…Inaugurates national stakeholders committee in Abuja
The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, has stated that to manage the prison system in a fair and humane manner, national legislation, policies and practices must be guided by the international standards developed to protect the human rights of prisoners.
Revealing this in a press release made available to newsmen on Tuesday is Comrade Salihu Othman Isah, Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice who said the Minister stated this at the Stakeholders Committee to Oversee the Implementation of the Federal Executive Council’s Directives to Fast Track Decongestion of Prisons held in Abuja.
He added, “It is for this reason that my office intends to come up with a roadmap and comprehensive action plan to ensure that permanent gains are achieved in the work on the reformation and decongestion of our correctional institutions”.
Malami explained that the programme is intended to reduce the number of inmates in Nigerian Prisons and more importantly looking into the cases of persons awaiting trial and also those convicted of minor offences.
He noted that about 70% of inmates in Nigerian prisons are awaiting trial and that it is embarrassing and an indictment to the national justice system because it contradicts international standards including those provided in the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) that provides for the limited use of pre-trial detention when certain conditions are present.
The Minister lamented over the alarming state of the prisons, it’s overcrowding of inmates and the un-conducive environment which actually had defeated the primary purpose of the prisons as reformation centres.
“The current state of our prisons is unfortunately very alarming. There is no gainsaying that the facilities are vastly overcrowded with inmates and the environment mostly not conducive, therefore defeating the primary purpose of the prisons as primarily reformation centres.
As a matter of fact, the state of our prisons directly touches on the fundamental human rights of these inmates and constitutes a violation of those rights. As Nelson Mandela once said, ‘no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails’”
Malami further stated out the activities which had been kickstarted and one of which is the collaboration with Chief Judges of the States and FCT to fashion out ways of fast tracking the decongestion of prisons “this flows from the provision of the Criminal Justice (Release from custody) Special Provision Act, cap. LFN.
He affirmed that, “Based on correspondences Support and collaboration with the Chief Judges of the States and the FCT to achieve the decongestion of prisons in Nigeria, it is heartwarming to note that recently, the Chief Judge of the FCT during a visit to the Kuje Prison, released thirteen inmates whilst the Edo, Oyo, Ondo, Nasarawa and Kano States governors pardoned and approved the release of seventy, twenty-one, thirty, seventy and five Hundred inmates respectively to mark the Nations 57th independent celebration”.
He further urge the committee to in their review of the draft road map take advantage of their wealth of experience, the earlier policy reforms that has been made on the subject matter, reforms in other jurisdiction for adaption and come up with a plausible road map to guide the reforms for the future.
In conclusion the AGF assured the committee of his absolute commitment to ensure the success of programme to decongest prisons.
“We are open for collaboration with all stakeholders including development partners and other organisations to improve the state of our prisons. We sincerely hope that we can build a new generation of prisons and a better model of prison management that will emphasize humaneness and efficiency” he affirms.
The Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Mr. Dayo Apata explained that the milestones tend to underscore the purposeful insights of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation to ensure that justice sector takes a major leap upwards for the betterment of the administration of justice in Nigeria.
He further added that, “it is noteworthy that the integrity, exposure and expertise of the selected members of this well constituted committee will definitely yield the desired results in the expeditious articulation of workable measure that will decongest and reform our prisons nationwide.
Chairman of the committee, Honourable Justice Ishaq Bello, in his response assured that the committee will not disappoint AGF and entire Nigerians, stressing that the objectives behind its constitution will be achieved. END