The Nigeria Prisons Service (NPS) yesterday justified its decision to slap handcuffs on the wrists of the embattled national publicity secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, during his court appearance on Tuesday.
It said the action was necessitated by security concerns along the route of transport of the PDP chieftain, who is standing trial on seven count charges bordering on corruption, and around the court premises.
The national leadership of the PDP, Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State and a cross section of Nigerians had condemned the handcuffing of Mr. Metuh like a “common criminal”, accusing the All Progressives Congress-led federal government of deliberately setting out to embarrass the opposition’s spokesman.
The development was however, supported by Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who said handcuffing Mr. Metuh was in order.
Reacting to the controversy on the matter, the spokesperson for the Nigeria Prisons Service, Mr. Francis Enobore, said it was in the interest of Metuh and Nigeria as a country that mechanical form of restraints were placed on the wrists of the accused.
Stressing that it was not out of place to have suspects to a crime to be handcuffed while being taken to court from the precinct of the prisons, the NPS spokesman said there are three key conditions that would warrant prisoners to be cuffed while being made to appear in court for trial.
He said, “The idea of handcuffing a criminal suspect from the prisons to court is a tradition that is as old as the prisons itself. The officer in charge of the prison doing the movement of the prisoner or the senior officer in the escort team studies the security situation and takes the most appropriate decision.
“Part of the factors usually considered include the disposition of the prisoner, security concerns along the route of movement, around the court premises, mode of the relations or friends of the inmate, the general security situation in the country, the intelligence available to the officer in -charge and host of others.
“The decision to use mechanical restraints is normally taken in the best interest of all parties concerned. Note that the primary responsibility of the prisons is safe custody of inmates at all times therefore, whether in the yard, on transit, in court or hospital, the officer under whose custody the inmate is kept is duty bound to ensure that security is not compromised”.