Thursday, 11 May 2023

More than 2,000 inmates have spent over 10 years without trial: Official

The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) says more than 2,000 inmates have spent over ten years in custodial centres across the country without trial.

An assistant controller general, NCoS, Mr Gimba Dumbulwa, said this during a high-level conference on decongestion and corrections administration, on Wednesday in Abuja.

Mr Dumbulwa said that some of the inmates had remained locked up without trial for over 10 years.

He said that the congestion of custodial centres remained a major problem in the management of inmates in the country.

“As at May 9, 75,436 inmates are in our custody across the nation while 52,446 are awaiting trial inmates.

“Out of this figure, more than 70 per cent of them have overstayed in custody due to lateness in sentencing them and keeping them for more than they should be.

“Over 2000 inmates have overstayed for more than 10 years in custody without getting trial.

“Over 5000 inmates have stayed more than five years and over 10,000 inmates have stayed more than one year to six years without trial.

“All these add to the issue of congestion across our custodial centres,” he said.

Dumbulwa said that the effort of the Controller General, NCoS, Mr Haliru Nababa to get the custodial centres decongested was hindered by delays in the trial of inmates.

“The problem we have all over our custodial centres is quick dispensation of justice to these inmates,” he added.

He said the only option for the NCoS was to transfer inmates from overcrowded custodial centres to others with available spaces to accommodate them.

The Executive Director, Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), Dr Uju Agomoh said to address the problem, Nigeria must ensure that the justice sector functions effectively.

She observed that “a disproportionate number of people are in places of detention in correctional services and stay there longer than they ought to stay.

“We also have high number of those who have not been convicted.

“That is not right, because once you have high number of people who are not convicted, it is difficult to plan proper rehabilitation and programmes for them or even plan their resettlement.

“This has become very problematic. Therefore, we must be concerned about what happens to them while they are there.”

Ms Agomoh, therefore, said it was important to address issues of overcrowding, non-trial of inmates, proper reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders.

“We are basically here for solutions. We need to put checks and balances to move and make sure that these agencies function very well in their respective places,” she added.

Ms Agomoh lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for moving the prison administration from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent list.

She said state governments now have a role to play in the management of corrections, as such should ensure that only those who were supposed to be in custody were there.

The event was organised by the Ministry of Interior, NCoS and PRAWA.


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