Expert lauds FG’s move to decongest correctional centres

AN activist, Mr Ibrahim Yusuf has commended the Federal Government over its decision to stop feeding state inmates in custodial centres in the country.

Yusuf spoke while responding to a survey by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on feeding of inmates and congestion in correctional facilities.

NAN reports that the Federal Government in May, 2023 announced plans to stop feeding state offenders in its correctional facilities from Jan. 1, 2024.

It, therefore, enjoined state governments to make budgetary provisions for the feeding of their inmates in federal facilities.

According to official statistics, more than 90 per cent of the inmates in Correctional facilities across the nation are state offenders.

Yusuf, who is also the Chairman, Non-Governmental Organisation Association (ANGO) in Gombe State, said the burden of feeding inmates was huge on the federal government in view of the growing inmates population in prisons across the country.

He described the move by the federal government as a good step towards decongesting correctional centres across the country.

According to Yusuf, governors are not always at ease to sign execution order because of the possible result of their actions when they left office.

“I am in full support of the federal government’s decision so that it will ease the number of inmates in the correctional centres.

“If you go to the major correctional centers like the one here in Gombe which initial capacity is between 379 and 400, now has about 1,400 inmates.

“When one is being tried and convicted, he should be condemned immediately. I don’t know why they are keeping them,” he said.

The activist said that since the state governors were adamant to sign execution orders on those condemned by the courts, they should bear their responsibilities.

This, he said, would encourage state governments to adopt strategies to decongest the centres.

“When the state governments notice that they are feeding more people that are not conributing anything to the state, it will caution the system,” he said.

Corroborating earlier opinion; Mrs Sadiya Saleh, Chairperson, Human Rights Committee of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Bauchi State chapter, advocated for legal reforms to streamline administration of justice towards decongestion of correctional facilities in the country.

She stressed the need for adoption of alternatives to reduce incarceration of non-violent offenses,

“Reassessing sentencing guidelines and promoting expedited trials and championing improved conditions within correctional facilities that encompassing healthcare, sanitation, and access to legal representation, is vital,” he said.

According to Saleh, the association is contributing towards upholding the rights of the inmates, fostering a more just and humane correctional system.

On his part, Mr Silas Simon, a Constitutional Lawyer in Bauchi, urged the federal government to ensure implementation of Section 34 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), to accelerate decongestion of the correctional facilities.

“Visits to detention centers by Judges and Magistrates are paramount as well as work on the database and biometric records of inmates for reintegration,” he said.

Simon stressed the need for the establishment of an inspectorate directorate to collate and follow up on the reports of the statutory oversight and monitoring bodies.

This, he said, would encouraged the ACJA monitoring committee to effectively carry out its mandate to ensure effective implementation.

Statistics of the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS) showed that there were 31 inmates on death row awaiting execution in Bauchi State.

It showed that the inmates comprised 22 males and nine females while 24 of them had been sentenced to death by hanging and seven others by stoning.

The Spokesman of the Service in the state, DSC Abdullahi Usman, said that most of the inmates on death row were not indigenes of Bauchi State.

He said they were being transferred from other states as a result of apprehension and pressure from their families.

He said the Service was awaiting the executive order to carry out the execution as approved by competent court of law. (NAN)


-November 13, 2023 @ 13:05 GMT |