Over 73% Of Prison Inmates Awaiting Trials, Says Comptroller General

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Prison inmates

BY CHIBUOGWU NDIDI

The Comptroller General of Nigerian Correctional Services (NCoS), Mr. Haliru Nababa, has confirmed that out of a total population of 70,000 prison inmates in Nigeria, there are currently about 66,000 awaiting trials, which represent 73 per cent of the total prison population.

Nababa stated this at a pre 27th Nigerian Economic Summit (#NES27), with the theme, “Prison Reforms and National Security,” organised by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG).

Nababa, who was represented by Mr. Nwakuche Sylvester, Deputy Comptroller General, said that the NCoS has played a crucial role in national security as the Correctional Services has helped in crime prevention and control, maintenance of law and order and in the implementation of  appropriate punishments to law-breakers.

While delivering the keynote address, he said the emergence of the Correctional Services Act, is one of the best things that has happened to the NCoS, adding that the enactment of the Act has significantly helped to reposition and rejuvenate the organisation in the areas of Implementing reforms and programmes, providing medical, psychological and counselling services for offenders, facilitating incentives to inmates and convicts, as well as  providing support to facilitate quick disposal of cases.

The Comptroller General noted that the Act addresses the issue of over-crowding and mandates State Comptrollers to notify the Attorney General, Criminal Justice Committee, the Prerogative of Mercy and others to take necessary steps to decongest facilities.

“Without execution of a life sentence within 10 years, the new Act gives a Chief Judge the right to commute a death sentence to life imprisonment.

“It also gives legal backing to reformation and rehabilitation of convicted persons through educational opportunities up to tertiary level,” he revealed.

He however, noted that some states are yet to domesticate the new Act.

The Comptroller General revealed that 5,567 inmates in correctional facilities across Nigeria are currently enrolled in adult education classes, and there are also ongoing programmes in vocational training.

He also revealed that the NCoS runs cottage farms and engages in animal husbandry.

He further stated that the Correctional Services faces several challenges ranging from inadequate operational vehicles and infrastructural deficits.

He, however, reiterated that the calculation of recidivism should be based on convicts and not inmates, especially considering that prison is a reflection of the larger society.

While delivering the opening remarks, NESG Vice Chairman, Mr. Niyi Yusuf, said that the pre-summit events were geared towards engaging stakeholders in discussions that would form part of the overall Summit conversations to conceptualise ways to reverse the poor economic trends Nigeria faces and push the country into a future of high and sustained exponential growth.

Yusuf stated that the recently enacted Act is in line with globally acceptable standards in rehabilitation and reformation but that the Act excludes post-release components that form a significant part of reintegration.

“A critical aspect of rehabilitation is the provision of adequate learning and psycho-social development, which can lead to a robust security framework.

 

“A sustained effort from civil society and active government collaboration will help achieve these objectives,” he said.

During the panel session, Mrs. Joke Aladesanmi, Founder and Executive Director Centre for Legal Support and Inmate Rehabilitation, said that the Corrections Act helps to identify the challenges and solutions.

Aladesanmi said there is a need for the Act to be effectively implemented, while reiterating the need to shift the focus on providing legal support to inmates to aid the decongestion of prisons through a method that pays particular attention to rehabilitation and reintegration.

Rear Admiral Olusegun Egbedima, Chairman Ritserv Concepts Limited, stressed the need for reintegration.

“There is a need for the justice system and custodial services to respond proactively, as present figures show there is no willingness to reverse the trend.

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