some others are waiting to be executed. It is absolutely necessary for all of them to complete their term or be kept in custody as stipulated.

This is the foundation on which societal justice is built. Grave and incalculable harm will be done to society if this foundation slips. The entire edifice will come crashing down, with dire consequences for all.

We are already seeing some of these. Some of the escaped inmates from Edo have been arrested for committing murder and other crimes. One, in particular, went after those who provided the witness for his conviction.

The custodial facilities are a symbol of the authority of the Nigerian State. They are sacred and inviolable institutions. You will notice that they are usually built around military fortresses, to show how important they are. This is to deter would-be attackers from inside or outside.

More importantly, you are armed and positioned to directly guard them and defend their integrity. Your mission is to defend the facilities at all costs. Let me repeat again, defend them at all cost.

You are empowered by the highest authority in the land to use every means necessary to defend the custodial centres against internal and external aggression. The weapons you carry and the instrument you have are to be lawfully deployed for maximum effect, in protecting the facilities.

Anyone or group of persons that decide(s) to attack them should not live to regret it. You must not fail because failure means you have contributed to the insecurity in the land by allowing criminals to invade society.

This begins with vigilance. You must be on the watch for any instrument or material that could aid criminals in perpetuating jailbreaks. Again, earlier this month, vigilant officers stopped one of their colleagues from smuggling a mobile phone to an inmate in Bauchi.

It will be difficult, if not impossible, for inmates to break from inside without receiving assistance from officers, no matter how little. It is my firm belief that you will return to your posts recharged, renewed, reinvigorated and reequipped with a new sense of purpose.

A philosopher once said that you may not be able to change the world, but all that is required of you is to do your part and do it well. That is what it takes to change the world.

I wish you a safe journey to your various posts.

I thank you all for your kind attention.

Five Inmates, Two Officials Injured As Riot Breaks Out In Bauchi Prison

INEC Resumes Collation Exercise For Bauchi Governorship Election Today
Bauchi state is bordered by seven states, Kano and Jigawa to the north, Taraba and Plateau to the south, Gombe and Yobe to the east and Kaduna to the west.

 

Five prison inmates and two officials of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) in Bauchi State have been injured following a riot that erupted in the facility.

The spokesman of the NCS in the state, Abubakar Adam, confirmed this to Channels Television on Friday via an interview.

He said the State Police Command however sent a reinforcement to prevent a jailbreak in Bauchi metropolis, the state capital.

The spokesman debunked rumours that sporadic gunshots were heard, noting that the inmates instigated the violence as a means to escape following Monday’s jailbreak in Imo State.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Receives Stolen Ile-Ife Artefact From Mexico

“There was a riot, not sporadic gunshot traced by inmates. It was the inmates that instigated the riots, maybe wanting to break the prison and get out,” he said.

“It was as a result of what happened in Imo State where some gunmen broke the prison and got away with some inmates from there. We have some conspires from the south and they are serving their sentences here.

“Hearing what happened down south, they wanted to experience the same thing here in Bauchi. We thank God the issue has been quenched.”

Imo Prison Attack: Gov Uzodinma Meets With Heads Of Security Agencies

 

An emergency security council meeting between Governor Hope Uzodimma and heads of security agencies in Imo State is about to commence.

This meeting is not unconnected to the attack on the Nigeria Correctional Service Imo state command and the Imo state police command which led to the release of an unconfirmed number of inmates.

READ ALSO: Gunmen Attack Imo Prison, Free Inmates And Burn Facility

The attack also saw to the setting ablaze of not less than 50 operational vehicles belonging to the Police and Nigeria Correctional Centre.

Spokesperson of the Nigeria Correctional Service in Imo state, James Madugba says the authorities are still trying to get the accurate data of inmates who escaped and the level of devastation.

At Least One Dead As Gunmen Attack Imo Prison, Police Headquarters

 

Gunmen on Monday attacked the Nigerian Correctional Services and the Police Headquarters in Imo State, freeing an unspecified number of prison inmates.

Channels Television gathered that the attack occurred in the early hours of today, after which the hoodlums set the facilities ablaze.

During the attack, one person suspected to be a fleeing inmate was hit by a bullet while carrying his travel bag.

His lifeless body was visibly seen on the ground in front of the correctional centre.

The gunmen also razed the Imo State Police Command headquarters situated in Owerri and burnt almost all the vehicles parked at the command headquarters.

They were said to have operated from 1:00 am till 3:00 am during which they sang solidarity songs at the Government House Roundabout for about 30 minutes before attacking the facilities.

READ ALSO: Bandits Using Proceeds Of Abduction To Fund Boko Haram, Says El-Rufai

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Orlando Ikeokwu, confirmed the attacks.

Gunmen on April 5, 2021 attacked the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCS) in Imo State.

 

Also, the Imo State Command of the Nigeria Correctional Service confirmed the attack on its facility.

The Public Relations Officer of the Service, James Madugba, told journalists that the authorities were still trying to get the accurate data of inmates who escaped and the level of devastation caused.

He explained that details will be shared as soon as accurate information and data is collected.

