A former controller of prisons, Ifediora Orakwe has decried the misuse of Nigerian prison facilities.
Orakwe said the Nigeria prisons are currently being used for services which they were not built for.
Speaking in Lagos on Thursday, March, 2 at a capacity building workshop for journalists organized by Prisoners’ Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), Orakwe said majority of the inmate housed in Nigerian prisons are awaiting trial.
“We carry people, we put them into congested prison cells and when we are tired of them we ask them to go and sin no more,” Orakwe said.
Lamenting the challenge of overcrowding of facilities Orakwe said the prisons were modeled not for individuals awaiting trial but for those who have been convicted.
He said most inmates who ought not to have stayed long in prison facilities have become used to such certain lifestyles due to association.
“The fear of police and security forces have gone with the method of lock stay in prisons,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, the acting executive director of PRAWA Yinka Lawal said it is unfortunate that Nigeria prison facilities are overcrowded.
Lawal said the incarceration of individuals awaiting trial in the prisons is overwhelming.
“Some time ago we had to release the longest serving inmate; he had served 17 years, on awaiting trial,” he said.
He said Nigeria needs to start taking statistics of inmates awaiting trial.
Lawal said such statistics must include background of inmates, crimes allegedly committed, how long they have spent inside the facilities, what is happening to their cases among many others.
He also said the statistics would enable policy makers arrive at a trend or pattern of crime committed, why such crimes are prevalent in various areas or environment and adopt recommendations on curbing such.
Lawal also noted that the statistics will help provide or create accessibility of quality legal support services for the inmate on awaiting trial.
He said the data with help from Nigerian Bar Association, Legal Aid Council of Nigerian and civil society organization will provide needed support for the inmates with a view of decongesting the prisons.
”We have chosen three prisons – Lagos, Kano and Enugu – out of six facilities suggested by the controller of prison. And we hope to replicate this proposed approach to other prisons across the country,” Lawal said.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS) has secured a waiver from the federal government to employ 6,545 personnel soon.
The Comptroller-General of the NPS, Mr Jaffaru Ahmed revealed this while defending the service budget in the House of Representatives, adding that the NPS had inadequate personnel.