More than 80 percent of prison inmates in Nigeria are awaiting trial, owing to the unpleasant criminal justice system in the country,a Centre for Crisis Communication (CCC) finding reveals.
The report released by the centre to mark its first anniversary emphasised that the Nigerian Prisons Service was sitting at the very heart of Nigeria’s security architecture.
The Executive Secretary of the centre, Air Commodore Yusuf Anas (Rtd) made the report available to the media at a brief ceremony in Abuja on Wednesday.
Anas said the Nigerian Prisons Service should not be toyed with as the agency was statutorily responsible for holding convicted offenders.
He said the remaining 20 percent represented convicted prisoners, noting that the prisons also provided abode for awaiting trials for various crimes and offences ranging from pick-pocketing to terrorism.
“The prisons were indeed very sensitive and important security institution which must be accorded its place of priority and strategic importance in the overall interest of the society.
“The centre expresses dismay over reported cases of security breaches that led to attempted and actual prisons breaks across the country.
“An assessment of a number of Nigerian Prisons revealed a dire situation across the various prison facilities in the country,’’ He said.
He observed that apart from the obsolete and debilitating state of most of the prisons, there was an apparent shortage or inadequacy of the holding facilities resulting to congestion.
He called on the authorities to carry out reforms to make prisons across the country more habitable.
Anas noted that the staggering ratio of actual convicts to the awaiting trial inmates (ATI) was indicative of a systemic failure in our criminal justice system.
On other development in the country, Anas said the centre was against the current agitation for the breakup of the country, noting that it would lead to a setback of years of unity and progress.
He decried the dehumanizing situation in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps across the country, calling for unhindered access to humanitarian organisations.
Anas commended the National Emergemency Management Agency (NEMA) for its relentless intervention on the plights of IDPs and hailed government’s efforts at tackling the Boko Haram insurgency.