“There was an attack on the Nigerian Correctional Centre very early this morning around 2:15 am and some of these vehicles were burnt.

“Fire service came to assist the much they can to stop the fire from causing more damages. We are yet to confirm exactly what happened,” Madugba said.

Gunmen on April 5, 2021 attacked the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCS) in Imo State.

 

According to him, no figure has been given on the number of casualties because there was a gun battle between the police and the gunmen.

Gunmen on April 5, 2021 attacked the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCS) in Imo State.

 

No fewer than 50 cars were set ablaze in the process.

This is the third attack in less than a month on police facilities in Imo State.

Some gunmen had on March 20 stormed the Isiala Mbano Divisional Police Headquarters in Umuelemai.

During the attack, the hoodlum injured a police officer and set ablaze files. They were said to have cordoned off the road before the attack.

On February 25, some gunmen razed the Aboh Mbaise Divisional Police Station in the state.

Some police officers have been killed and police facilities destroyed by gunmen who cart away rifles in similar attacks around the South-east and South-south regions, giving the impression that the attacks may have been coordinated.

 

Over 600 Detained Coup Protesters Freed In Myanmar – Prison Official

This handout photo taken and released by Dawei Watch on March 23, 2021, shows protesters taking part in a demonstration against the military coup in Dawei. Handout / DAWEI WATCH / AFP

 

Myanmar on Wednesday freed more than 600 people detained in anti-junta protests, a senior prison official told AFP.

“We released 360 men and 268 women from Insein prison today,” a senior official from the jail told AFP, on condition of anonymity.

Details shortly.

At Least 75 Inmates Dead In Ecuador Prison Riots

 

 

At least 75 inmates died Tuesday and several were injured in riots blamed on gang rivalry at three jails in Ecuador’s overcrowded prison system, authorities said.

As security forces battled to regain control, distraught family members waited desperately for news outside the prison in Ecuador’s western port city of Guayaquil, where officials said 21 died.

Another 33 died at the prison in Cuenca in the south and eight in Latacunga in the center of the South American country, according to Edmundo Moncayo, director of the government’s SNAI prisons management body.

“We want the death list given to us,” said Daniela Soria, 29, one of about 40 women outside the Guayaquil prison, many of them in tears.

“We know that the problems are not over because everyone there has a phone and my husband doesn’t call me,” she told AFP.

Earlier, she received a WhatsApp voice message from her husband, Ricardo, which she played back for AFP. “They are going to kill me, get me out of here!” he could be heard exclaiming, the last she heard from him.

Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno, on Twitter, attributed the riots to “criminal organizations” engaged in “simultaneous acts of violence in several prisons.”

The authorities, he said, “are acting to retake control.”

The military was deployed to help police quell the uprising.

The public defender’s office, an entity akin to an ombudsman set up to defend human rights, called the violence “an unprecedented massacre” and expressed its “concern over the lack of security in the country, which is reflected in the increase in crime and violence inside these prison facilities.”

‘Like a market’

The prosecuting authority said several inmates were left injured in fighting between “criminal gangs,” including two at Guayaquil in serious condition.

Several police were also injured, said Moncayo, but no deaths have been reported among security personnel.

Police commander Patricio Carrillo described the situation as “critical,” while Interior Minister Patricio Pazmino created a centralized command post to respond to what he said was “concerted action by criminal organizations to generate violence in penitentiary centers.”

The prison authority described fierce fighting between organized gangs that go by names such as Los Pipos, Los Lobos and Tigrones. They rely on drug trafficking and operate their criminal enterprises from prison.

Moncayo told reporters that on Monday, guards seized two firearms that were to be used to kill the leader of a group imprisoned in Guayaquil.

“Inside, it is like a market. There is everything: drugs, arms, even puppies. Everything is sold,” said Soria, the wife of prisoner Ricardo.

In order to reduce prisoner numbers amid the coronavirus epidemic, the government commuted the sentences of people convicted of minor offences, reducing overcrowding from 42 percent to 30 percent.

This still leaves Ecuador’s prison system, with a capacity to house 29,000 inmates in 60-odd facilities, with a prisoner population of 38,000.

There are 1,500 guards to oversee them.

Dearth of guards

The SNAI has said a dearth of personnel “hinders immediate response” to prisoner revolts.

Last year, inmate disputes left 51 dead, according to police figures.

A 90-day state of emergency in the country’s jails was ordered by Moreno last year to try to bring gang activity under control and reduce the violence.

But just in December, prison unrest left 11 prisoners dead and seven injured.

Tuesday’s riots coincided with a march of hundreds of indigenous people on Quito to demand a vote recount after a first round of presidential elections this month saw their candidate left out in the cold.

PHOTOS: Ex-PDP Spokesman, Olisa Metuh Released From Kuje Prison

(FILE) Former PDP spokesman, Mr Olisa Metuh, at the Federal High Court in Abuja on February 25, 2020. Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

A former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, has been released from prison after about 10 months of serving a jail term.

Pictures of Mr Metuh, leaving the Nigerian Medium Security Custodial Centre, Kuje in Abuja, the nation’s capital, were shared on Twitter by a PDP chieftain, Mr Ayodele Fayose.

Fayose, who is the immediate past governor of Ekiti State, congratulated the former spokesman for the opposition party, saying, “Welcome back home Olisa Metuh, tough time don’t last…”

READ ALSO: Don’t Close Down Your COVID-19 Treatment Centres, PTF Begs State Govts

PDP spokesman, Olisa Mutuh, leaves the Nigerian Medium Security Custodial Centre, Kuje in Abuja on December 24, 2020. Photo: Twitter- @GovAyoFayose

 

Metuh was prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), along with his company Destra Investment Limited, before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja.

He was charged with seven counts of illegally receiving monies to the tune of N400 million from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), under Colonel Sambo Dasuki.

On February 25, 2020, Justice Abang convicted and sentenced the former PDP spokesman to seven years imprisonment.

Dissatisfied with the decision of the court, Metah approached the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal with an application seeking to set aside the ruling of the lower court.

PDP spokesman, Olisa Mutuh, poses with officials at the Nigerian Medium Security Custodial Centre, Kuje in Abuja on December 24, 2020. Photo: Twitter- @GovAyoFayose

 

In his argument, he alleged among others that the trial Judge was biased and failed to accord him a fair hearing.

About 10 months after the judgement of the Federal High Court, the appellate court agreed with the appellant that the trial judge was biased and quashed the judgement.

In its judgement delivered on Wednesday last week, the panel of three justices, led by Justice Stephen Adah, ordered a retrial of the case.

After reviewing the judgement of the appellate court, the EFCC said it would approach the Supreme Court to challenge it.

A week after the appellate court delivered the judgement, Metuh was released from the correctional facility in Kuje, Abuja.

PDP spokesman, Olisa Mutuh, at the Nigerian Medium Security Custodial Centre, Kuje in Abuja on December 24, 2020. Photo: Twitter- @GovAyoFayose

Rapper Lil Wayne Pleads Guilty To Firearms Charges

(FILES) In this file photo taken on May 31, 2019 Lil Wayne performs onstage at the 2019 Governors Ball Music Festival on Randall’s Islandin New York City.  (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP)

 

US rapper Lil Wayne pleaded guilty Friday to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon over an incident dating back to last year, US media reported — a federal offense that could see him sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.

The 38-year-old artist, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter Jr, was found to be carrying a gun and bullets when police searched a private plane in Miami in December last year.

“Your honor, I plead guilty,” he reportedly told US District Judge Kathleen Williams during a virtual hearing.

The Miami Herald said that Lil Wayne — who has a home in south Florida — admitted the gold-plated pistol found in his luggage was his. He told police the weapon had been given to him as a Father’s Day gift.

Police also found what was believed to be cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, heroin, painkillers and more than $25,000 in cash, the newspaper said.

But the sole federal weapons charge filed in federal court in Miami stems from the fact that Lil Wayne was convicted more than a decade ago on a separate firearms charge.a

Convicted felons are barred from owning firearms under federal law.

The five-time Grammy winner — who more recently made headlines for meeting with and voicing support for President Donald Trump — will face sentencing on January 28.

Edo Jail Break: Police Rearrest Four Escapees

File photo of a Police patrol van.

 

The Nigeria Police Force has re-arrested four persons who escaped from the Oko Prison in Edo State during the #EndSARS protest.

The suspects who were arrested for alleged armed robbery and car snatching in Kaduna confirmed that they were all part of the over 1000 prisoners who escaped from different correctional facilities in Edo State.

They include Adebayo Opeyemi, Onos Benjamin, Peter Felix, and Hudu Musa.

Parading the suspects on Monday in Abuja, the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, explained that Opeyemi, a dismissed military man escaped and joined the group to form a new team.

READ ALSO: Troops Kill Two Bandits, Rescue 39 Travellers Abducted In Kaduna

Also, Benjamin who was on death row and awaiting execution admitted snatching a car 30 minutes after escaping from prison to aid his escape out of the state before selling the car to his contact in Niger Republic.

For Musa, the Force spokesman said he specialized in selling off stolen cars to border communities and had nine months left off his prison term before he escaped.

He also explained that the four escapees had formed a dangerous gang that started off where they stopped in crime before their convictions.

This comes a month after armed men stormed the correction facility in Oko, popularly known as the Oko prison.

Dozens Of Inmates Escape South African Prison

A file photo of a man holding prison-like bars.

 

Nearly 70 inmates staged a brazen escape from a detention centre in South Africa’s wine-producing town of Malmesbury on Friday after overpowering guards, before most were re-arrested, the government said.

The inmates, who were awaiting trial, broke out around midday during routine physical exercise at the facility situated about 65 kilometres (40 miles) north of Cape Town, the Department of Correctional Services said in a statement.

“The escapees overpowered officials, took the keys and locked three officials in a cell and opened other cells before escaping through the main entrance and over the roof,” it said.

Police immediately launched a manhunt and re-arrested 61 of the 69 escapees.

The centre was holding 451 offenders and there were 20 officials on duty at the time of the incident in the town surrounded by wheat and wine farms.

 

AFP